The International Writers Magazine:Branding and Money
are what you stink?
smell of armpits, dirty laundry, and soiled diapers are all now
highly sought-after scents, as companies, pursuing smelly-branding
have all lined up, excited for having exclusive rights to aromas
which they can use to bring odor to their lifeless products. Like,
peachy-smelly-bras or chocolate-smelly-underpants and so on.
The scent of new bread
All of a sudden,
there is a rush to secure a copyright on any distinct smell from our
daily lives, and exclusively use it in conjunction with a branded product
or a service. Like the smell of bread in a hot oven at the bakery to
be used by a sandwich maker, or like the smell of Gouda cheese and the
notorious whiff of dirty socks, to be exclusively used by a shoe maker.
So here it is. This is what happened to the most recent aggressive attempts
by Paris-based company, Eden Sarl, who tried very hard to get the smell
of strawberries exclusively copyrighted for products of soap, stationery,
leather goods and clothing.
Initially, EU Trademark agencies refused their earlier applications,
so they took it to their regional second-highest courts. They too, rejected
Eden Sarls application. So whats all the fuss?
The smell of armpits, dirty laundry, and soiled diapers are all now
highly sought-after scents, as companies, pursuing smelly-branding have
all lined up, excited for having exclusive rights to aromas which they
can use to bring odor to their lifeless products. Like, peachy-smelly-bras
or chocolate-smelly-underpants and so on. There are some not so pungent
odors, like apples, bananas and oranges, but all the attempts for exclusive
use have failed.
The sensory expansions
This brand new frontier is said to be giving a big boost to odorless
products. The general idea is that by using smell as an exclusive sensory
tickler, now considered by many, a stroke of branding genius, marketers
can bring life to their already dead brands. Sounds very sensory, but
in reality, its time to smell the coffee.
According to the practitioners of these trendy branding jockeys, every
corporation is supposed to have their own distinct branded smell. Remember
the fumes and the steamy whiffs when you enter a sausage factory, a
Laundromat, beauty saloon or funeral parlor.
Now just wait for the exclusive and powerful smell of a bank, where
every branch smells the same. Perhaps the smell of a fish store, or
a realty office with a smell of a rose-garden, with soft music all aimed
to hypnotize the customer. What about the smell of a hotel? Should it
smell like an airport or the last diesel taxi? The desperate hours of
the desperate branding are already here. You not only need to hear and
see the collapse, but now you can smell the rat too.
When there is no proper name brand identity, and there is no sophisticated
cyber-branding game plan, then there is certain panic to find dumb and
dumber things to do and keep the branding circus going in all directions.
According to BBC reports, the EU courts stated "Strawberries do
not have just one smell. This means that the different varieties of
strawberries produce significantly different smells." Surely, we
now need some wine tasters and keen noses.
On the strawberry issues, the company wanted this aroma exclusively
for their product lines, just like the way some companies attempted
to claim exclusive corporate colors, which indecently holds no water
either and no longer a winning case, as there are only few colors and
billions of companies and products. Blue is no longer exclusive to IBM,
but equally used by ten thousand other computer companies. What worked
in the fifties, as an exclusive color idea, is no longer valid in the
post-millennium market. Dont you smell trouble here?
As part of a new craze for smelly-branding, hip brand managers are desperately
trying to project a sensory message with an exclusive aroma. Checkbooks
are being scented, clothes are pre-perfumed, and cars are wildly sprayed.
Now you know why massage oils are scented, and how aromatherapy became
For perfume companies, this was a normal thing to come out with an exclusive
fragrance, and to sell it as an expensive branded perfume or cologne.
But now, for branding to rush after the generic smells from the public
domain and claim them exclusive for their product lines, is a short
lived gimmick of a tricky branding attempt by the feeble few marketers
and their nasal clogged minds.
Any brand can develop any original fragrance and use it just like any
fashion brands have already done so successfully, but to say that the
smell of the ocean and sea salt is exclusively copyrighted to a tire
company is really having the creative noses buried in merde! Phew, thats
© Naseem Javed - November 2005
author of Naming for Power, is recognized as a world authority on Global
Name Identities, Image, Cyber-Branding and Domain Issues. He introduced
The Laws of Corporate Naming in the 80's and also founded ABC
Namebank, a consultancy established in New York and Toronto
a quarter century ago.
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