3 Ways We Use Scent To Signify A Signature Moment

A Signature Moment begins with creating heartfelt experiences, then adding unforgettable touches that transform ordinary memories into the enduring legacy of your brand.

The proactive use of scent to enhance these moments has incredible influence on how details from an experience linger as indelible impressions over time.

Witness the emotional connection of an alluring aroma: a state of nirvana reached by crossing the threshold into your favorite coffee shop; instant tranquility from entering a spa or wellness boutique; a sense of home that accompanies the smell of freshly baked cookies.

Or stress and anxiety due to the presence of a previously undetected funk.

Be mindful of what your Signature Moment is signifying . . .  

One Sensitive Sniffer

Based on his physique and prickly demeanor, I wasn’t sure where ‘personal assistant’ ended, and ‘bodyguard’ began within his job description.

I unlocked the door to the Presidential Suite and allowed my sullen guest to enter first. Two steps in he took one sniff and spun around, declaring, “She’s not staying here” as he brushed by me and walked back toward the elevators.

I could feel myself shrinking as I hurried after him.

The “She” that he was referring to is one of the most respected, successful, wealthiest, and therefore, most powerful entrepreneurs and entertainers in the world. Her appeal is universal.

She is also, as it turned out, hyper-sensitive to mold and other common allergens.

One of Tampa’s notorious monsoon storms, the kind where the rain falls sideways, had breached the seal around a balcony door and soaked a large area of the carpet.

Undetected by our staff, the presence of fungi didn’t escape the sensory neurons of my burly and determined friend.

Resisting the urge to curl up in the fetal position, I instead requested . . . okay, pleaded for a window of opportunity to resolve the issue. Once agreed, our housekeeping team led an assault to remove . . . not mask . . . the source of the odor.

Later that afternoon, we returned to the scene of the grime. Two steps in, one sniff, then a smile of relief:

“She’ll stay here.”

Lingering Impressions

Do you have favorite memories as a patron, guest, or patient that are linked forever with a specific aroma or smell? Can you recall when the influence of aroma impacted you most vividly?

Chances are, it was either upon arrival, departure, or somewhere in between.

Makes sense . . . we’ve just described the life cycle of any service experience.

How scent is utilized in each of those opportunities can enliven memories in advance of an experience and lock them in as lingering impressions of something very special and unique.

For example, a customer will appreciate the pragmatic aspects of your service experience. This alone may or may not separate you from your competition in the eyes of that customer.

Signature Moments are designed to strengthen a heartfelt connection through uniquely scripted techniques or poignant activities.

A signature scent transforms memories of those activities into a melodic blend of feelings and impressions, subject to reflective interpretation, and deepening appreciation over time.

It’s like humming your favorite song . . . lyrics have their place, but the melody resonates with your soul.   


There’s a lot at stake in a first impression.

Visual confirmation of expectations is often first. The opportunity to influence with aroma and scent is next, occurring prior to other physical experiences such as feeling and tasting.

A couple of checklist items will keep your impressions on track:

Is your scent immediately recognizable upon entering your establishment?

Thankfully, technology has allowed us to move beyond those nauseating piped-in scents. But the onus remains on making an impression.

This can be enhanced through placement and quantity of aromatics.

Consider placement of aromatics outside where applicable. These may compliment interior scents even if not an exact match.

Does your signature scent reflect and compliment the authentic nature of your experience?

Your scent should work to heighten expectations for an overall experience.

This happens organically in restaurants, flower shops, bakeries, perfume counters, etc.

Investing the time to explore what signature scent represents your target experience has a great return on emotional investment.

For example, an iconic luxury resort had settled on Green Tea Bamboo as their signature scent, citing its fresh interpretation of simple elegance and well-being.

Guests would frequently pause midway through the lobby, take a deep breath, and utter, “Oh, so peaceful and nice. I could stay here forever.”

All part of the plan.

During The Experience

A service experience can be defined as a collection of first impressions, each providing an opportunity to enhance memory retention through aroma and scent.

They also carry the possibility of detracting from the overall experience. A welcoming scent won’t be enough to overcome musty or stale odors in a treatment room.

And nothing will be able to overcome lingering odors in a hotel guestroom, whether sanitary conditions like our example above, or legacy aromas left by a previous guest (pets, smoking, food, etc.) 

Purposefully curate the impact of scent among the various segments of a customer’s experience. Then encourage your team to promote and celebrate their presence.

This could take the form of a parade lap around the dining room with a sizzling order of fajitas, or the subtle approval of how a skin care or hair product smells prior to sampling it for a customer.

These trigger memories meant to be captured in the transcripts of time.


For most businesses, patrons will depart through the same access point in which they arrived.

What are they taking with them?

Beyond hopeful connections and thoughtful interactions, consider some sort of takeaway to extend the emotional appeal of an experience once a guest has officially departed.

Again, this may happen organically, such as the presence of a new car smell . . . It’s a sad day when that mind altering fragrance succumbs to the rigorous advances of reality.

We’ve experienced the potential behind a takeaway.

I had just enjoyed a most flavorful meal and shared my enthusiasm with our server (being careful not to become my parents). Something in the spice rub had turned my taste buds into fans for life.

Next thing we knew, the Chef was tableside with a small jar of their Signature Spice Rub.

You could say, “Tall Tim, we’re talking about scents and aromas, and now you’re changing lanes to flavor.”

The flavor that night did send me to the moon and back. But each time I opened the jar at home, I was given a return ticket to those memories.

I would close my eyes, take a deep breath, and lovingly inhale the experience all over again.

By Any Other Name

Not everyone will appreciate the same aromas.

We frequent a French bakery that specializes in traditional sourdough technique, filling the space with the pungent aroma of natural fermentation. Not long ago, a patron walked in and stated, “Come on honey, let’s go. That smell is making me nauseous.”

It was everything I could do to not run after her and shout, “It’s not nauseous, it’s nature’s alchemy!”

My discretion intact, we can appreciate the overall impact of scent on a Signature Moment.

Whether at arrival, departure, or somewhere between the two, make it your intention to use the sensory value of aroma to enhance both physical and emotional attraction to your product and brand.

Hopefully you’ll be rewarded with a “She’ll stay here” too.

Thank you for spending your Tuesday with Tall Tim Talks!

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