Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Are you just making perfume or are you creating an experience?

    Much is being written about shoppers no longer content to buy products. When shopping, they look for an "experience." How prepared are you, as you work on a new perfume, to provide an "experience"?

    Here's a simple example of an "experience" I've created for a fragrance --
Mimosa perfume
Mimosa perfume
    The perfume, Mimosa, can be purchased directly from its web page. But you can also meditate on the quiet garden visual. Then (you have to go to the page to hear it) I've added music -- a "Mimosa Ringtone" which you can download and use in your mobile, iPhone, Android, Blackberry or whatever. Sure, the music here is simple and short but it suggests a path that can be explored. Together on this web page we have a musical, visual, and scent presentation -- ears, eyes, and nose are all engaged. I've created a small "experience," something more than just a perfume.

    How do you get started creating a perfume experience? Experimentation helps. Currently I have one visual theme in my head that, while strong in my imagination and only just beginning to gel as a scent, poses some problems for an "experience." The working title will turn women off UNLESS I can skillfully communicate the beauty I saw in what others might see as a common, or even ugly, sight. I'm pretty sure I can get the music right (it will be longer than a ringtone), I'm sure I can pull the scent together, but I'm not sure I can pull off the graphics -- which will be the key to making this "experience" right. This project will be months in development.

    Would you like a challenge? I have a visual you can use as a student exercise, to get you thinking how you might create a fragrance and music to go with it. The visual is a moving sculpture I call a "twirligig" as it was inspired by the 2015 Whirligig Festival in Shelburne, Nova Scotia (Canada).

    You're welcome to "steal" my twirligig video if, after putting together your fragrance and music, you can't find a better visual on your own.

    Have fun with it. Experiment. Create a perfume "experience."

    To see some real whirligigs and the festival, you can watch this video -- again, for fun.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Finding new perfume names with Scrabble tiles

 Naming a new perfume can be a casual lark or an intense creative effort depending on how much importance you give to that name. The more focused you are on the business of marketing your perfume, the more attention you give to a number of considerations that go into the naming process.

    In brief, you're looking for a name that is appropriate for the scent, a name that goes with the romance you are presenting for your scent. Due to the large number of fragrances on the market, this can take a bit of work.

    All too often you think you have a good name but a little research shows that your name is uncomfortably close to someone else's name. You have to back off and try again.

    On top of it all there's the trademark issue. Will you be establishing valuable rights to the name you have chosen or will you be infringing someone else's rights? In the first case you're gold; in the second, you're mud and you might be forced by someone's lawyers to rename your perfume.

    If, when you are naming a new perfume, you have the feeling that all the good names are taken, I have a suggestion for you, one that I have personally found quite helpful.

    Acquire a set of Scrabble tiles. You'll find them eBay for a few dollars. Then, clear off a tabletop and spread the tiles out in front of you. Then just start pushing them around, making words, words with offbeat spellings, non-words, and "almost" words.

    Give is some time, fifteen minutes here, half and hour there, over a period of a few days. There is something almost magical about having all these letters lying there, in random order, in front of you.

    What I've found as I push the tiles around is that they begin to form possible or almost possible names. I write these "words" down on paper and keep pushing, playing, looking for "words" that look right and sound right for the fragrance I am trying to name. Sometimes I see real words, sometimes I see "words" that might go beautifully with the fragrance even though they are not real words because, through their shape and sound, they suggest real emotions that are right for the fragrance I am trying to name.
    Give it a try. By doing this you might come up with some far more interesting names for your fragrances. And, a warning, before you make your final decision, be sure to do a Google search of the word you want, to see if others might be using it or something close to it. If so, you'll want to make sure that the image they are giving the word does not conflict with the image you are trying to establish. (When you do this reality check you can get some annoying surprises!)

    And last of all, before you finalize your selection, do a TESS search with the US Patent and Trademark Office to see is anyone has trademarked the name already. You can search online free. You're looking for conflicts in International Class 3.

    More in our book, How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Perfume creation: it starts with a story

    How do you start a new perfume? With pen and paper! Yes, pen and paper. But what about smells? Shouldn't you be smelling? Perhaps, but ...

    Your inspiration for a perfume might very well come from a scent, from something you've smelled or from a smell you've imagined while smelling something else. But before you can begin to create a fragrance from that inspiration you need a story, a story in words. Thus the pen and paper, your true starting point.

    What does it mean to have a story upon which to build a perfume? The world's most famous fragrance (Chanel No. 5) has gone through a number of stories which perhaps help account for its longevity. The first story was the perfumer's own description of his inspiration -- the extreme fresh scent of the rivers and lakes in Russia's polar region, a land above the arctic circle, which he experienced during his wartime service then sought to replicate in a perfume upon his discharge from the military.

    But then the story became Chanel and how she named the fragrance "No.5" which indeed was the perfumer's designation on the bottle. But "No.5" now became a good luck symbol tied to Chanel fashion launch dates. Then, in the 1950's, the story became Marilyn Monroe who went to bed with nothing on but "No.5" (although a biographer reports that at home during the day she was naked most of the time and, in addition to "No.5," she favored Jean Patou's "Joy.")

