It might seem strange to someone looking to become a fragrance enthusiast to be told that they need to understand branding, how it works, and how branding can help them. After all, isn’t the point of perfume to enjoy the artistry of the scent and not ogle over what Chanel’s doing with their logo?
Well, yes, it is mostly about the juice. It should be mostly about the fragrance and the art and science behind our imperative but often overlooked sense of smell. Where branding and knowing your brands helps is when it comes time to identifying real bottles from fake bottles, and being able to recognize the big players in the field. There are some general rules when it comes to being brand aware. Don’t worry, you don’t need to study hard or spend hours staring at a bottle of perfume in order to tell 90% of the fakes out there from real stock.
Here are some quick and dirty tips to keep in mind as you try to familiarize yourself with how a perfume house might brand its products.
1. No matter mid to high end fragrance houses will always get their logo right. If you got a bottle where any of the logos looks a little too thick/thin, looks out of place, or the type doesn’t look completely legit then you need to go compare your bottle with a known authentic bottle. Perfume houses–as with any brand–are going to be strict about their brand identity and how their logo is displayed. Companies who have logos treat it very seriously. They have design documents that are sometimes hundreds of pageslong that outline what colors their logo can and cannot be, what sizes the logo can and cannot be, and what their logo can and cannot be printed on. With restrictions like those on how to use an image, no brand would (or should) ever let a defective or awkward looking logo adorn one of their authentic products.
2. Misspellings are not always factory errors. Sometimes products go out the door with old information or misspelled information. I’ve seen it sometimes on things like kitchen appliances and lighting fixtures. With more consumer products being made in foreign countries, I’ve seen more than my fair share of misspelled product manuals with barely coherent instructions. The scariest one was a misprinted warning on a plastic bag that informed me that the bag “should” be placed over a child’s head. Heck you sometimes get misprinted money, but a misspelling on a high end product like perfume would make me a bit suspicious. Especially if there’s more than one misspelled word on there. Fragrance houses, due to the perceived luxury of their product, should be keeping close eye on what their product labels say. Once again, if you’ve got a misspelling, that product needs to be checked against a known authentic bottle.
3. A company would never misspell their own name. I know how blatantly obvious this is, but there have been instances where people go on the search of answers when they have a counterfeit bottle of Channel No.5 or Gerlaine Shalimar. I know some of us just aren’t strong spellers, but before you buy something, make sure the company name is at least spelled right. Remember, this stuff can get expensive. You want to drop $100 on a bottle of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, and not a bottle of Chanel Coco Madamoselle.
4. All design elements are uniform on all bottles of the same production. Yes, flankers exist and bottle redesigns happen often, so you need to do your research before you buy. If you’re buying a brand new bottle of Chanel No.5 you need to go out of your way to make sure you’ve got a really clear picture of the present production line Chanel No.5. That means making sure all of the markings are in place, all of the letters line up, and absolutely nothing is missing. Even something relatively minor like a small missing gold band around the neck of the bottle is a telltale indicator that the bottle is fake. The key here is to make sure you are up-to-date on what the bottle you’re going to buy looks like. A vintage fragrance like No.5 has had numerous updates to its look and packaging over the years, but if there’s a bottle marketed as recent release that doesn’t match any of the other recent releases on the market then be very suspicious.
There’s numerous other topics to be discussed when it comes to knowing your branding. I’d like to discuss some of the nuisances of each fragrance house and some of the (often confusing) bottle redesigns that have happened to some of our favorite fragrances over the years. But for now, keep the above four tips in mind when you’re new to fragrances and want to make sure you’re getting the real stuff.