- May
Posted By : Tracy Pepe
Why Some Branders Get It.

Each day I begin my morning by evaluating the scent world through interesting articles, research, new books, marketing campaigns. Even new fine fragrance launches. I look for inspiration, hope. Each morning I also evaluate the growth of this tiny industry, and for the past seventeen years I have been alone.

However, a few months ago I met Jeffrey Hamilton Smith, Director of the American Branding Association (ABA).  He asked if I would be interested in writing and submitting a sensory branding related article for their blog. I was thrilled with the opportunity.

Weeks passed and I continued my daily scent search routine and to my surprise I came across a fascinating blog run by Tim Girvin; In particular, his article “The Fragrance of Truth | Exploring the Emotionality of Scent in Brand and Consciousness”. It was provocative in that the depth of his research captured my interest. I thought I had entered Nirvana. To read work from a brander that captured the emotional consciousness of scent? Tim wrote on such an in-depth level I thought, “This is absolutely brilliant! Thank you.”

Later that month I received a phone call from Jeffrey (ABA). He was giving a presentation to the YMN (Yarn Market News) Conference March 14- 16th, 2010 – entitled, “Knitting Brands: Improving Your Message, Engaging Customers, and Honing Your Business Identity”. As we spoke, I realized Jeffrey was another brilliant brander. That was two in one month. Jeffrey was going to unveil a brand in front of a large audience, but was implementing scent as a backdrop element to that brand. Honestly, I have been in this industry for many years and to read and discuss such work, well I was thrilled. Tracy, we’ve hit awareness, the knowledge and understanding is finally coming through and yes, scent is moving beyond that “unknown.”

“As I write this article, it was ten years ago today I launched my book “So, what’s all the Sniff about? An in-depth plea for sanity and equal rights for your sense of smell—our most neglected and endangered sense.” So to read and connect with these people, I am thrilled. When my book came out most people had no idea how scent impacted individuals specifically with a brand!

Jeffrey’s objective was to create an ultra stylized boutique yarn shop brand in the UK, that was to also offer sweets as a secondary endorphin trigger. Connecting with several generations of perspective and exsisting knit hobbyists, he incorporated cultural, generational and geographical connectors based on the Mod movement of the early 1960’s; Mod revival of the early 1980’s; and Mod resurgence of the mid-1990’s to present. Now here is the interesting part to Jeffrey’s research—he was to assess the BRAND SCENT!

I thought I was dreaming. I was in a euphoric state that required me to pinch myself. “Tracy, this is real. Jeffrey is actually combining the scent with the brand before the brand’s development has been fully executed. He is actually connecting the soul of the brand, threading it through three generations of user experiences, by adding the element of scent! WHY? Because these branders get it!” HOLY SHIT!

Now here’s the exciting part. Jeffrey connected the scent through HIS research. Defining what the one similar scent experience would be that would draw each generation of Mod in for the most cerebral saturation (reminiscing); thus, evoking a sensory-emotional connection to the brand. He went beyond, doing my work by extrapolating the memory recall based on popular scooter rallies to the Atlantic coast of southern England (i.e. Brighton, Bournemouth, Eastbourne, Hastings, etc.). The final brand name was chosen by a group of 140 participants whereby seven names were presented and 97 people decided on “Sugarlamb” with 80% of the residuals, making this their #2 choice. The solution emanated sweet, Mod, and knitting. HOLY GRAIL! He determined WHAT the scent brand was, “CANDY FLOSS” (aka: cotton candy), and all he asked of me was, “Tracy, can you make this and create the application method ?” YES, my pleasure!

The aroma became this incredible blend of top notes candy & bergamot, middle notes of rose, strawberry & jasmine and base notes of amber and cotton. I created a fragrance that captured the story’s history and brand’s message. Capturing the essence of the craft, the feeling of contentment it became something passed onto one’s children, grandchildren. An emotion of pure, utter elation. Playful innocence, fun, youthful, carefree, sensual, excitement. I was content honestly thinking it couldn’t get any better than this; Then Tim wrote another article!

The Scent of Dirt: Perfume as the most elemental

This article went beyond a brander’s ability. Tim was connecting the realness of the Demeter fragrance line; specifically “dirt” to one’s personal emotional experience, and how this affects a brander’s paradigm. However, it went beyond that. Tim also wrote that how and where we live, impacts on our ability to smell. This is key for many companies who want one fragrance, or one strategy for all. His article went further to speak about my colleague, Michael Edwards and the incredible work he does in my industry. This was impressive.

I must admit, experiencing this new awareness from branders on how to use scent effectively has been exciting. I am hopeful that scent in sensory branding is defining its place within the branding community. Yet I was surprised again, when today I read more. “The Scent of Memory: Design, Experience, and Perfume” by Tim.

Pinch me. Can this be real? Tim has tapped into the core of my acumen. He writes about my industry peers, Pierre Bourdon and Bertrand Duchaufour, both brilliant perfumers. However the article captures the essence of my work, which is scent design. As Tim wrote, “Sensing, scent and sentience—all come from the same Latin root: sentire, to feel.”

Today was a powerful day. As I remind myself of all the years I have been working in this industry, celebrating my book’s tenth year anniversary, I am very thankful there are some branders who get “What all the sniff is about”!


Leave a Reply