Developing A Name For Your Perfume — And Protecting It

A good name for your perfume is worth developing for three reasons — (1) it helps to sell the fragrance, (2) it helps people remember the fragrance, and (3) if it is truly an original name, it can become a valuable property in itself.

Sometimes good names just seem to drop out of the sky and attach themselves to a perfume. Sometimes you can work like crazy to develop your perfume but a good name for it seems to escape you. Every idea you get seems too common, or is too close to what someone else is using, or simply doesn't give the fragrance a buzz.

So how do you go about developing a good name for your perfume when ideas aren't dropping out of the sky for you? How, when you do get an idea for a name can you test it, to see if it might really be a good name and not a name that will look far less appealing when the sun rises the following morning?

This is why it is useful to be aware of techniques that have been used by others to help discover strong names for perfumes. The name itself is part of a bridge between the consumer and the fragrance. The consumer, in most cases, will encounter the name before encountering the scent itself. Indeed, if there is not an attraction in the name, the consumer is likely to ignore the fragrance altogether.

The name serves as part of the bait that draws the consumer to the fragrance, with high expectations, to sample it. Until the fragrance is sampled it is unlikely to be purchased. But, as the fragrance is locked away inside the bottle, the consumer usually has to make an effort to get at it, to sample it. So the name of the perfume must inspire the consumer to make this effort.

But this inspiration in the name must also suggest and connect with the theme that will be used to advertise the perfume. This is part of the bridge that the name will help build.

The wrong name upsets everything. One type of wrong name is a name that consumers simply do not react to. It's not that the name is "bad." It's worse than bad. It causes no reaction at all. It is simply overlooked. So it does nothing to help sell the perfume.

The second type of "wrong" name is a name that doesn't seem to fit the fragrance. The name draws consumers to the fragrance to sample it but, when they do, they are puzzled because what they smell smells nothing like what they expected to smell. For example, call your absolutely jarring, techno perfume "Peace," people will wonder what you were thinking. It's like naming your pit bull "Fluffy" or your bijan "Fang." Perhaps you are thinking the disharmony between the name and the scent is an inside joke but in that case you had better be very sure your prospects understand and appreciate the joke.

Names should be easy to remember, and to pronounce. A tricky name and pronunciation (say from a foreign language) can make potential customers feel uncomfortable and cause them to avoid giving your fragrance a try as they might have to ask for it by name.

Yet simple names can be harder to develop.

A final big consideration in naming perfume is the protection you want to establish for your name. A really good name can be really valuable, but can you protect it? Your name for your perfume becomes its trademark. Some trademarks are stronger than others and can yield better protection. Indeed, strong trademarks (perfume names) can become valuable assets in themselves — if they meet certain criteria. You can work on these criteria before you finalize your perfume's name.

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Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.