The Scent of a Brand

Photo: alice965.com

I've been of "working age" for just shy of a decade and during that time I've had several awful jobs - an ice cream-scooper extraordinaire, a morning shift barista and a cocktail waitress, to name a few - but the worst job I ever had was in retail. I worked at a store called Hollister & Co. and one of my duties as a "floor model" was to walk around the store spraying everything with their signature cologne, So Cal. The cologne didn't smell awful but the store was completely saturated with the woodsy fragrance pour homme (you could smell the store before you even entered) and I would leave every shift with a terrible headache. As much as I hated spritzing, So Cal was an important part of the store's brand. Even if someone had only shopped at the store once, they knew that particular scent as Hollister's - mission accomplished. Little did I know that the first person to grasp the importance of fragrance in branding was none other than Coco Chanel. When she created her signature parfum Chanel No. 5 in 1921, Coco had her salesladies douse her French boutique with the pricey floral scent, top to bottom. However, with technology like automatic scent diffusers people no longer have to manually spray their stores like me and the Chanel salesladies. And, companies are catching on to the trend of scent-diffusing in droves: Westin, Victoria's Secret, Bloomingdale’s, British Airways, J.W. Marriott, Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco, Hugo Boss, Juicy Couture, Ritz Carlton and Jimmy Choo "all brand their retail environments with distinctive aromas (some custom-designed, some off-the-shelf) wafting through the lobbies and aisles." Smell is the strongest of our five senses so this marketing maneuver does make sense, but what do you think of fragrance being a primary factor in branding? Do you prefer to shop in boutiques that smell of daffodil blossoms and patchouli extract? I appreciate nice smells, but everyone's idea of a "nice smell" is different; I think that for major companies, like airlines and hotels, to diffuse their lobbies and cabins with the scent of spring meadows is risky business and could be a turn-off to some.

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Posted by Emily

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