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The name and soul of a fragrance: Naming, a decisive and concrete step towards success for companies, services, products and…fragrances

The name and soul of a fragrance: Naming, a decisive and concrete step towards success for companies, services, products and…fragrances

06 August 2020

One of the key elements for businesses and products to become successful is the name. When launching a business or bringing a new fragrance to life, sooner or later the time comes to choose a name. The inspiration can arrive even before you start drawing up the business plan or, as it occurs on most occasions, it is the result of a thoughtful and recursive process, that is the brand naming.

Rigorous rules and imagination must come together to give meaning and momentum to the business idea we conceived before introducing it onto the market.
It is an important and often underestimated phase responding, though, to a primary cognitive and communicative peculiarity of humans. In fact, the main feature which truly distinguishes human beings from animals is the ability to craft words by developing through them their own thoughts and knowledge.
And the greatness of humans, from the perspective of both religious and philosophical thought, is that of having the role or the task, not so much of creating things, but of giving them a meaning.
Giving things a name means making them exist, giving them back a true identity, and therefore shedding light on what they really are.
Yet, giving things a name is also much more.
With the saying “Nomen omen”, the ancient Romans wanted to express the concept of the augural value attributed to the name. This is because the Romans believed the destiny of a human being was indicated in the name itself of the person. Hiding the name, as Ulysses did with his one in the presence of Polyphemus, with the purpose of saving his own life and the lives of his comrades (“My name is Nobody. My mother and father call me Nobody, as do all the others who are my companions” ­ Odyssey, Book 9, Line 365), is the teaching handed down from Homer to us on how the name represents, in addition to identity, even the essence of how we are perceived and, ultimately, of who we are.

Naming is a key element of the communication strategy
The choice of a name, whether of a person, a public service or an industrial product, is the outcome of a strategic marketing operation which takes into consideration both the quality of the object to be named, and the possible use in established context. Within the business and manufacturing environment, the goal is actually to create an image that is adherent to the product, and that is suitable to be employed easily and effectively in the advertising campaign.
The naming ­ in other words the study, identification and definition of the names of products, services or companies ­ is one of the most strategic communication activities. The success of a company leads off right there, from the choice of a sound which is able to describe, differentiate and evoke. It is not a simple thing to do since with few syllables everything that must be immediately perceptible is conveyed.
On the usage of words in the realm of perfumes, and particularly on the attribution of a name to a brand or a new fragrance, a “best practice” exists because the name is not just an “empty” coding, but also a sharp tip without which the resulting best balanced rod would merely be a stick and not a javelin.
The name gives life to the existence of a perfume through its positioning, its imagery, its impact, its legal protection. All those keys participating in the success of a brand have to be very clear, as well as the values you want to communicate and, based on the latter ones, the sensations you want to arouse when the name is read or heard.

The importance and value of carrying a famous name
Until the late 1800s, very few manufacturers emphasized the name of their brand, and there was no consistent advertising communication. Most of the manufacturers operated in local markets and often sold unbranded products to retailers. The retailers, in turn, commercialized the products with no brand or under the name of their shop. Following globalization, the market is progressively expanding beyond national borders and brands are rapidly becoming the most valuable resources to some companies.
According to Brand Finance 2019 ranking, presented last year during the Davos World Economic Forum, Amazon scored the first position among the most valuable brands (for its name the company draw inspiration from the one of the Amazon river, the widest and most mighty river on our planet: is it pure fatality that today Amazon is the worldwide largest e-commerce?). Amazon is confirmed to be the brand with the highest economic value, followed by Apple and Google. Immediately after them on the podium, there are Microsoft, Samsung, AT&T and Facebook.
And if the US and hi-tech companies master the ranking of the most valuable brands in the world, it cannot be said the same by looking at the analysis of the most solid and enduring brands. Here, Italy dominates across the globe, and more specifically one of its luxury brands does: Ferrari, whose value stood at 9,1 billion dollars, i.e. growing by 9%.
What makes brands so valuable? The pace of information and technology dissemination has made it easier to imitate a product. In consequence, it is more difficult to maintain a competitive advantage uniquely over performance attributes.
The brand name is an essential part of the brand image, it is the most visible reference of its positioning. While the image associated with a brand can be built with advertising and over time, the brand executives realize that a well-thought-out and well chosen name helps to identify the product, it is able to confer intrinsic force on the brand and, above all, it represents a rich configuration of symbols and meanings which are embodied by the products.

Rationality and emotions for a successful name
As it was customary in the past, when he utilized his surname, Enzo Ferrari did not have to ponder too much about the name to be given to his car company.
Even the creation of extraordinary inventions leverages the surname of those who discovered them: it worked in the case of the bechamel (Louis de Béchamel), and with Rome’s GRA ­ Grande Raccordo Anulare (by Eugenio Gra, the engineer who designed it in the early 1950s), with the biro pen (the ballpoint pen by László József Bíró), with the pasteurization process (Louis Pasteur), and with the saxophone (Antoine-Joseph Sax).
In the world of perfumery, a fragrance is not necessarily being associated with the name of the brand owner (Coco Chanel, Calvin Klein, Missoni, Armani, Dior, Davidoff, etc.) but, even more than with other product typologies, the names of new perfumes must be easy to pronounce and have a pleasant sound, be simple to memorize, sufficiently different from the names of competitors, and fairly akin to the codes proper to the product category. Nevertheless, as Annamaria Testa, in an online article published in 2014 on the weekly Internazionale, noted with specific regard to the names of famous fragrances, “the product codes are not always intuitive: there is a very well known perfume that is called Opium, and another which is called N°5; you can find Tabu, Arpège, Giorgio, Red Door, 24 Faubourg, Dolce Vita, Black Cashmere, Kokorico, Insolence and Egoïste…”
Any product or brand name has “inherent” characteristics that can result in elements of success. However, there are general evaluation references, and among them: a name which is short, simple/complex, easy to pronounce, easy to read, easy to recognize, easy to remember, having a pleasant sound, and so on.
It can be about the questionable usage of an ordinary word, or evoking the product and its use. It can be totally imaginative, like Vaseline, a “multipurpose” product having no connotation with respect to any proper application. Frigidaire for refrigerators, Apple for computers, Caterpillar mostly for crawler equipment, etcetera.

