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October 7, 2008

Stop and Smell the Scent of Product Naming Inspiration

Perfume naming and branding is never dull. Take perfumer to the stars Frédéric Malle, a perfume king who apparently "sees himself as a publisher" and has made himself into a Hollywood elite by treating his perfumes like books and those that make them (called noses) like authors.

Frederic-Malle-Coffret-Collector.pngAll of his perfumes are packaged and named like books, specifically books from the famous Éditions Gallimard publishing company in France whose simple, elegant book designs are legendary. Frédéric actually calls his flagship shop in Paris "Editions de Parfums."

Meetings with Malle are more like meetings with an old time bespoke publisher than a perfume designer, and the casual intelligence he brings to the trade has caught on across the world.

The cross pollination goes both ways: Recently I wrote about the Camel No. 9 cigarette whose branding that evokes Chanel No 19 perfume. L'Occitane Skin Care products, in turn, reminds us of Provence, a place reminiscent of the sweet smells of food and flowers.

avon-ironman.pngAnother perfume that displays unique inspiration is Avon's Ironman fragrance which surprisingly doesn't smell like sweat at all, but instead is "a victorious fusion of energizing citrus and exotic spices spiked with rich woods."

The packaging reminds one of a bike grip, with icons of running, swimming and cycling on the carton. The tagline? "'Anything is Possible,' which happens to be the Ironman Triathlon mantra.

Associating well known brands and designs, from books to bikes, seems to be a winning formula in the perfume world so long as the basics of design and fashion are not transgressed. The million dollar question is whether or not your target market is drawn from your source of inspiration exclusively:

  • Is Avon selling the Ironman fragrance solely to the legions of people who will recognize and admire the brand name?
  • Is Malle appealing mainly to cultured bibliophiles?
  • Or are some brands so ubiquitous and appealing that they have an instant, dramatic appeal that works well in the scent industry?

I don't see Ironman being bought by die hard couch potatoes. In fact, it is much more likely that a huge percentage of Malle's clients are readers.

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Posted by William Lozito at October 7, 2008 7:25 AM
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