Friday, May 8, 2020

Start your perfume with a picture

    What is the best way to get started on a new perfume? You don't need a committee and a 50-page brief. Try finding a picture that can inspire a story and a perfume that goes with the story. I found this strategy particularly useful last week when I was working on my new perfume.

    I had a name and I had the beginning of a formula. I planned to use a picture in my ad for the perfume so I started looking at pictures. I found three that seemed to suggest the story I planned to tell. Each would have suggested a slightly different telling of the story. Finally one picture was selected.

    When I selected that picture I just hoped it would "work" with the scent, the working name for the fragrance, and the story I would tell. Then something magical happened. The picture -- the visual image -- took over as my inspiration. Looking at it, it told its own story, the story I had in mind but with a significant twist.

    First, my working name now looked slightly off. It wasn't wrong but it wasn't hitting the bullseye. My first thought was to find a synonym for the name I had but one with a slightly different shade of meaning. This would involve a trip to Roget's Thesaurus and a synonym search online. Neither source gave me what I was looking for. Then I discovered a very similar word, one that was new to me but whose meaning was exactly what I was looking for. I'm sticking with it for now, even with the recognition that I will have to do some explaining in my ad. That will become part of the story. As for the story, the picture and the new name express my original idea but with new depth and a way forward that should make them far more powerful.

    Then for the scent. I had been working in several directions, pushing the smell this way and that way, but now, looking at the picture and thinking of my "enhanced" story, the direction the scent would take became clear. The direction suggested would synchronize with both picture and story.

    Thanks to these insights I can now go forward with this project with confidence, win or lose. The scent, the story, and the picture work together and, for a new perfume, that is ideal. Now how could starting with a picture help you?

A picture could bring your project into focus

    I've been involved with photography for a number of years so I have a pretty large file of images. But you don't need your own pictures to find inspiration and a clear story. Use magazines, old and new, use newspapers, use catalogs, search for the perfect "shot" for your fragrance, even if you can't use the image which is inspiring you because you don't have the rights to it. Suck all the meaning, the theme, the suggested scent out of the image you've chosen. Then, if all goes well, if the fragrance comes together and the scent comes together, you might see if you can't find an artist or photographer who can produce for you your version of the chosen picture. (A good artist or photographer will guide you though copyright law as it applies to the image you're trying to create.) Then, if you can pull this off, you'll have a scent, a story, and a picture that go together, the ideal situation for a new perfume.

Test for free

    How effective is this technique for putting together a very convincing promotion for a new fragrance? Try it yourself. It won't cost you a cent. This is just a drill, a student exercise. Find a picture that inspires you. With pen and paper take notes. Make a story from the image. Write up a description of the scent that would go with your story. If you come out with some strong ideas, perhaps you'll want to recreate the image (in your own way) and develop a scent to go with it.

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