August 25, 2014

Scented logo startup raises brand awareness

PHOTO | Pablo Robles
PHOTO | Pablo Robles
Bob Barry, owner of Harwinton landscaping company Barry Farms LLC, and his wife Tamara Tragakiss Barry, are developing a scented logo for their new Christmas tree farm with the hopes of creating a more powerful brand identity with customers.
PHOTO | Pablo Robles
Melanie McMillan, founder, Essence + Ink

Melanie McMillan said she believes many small businesses aren't doing everything they can to attract and retain customers, as they neglect the most powerful of the five senses: smell.

McMillan, a public relations director at Farmington ad agency Keiler & Co., has developed a side startup business called Essence + Ink, which creates scents for small businesses to help them identify their brand to consumers.

"In business-to-business environments, where brands often have a difficult time differentiating themselves from the competition, scent is a powerful competitive advantage," said McMillan.

According to the Sense of Smell Institute, a brand with an scented logo has a 65 percent chance of being remembered by a customer after one year, while an unscented brand has a 50 percent chance of being forgotten within the first three months.

McMillan said connecting a smell to a business's brand allows consumers to tie memories to the company, enhancing perception and loyalty to the brand, and increasing revenue.

"Brands have a difficult time getting their message out and reaching an audience through all of the other noise," said McMillan. "This is a way for them to really break through."

In the late 1990's McMillan formally studied natural essences for five years. She gained her aromatherapy certification through her studies in France and she visits Europe to tune-up her scientific research. Her interest in botanical essences was originally sparked by a sixth grade science project where she had to make her own perfume.

McMillan founded an olfactive logo company, Bailey McMillan Artisan Perfumes and Creative Services, a decade ago.

With her research in botanical essences and experience in public relations, she created Essence + Ink in January as a new branch to her business.

McMillan says what sets her company apart is that she works only with natural oils that are sustainable and ethically grown and harvested, as opposed to larger olfactive marketing companies that use synthetic scents.

"Mass market oils are not like the types of oils I use because they are distilled at a high heat," said McMillan.

The process of harvesting oils to make botanical essences is much like harvesting grapes and wine, according to McMillan.

McMillan's clients tend to be social entrepreneurs who are more environmentally aware and run smaller businesses. Her company has three clients at the moment.

To begin the process of creating a scented logo, McMillan evaluates her clients' personality based on their scent preference. McMillan has her clients smell approximately 25 different all natural botanical essences, varying from flower scents to citrus and wood.

Clients narrow down the scents that appeal to them, and McMillan creates a prototype based on the exercise.

Bob Barry, owner of Harwinton landscaping company Barry Farms LLC, and his wife Tamara Tragakiss Barry are one of McMillan's clients who are in the process of creating a scent for their Christmas tree farm, a new extension of their landscaping business.

The Barry's purchased their 14 acres of land a year and a half ago, and have planted 1,800 trees. As they wait for their trees to grow and become marketable, they began McMillan's process of developing a scent for their business.

"We're getting a lot more than just a scent," said Tragakiss Barry. "We know there are a lot of Christmas tree farms out there, so this helps distinguish us."

Tragakiss Barry said McMillan's analytic process of finding their scent has helped them develop and clarify their brand.

Having a scent affiliated with their business is what will allow people to tie memories to their farm, making Christmas tree shopping at Barry Farms a tradition, said Tragakiss Barry.

Tragakiss Barry said since they won't be ready to start selling their trees for another seven years, creating a scent is something they can do now to start developing their brand identity and introducing it to the market.

"We need more than just trees and wreaths," said Tragakiss Barry. "We have to become a destination."

The Barry's are going to start using their scent this fall on various items including business cards, brochures, wreath tags, and bows.

McMillan said scent speaks to a part of the brain that connects with emotions.

"The goal of experiential marketing is to form an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand," said McMillan.

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