    More recently the story has simply been the fame of the fragrance -- everyone has heard of it and knows it is the world's most famous luxury item. What more is there to say?

    So throughout the "No.5" story, from its creation to its present incarnation, it has always been accompanied by a story, even though the story has evolved to remain relevant.

    So what will your story be? Inspiration from a smell that inspires you? From a place you visited? From a romance you once had or would like to have had? What is in your head as you start to think about your next perfume? If nothing is in your head, if your plan is just to do some random mixing, you aren't ready to start a new perfume.

    There's more to the importance of "story" than just compounding your new perfume. While working your materials to tell a story in scent you should be inspired to repeat that story in words. These words lead to a name for your fragrance and to a marketing theme. These words can help you develop graphic images to promote your perfume. These images don't have to be complex, they simply need to be appropriate. And having a visual image for your perfume can help you with your formulation. Likewise, if you think musically, think of what music might tell or enhance your story. And if you think in color, what color?

    The most important step in getting your new perfume started is developing its story. Then everything else begins to fall into place.

Friday, April 24, 2015

$700,000 for a name?

    If you don't believe that a name can have substantial value, if you don't believe it's worth taking the time to develop a good name for your next perfume, talk to someone in the pharmaceutical industry. Granted, their naming process is a good deal more complicated than what you'll do for a perfume but one of their needs is to find a trademarkable name, just as it should be for you.

    No pharmaceutical company will release a new drug unless its name can be trademarked. It is said that once names are suggested for new drugs, outside trademark consultants review them -- at a cost of from $100,000 to $700,000 per project. They consider names to be that important.

    Fragrance naming is often more casual and even major fragrances have been launched with names that cannot possibly receive trademark protection. But sometimes major brands are launched for a quick profit and the brand owners know that in three years or less the fragrance will be discontinued. But what about your new perfume?

    If you are a small company or an individual with a new perfume, chances are you hope it will sell successfully long past the three year mark and, for you, whether you recognize it or not, the trademark issue is important.

    While there are a number of technical issues that might bar a fragrance name from earning trademark protection, the most common obstacle is prior use by an active marketer of perfume. A trademark cannot be shared.

    If you are creating and selling your own perfume in a casual way with small expectation of sales, you may care little about trademark rights -- or trademark infringement. But if you project involves considerable sums of money, particularly money others have loaned to you or invested in your business, the last thing you want to report to your backers is that all is lost because someone else owns your name.

    Finding a good name for your fragrance can take considerable effort and you never know where a great name might come from. Stories are told of branding agencies being paid considerable sums to develop names only to have the client select a name suggested by an employee.

    But while finding the right name can be a tricky process, checking it for prior use is not so difficult. Even if you are working with lawyers, before you pay them to do a search, you might do a quick search on your own. The "cost" is no more than an hour of your time and it could save you the cost of paying lawyers to try to clear names for you that are quite obviously not available.

    A name might not be as important to you as it would be to a pharmaceutical giant but there are a lot of good reasons why you should put effort into your selection of a name. Picking a name from among "right" names can add value to your business. Thoughtlessly picking a name already in use could cause you some pain. The glorious fact about trademark rights is that you can acquire them without spending a penny -- if you understand how the trademark system works.

    (Thoughts here were inspired by my book, How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume.) 

Friday, April 17, 2015

How to give your new perfume a name the world has never seen before

    The biggest error you can make in naming a perfume is to give it a name that is already in use by someone else. This puts you at a disadvantage in two ways. First, as your fragrance begins to become widely known and talked about, particularly online (something you greatly desire!), you risk getting a cease and desist letter from lawyers who represent whoever was using the name before you. In other words, the more successful your fragrance becomes, the greater the risk you run of being banned from using the name.

    The second disadvantage of using a name that is already is use is that since you cannot own the name, it cannot add value to your business. As pointed out above, it can only add risk.

    So why not give your new perfume a name the world has never seen before -- a coined name, a name invented by you for the sole purpose of identifying your perfume. In the language of trademark lawyers, this is called a "fanciful" name -- a made up name -- a name that never existed until you created it for the sole purpose of naming your perfume.

    A quick point here. What we are calling a name, the legal world calls a trademark. When you put a name on your fragrance and offer it for sale, that name becomes a trademark -- a trademark owned by you -- provided it is not already in use by someone else. Do you see now why you might want an original name for your perfume?

    Before you start thinking of a good original perfume name, take a look at these names and ask yourself what they mean:


    Can you think of any meaning these words have other than the companies they name? These words -- names -- were all invented, for use as trademarks and they are strong trademarks.

    Now look at these names:


    These too are made up names, names of perfumes. Until these perfumes were launched these words did not exist. As trademarks they are strong and that is an added value for the companies that invented and used them (Syntomatic Corp., Parfums Fioret, Comme des Garcons, Caron, Tiffany).

    Perhaps you would like a special name -- a name invented by you -- that exists exclusively to name (trademark!) your new perfume. Here are some suggestions.

    Can you remember when girls were named Jane and Sally and Silvia? But now you might encounter Jayne, or Sahllie, or Cylvia. You can apply this renaming strategy to a perfume name.

