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How Brands Can Leverage The Power of Scent

By interacting with all the senses, marketers can create more holistic experiences.

Plus Aziz
Plus Aziz on October 13, 2013. @plusaziz

PSFK recently wrote about scent marketing and how it can lead to concrete goals like having in-store customers linger for a longer time, creating a branded destination, or even bolstering loyalty. We caught up with Dawn Goldworm, who founded 12.29, a scent branding agency focusing on various public spaces (e.g. nightclubs, hotels, runway shows) to capture top-line thoughts on the field of olfactive branding and how scent has the power to trigger memory and emotions simultaneously.

Tell us about your background and how you were trained in olfactive science.

I initially trained at International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) for 5 years under Ron Winnegrad learning raw materials. I then trained for 1 year at Firmenich under Sabine de Tscharner in fragrance genealogy followed by an additional 2 years at the Givaudan Perfumery School in Argenteuil under Jean Guichard in the sourcing and extraction of ingredients. During this time, I also worked on a master’s at New York University on “Olfactive Branding” which is essentially the inspiration and vision behind 12.29.

What are some basic things a brand should think about before contacting a scent-specialist like yourself. To what extent is your work based on ‘a unified brand strategy’?

Olfactive branding is a natural and powerful extension of the brand’s existing marketing strategy. If the brand has a strong, unified vision, it becomes much easier to translate the brand’s identity into a scent. This does not necessarily mean that the brand must be well established. We work with young and mature brands alike. The key is to know what your brand represents aesthetically, emotionally and commercially within your market space.

To what extent is a scent able to change people’s behavior. Can you give an example where you saw this at work.

If the scent is designed exclusively for the brand and transmits not only the brand’s identity through smell but also resonates with the brand’s target market, the scent can have a very powerful emotional response with the end client. This emotional response can dictate behavior whether through unconsciously convincing the customer to stay longer in a space or return to the space more often, creating deeper brand loyalty.

We often work with social spaces … nightclubs, restaurants, lounges and hotels. In these environments, our clients ask that their consumers often linger longer and return often. We have received many requests from these consumers who frequent these locations to be able to purchase the scent because they have such positive emotions with the environment and thus would like to bring that feeling home to experience again and again.

Synesthesia seems to be pivotal in how you work with brands. Tell us about the visual-to-scent synesthesia you leverage to service your clients.

My synesthetic ability allows me to see the scent of a brand aesthetically, feel the scent of a brand emotionally and in some respects, hear the scent of a brand audibly. In this regard, I can translate these keys pieces of the brand’s identity into a scent.

The most intriguing part of my synesthetic ability is that it is not my subjective opinion but rather a filter that allows others to understand scent on more of an unconscious level. When we have finished creating a scent that for example; smells blue, has the texture of glass and is linear in shape, all people familiar with the brand will identity the scent to have these components.

You’ve used the word ‘Scentimoticons’ before. Tell us more about this term and its role in the human experience.

“Scentemotican” is a word I like to use that defines a scent and emotion that are forever linked in your olfactive memory. This means that when you first experience a smell/ scent/ perfume, the emotion that you feel or the emotional experience that you have with the scent, which is also in great part linked with other cues present at the time such as sight, sound, taste and touch, is terminally linked to that scent. These “scentemoticons” live in your olfactive memory, the largest and most acute part of your memory, collectively containing all of your most powerful emotional memories. Once these emotional memories are formed, it is almost impossible to separate the emotion from the scent. In branding, this can be a very strong message.

What’s a trend that makes you optimistic about the future?

The trend towards responsible living makes me optimistic about the future. Society is slowly recognizing that we contribute to the health, growth, destruction and demise of our earth and our world. By loving mother nature and caring for one another, we can create peace and love and a better place for all to live. Recycling, eating local, using sustainable energy, avoiding plastic, and being mindful of our choices to the earth and to one another all make me excited about the future.

Thanks Dawn!

12.29

Thinking...