Evoking unforgettable memories, sensations, moments
Even the evocative power of places and the charm of geographical memory linked to the sense of smell, inspired several successful perfumes. Let’s recall Roma by Laura Biagiotti, Sicily by Dolce & Gabbana, Parma by Acqua di Parma, Capri by Carthusia. But also, speaking of scent brands, the collection of luxury fragrances The Spirit of Dubai by Nabeel, representing Dubai, a city that this very day is an international symbol of wealth and progress. Consistently, the fragrances making up this line have been created with top quality ingredients, and are presented in sumptuous bottles and precious leather cases.
A quick overview of the naming of some perfumes gone down in history can be helpful in guiding us.
Chanel N°5, probably one of the worldwide most famous fragrances, was launched by Coco Chanel in 1921. Created by Ernest Beaux, it is called N°5 because among the five proposals the perfumer made, Mademoiselle chose the one in bottle number five which had special importance to her: it was indicative of the essence, of the mystical meaning of the human being, namely its quintessence.
Created in 1925 by Jacques Guerlain, Shalimar is the first oriental fragrance of modern perfumery, and its Sanskrit name means “abode of love.” The perfume is a tribute to the legendary love story between the Indian emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal, and a celebration of their meetings in the Shalimar Gardens of Agra, India. In that location, after the death of his beloved, the emperor had one of the most fascinating temples on the planet built, the Taj Mahal.
One of the masterpieces in the history of perfumery is Arpège created in 1927 by Jeanne Lanvin for the thirtieth birthday of her daughter Marie-Blanche who, thrilled by trying the fragrance, as music lover defined it an arpeggio ­ arpège, in French.
It was 1957 when the fashion designer and close friend of Audrey Hepburn, Hubert de Givenchy, created only for her L’Interdit, the first perfume of his Maison. It seems that, as soon as the couturier broke the news by asking her to be the testimonial of the fragrance he would later launch on the market and to which she wanted to give the name “Audrey,” the famous star exclaimed: “Mais, c’est interdit!” (It’s forbidden. You can’t.)
Eternity by Calvin Klein is over thirty years old, but continues to be appreciated by fans as on the first day: launched in 1988, it was created by the stylist on the occasion of his wedding with Kelly Rector (the marriage lasted until 2006), and he had the same name engraved on his future wife’s ring.
Born in 1998, and launched by Annick Ménardo as an evolution of the historic Poison, Dior Hypnotic Poison is one of the most classic sweet perfumes, with oriental notes. The name Hypnotic was inspired by the verses of the poet Charles Baudelaire: “One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters…”
In the hyper-connected digital society, what really makes the difference is the distinctive trait, the ability to detect “what is really special” among the large number of offers. Therefore, the choice of a perfume which personifies us begins upstream, in the encounter with a brand infusing its peculiarity into the most exclusive propositions.
The process of recognizing a brand gets started precisely from its naming, and how it can remain imprinted in the minds of consumers. It is a decisive moment for the launch of a new fragrance that, as Dominique Moellhausen ­ Perfumer and R&D Vice Director of Moellhausen S.p.A. ­ discloses, “in its conceptual uniqueness, it has the strength to enhance the raw materials composing it, their origin and history, the refined formulas crafted with a perfect balance between tradition and innovation.”
A creative process which at Moellhausen very often contemplates the joint work of the marketing division and the perfumers on “concept products,” demo products that aim at highlighting the imaginative and descriptive capability of the finished (albeit hypothetical) product, together with the objective of delivering its factual go-to-market strategy. In those cases, the naming is an important project phase which is taken with extreme seriousness by the Company, and it is used as a team building tool capable of reinforcing the bonds among the involved departments.
With the purpose of interpreting and enhancing the corporate DNA, and the identity of the products, a recent concrete example shared with our client companies, concerns the creation of fragrances characterizing archetypes outlined by the psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung.
Starting from the consideration that brands and products have clear and recognizable personalities, with the “Fragrance Archetypes” line Moellhausen has given life and scent to universal archetypes. An exercise which does not represent an end in itself, but is intended to identify what are the essential olfactory characters distinguishing brands and products, being well aware that “80% of human decisions depend on emotions, intuitions, long-term memory and subconscious motivations.”

On the basis of those corporate experiences and the numerous reported evidences, the indications found in literature and on the web, we invite you to deepen the topic of naming also by reading, “GIVING A NAME IS TO GIVE A FUTURE: THE GUIDELINES OF THE ROUTE TO FIND THE MAGIC OF A NAME.” A concise exploration of the crucial steps to enhance activities and products by giving them the most effective name.


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Although the information contained in this document is presented in good faith and believed to be correct, Moellhausen makes no representations or warranties as to the completeness or accuracy of the information. This document is provided on an “as is” basis. No representations or warranties, either express or implied, of fitness for a particular purpose are made herein with respect to information or products to which information refers. Moellhausen shall not be liable for any irresponsible, improper or illegal use, direct or indirect, of the information or the products represented herein and it shall not be liable for any damage arising from any use in connection therewith. 
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