    But first look at a starting point. 

    A good starting point -- which will be the ending point for most who are naming perfumes -- is to develop a conventional name that ties together the scent and the marketing story, a name that romances the fragrance around the story/theme on which the fragrance was developed.

    Then there are the checklists of other nitty-picky concerns to address but the big caution is to do your best to see if anyone else is already using the name you want. If this proves to be the case there are some strategies to work around the problem (but we won't go there today.)

    Today I want to help you work with that that name you've just developed -- that name that ties together your scent and your story. I want to suggest to you that before you put this name on a bottle, you might look into the possibility that you can create a name that does all that your current name will do but will also give you stronger trademark protection, like the protection VERIZON gets from the "VERIZON" name and Tiffany gets from "TRUESTE." The strategy is to turn your normal name into a coined word that, if possible, captures the theme, the sound, the feel, and even the smell you want to represent.

    Starting with your chosen normal name, start to play with the letters. Try rearranging them a bit. Try adding letters or subtracting letters. Try to create a new word that captures the feeling and even the sound of the word you started with but is new -- your invention.

    Don't try to do it all in one sitting. Make a game of it. Sleep on it. Play with it again. You might come out with a great new -- totally original -- name for your perfume. But, if you don't, you haven't lost anything as you still have your normal name. And you might have better luck creating an original word to name your perfume next time. Give it a bit of practice.

    (More of my thoughts on naming a perfume can be found in How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume.)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

5-Day Perfumery Workshop In New York City

5-Day Perfumery Workshop

In New York City

May 11-15, 2015

 For details, follow this link to the PerfumersWorld website.

Then, for discount information, contact me.

More information will be available shortly.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Designing a new perfume: The first step is the most important

    What is your "first step" when you get started on a new perfume? Have you ever given it serious thought? Do you start with a direction in mind? Does that direction involve a scent, a theme, or perhaps a market you want to create for?

    How do you express that direction? Is it just a vague notion in your head or do you make notes on paper, to guide you? If somebody else is developing the juice for you it's almost certain that you'll put some thoughts down on paper.

    Oh, and by the way ... do you have a name in mind for this new fragrance of yours?

How much thought do you give to a name?

    You might not have given it much thought but you do need a name -- any name -- to identify your project. While you are working, the name you've given your perfume might be just a temporary name, a code name. But have you ever given thought to the idea that a name -- a real name -- can help define and guide your whole project? Have you ever tried to develop a new perfume by first giving it a name?

    It might not be your style but there's a good reason to try it. A good name tells or suggests a story, and having a story (1) helps guide you in developing a scent that pays off that story and (2) helps you promote your new fragrance -- "This fragrance is all about this story."

    By starting with a name, you give yourself a goal to work toward. As you develop your fragrance you keep asking yourself "Does this addition take it closer to the name or does it pull it away?" The name gives you focus.

    But best of all, if you use a name -- a real name -- as your point of focus, you tend to create a harmony between the name, the fragrance, and the story. The fragrance "is" the story. The name says it all.

Naming ... art beyond intuition

    Naming seems like such a simple thing to do and, at times, it can be. But have you ever followed pharmaceutical advertising and noticed what peculiar names are given to new drugs? Drug companies have to follow a host of guidelines in naming new drugs. The process can take several years and cost several hundred thousand dollars.

    Most of the names they come up with are pretty forgettable. Yet sometimes pharmaceutical names get in your head with the help of TV advertising. Think Ambien, Nexium, Lipitor, Lyrica, Celebrex, Viagra, Flomax, Chantix. Even if you're not exactly sure of that they do, the names are pleasant, not hard to remember, and so sweet you tend to ignore the side effects.

    So how much effort do you put into naming your perfumes? If you're like  me, the answer can be embarrassing. Frankly -- in the past -- I've mostly winged it. After working up a new fragrance (not by following what is suggested here!) I am generally too brain dead to give much though to the name. This is a huge mistake.

A check for $5,000 changed my attitude toward names

    Over the summer of 2014, out of the blue I received an offer from a party that wanted to BUY one of my names -- just the name. I could keep the fragrance (after renaming it) and they had no interest in the formula. This wasn't a deal that would make me rich but the offer was generous enough to seal the deal.

    And, with the money in the bank, I began to pay more attention to the other names I was using for my fragrances -- and discovered out of the eight currently offered on my PGLightyears website, only ONE had the potential of being valuable to another marketer (and if you look at that website, it's not the one you might think!)

    This experience got me interested in the naming process and what goes into a good name, and how to make a pretty good name even better and give it more potential value. My thoughts, and research, went into a book. I expected to write it in six weeks but it took me twice that long as some points I thought would be simple turned out to be anything but. The book is called How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume and the theme is simply that, for very little extra effort, you can build a lot more value into every name you give a new fragrance, and there is a sound, logical reason for this.

    The book itself may or may not interest you but you'll get some idea of the thinking behind it just by looking at this web page.

    Paying to read a book on naming your perfume may seem a little like naming your new baby out of a baby book. But from a business point of view, a good name can have some real value, measured not only in art but in cash rewards.