How To Create A Signature Scent That Aligns With Your Brand Story

In today’s crowded marketplace of companies and products, branding is more relevant that ever before. The emergence of the internet has raised customer expectations and brands are adapting. Successful companies seek to evaluate new and innovative strategies that differentiate and elevate their brand experience. 


Leveraging the influential power of scent can deliver positive associations with audiences. Karl Winters, a luxury home fragrance brand that specializes in turnkey private label services,  discusses how to create a signature scent that aligns with your brand story.

Table Of Content

Branding & Perception

With the proliferation of brands, it’s not enough to rely on traditional media for brand recognition. The best & most versatile companies apply brand strategies that differentiate themselves, making them stand out. Brand positioning answers questions such as “what makes our brand special” and “how do we want customers to feel”. Brand perception and the image it wants to project  will ultimately determine how engaged audiences are.


By defining how a brand should be perceived, one can proceed with developing a multi-sensorial brand experience. Connecting an audience through the sense of sight, sound and scent brings a brand experience to life.

A- Color branding

Brands like Netflix and Amazon adopt color psychology to create powerful associations in the minds of customers. Colors such as red, orange, blue and yellow trigger feelings that inspire us. While red represents qualities such as strength, passion and excitement, blue represents trust, serenity, and logic. Selecting a color that is meaningful will enhance the overall personality of a brand.

B- Sonic branding

Music evokes emotions in all of us. Over 90% of consumers recall a brand that uses music to represent their brand identity. A significant amount of research is done on brand positioning to get to a sound that improves performance. The sonic identity is then be applied to touch points throughout the customer journey. Among all sonic brands, Netflix is the gold standard with its infamous “ta-dum” sound.

C- Scent branding

Our sense of smell is the most powerful sense because of its connection to emotions. Due to its influential nature, signature scents are used to project a certain image in the minds of people.  For example, Lululemon is a luxury brand that caters to women who value active, healthy lifestyles. Based on this, a citrus-rich and energizing fragrance such as orange blossom and bergamot can be used to project these qualities.

Hotel Costes Sensory World Of Fragrance, Music And Design

Hotel Costes is a Parisian luxury hotel that has invested in rich sensorial experiences using color, sonic, and scent branding. The perfumer designed a signature scent using woody oriental notes with hints of floral facets. The cult-like following of the scent allowed for the development by a collection of private label candles, room sprays, perfumes, and body lotions. Demand for their branded candle has been exceptionally high as customers from around the world now purchase the collections from

What Is A Signature Scent

A signature scent is a fragrance oil that is representative of a brand’s identity.  It’s designed by a perfumer that is experienced at communicating a brand’s objectives using fragrance. It can be made up of 10-70 fragrance oils that when mixed, provides a unique olfactory experience.

A- Sense of smell

Brands leverage the power of our sense of smell which evokes emotions in the minds of customers. Whether it’s a jewelry, fashion, or interior design brand, a signature scent elicits positive brand associations. 

B- Iconic scents tell your brand story

A perfumer is trusted with the selection of fragrance oils that are representative of a brand story. How the individual fragrances are combined is the true creativity and finesse of a perfumer. An iconic scent is therefore a result of its quality ingredients and how these work in harmony to deliver an immersive olfactive experience.

C- Signature scent for a private label brand

Once a signature scent is developed, it can be applied to touchpoints across the customer journey.  A private label brand may diffuse the scent into physical spaces using a scent machine, while others prefer scented products such as private label candles, reed diffusers, or body lotions. An example of a signature scent is found at The Ritz-Carlton Macao, which diffuses black orchid across their property. Guests are welcomed with the floral-woody aromas of black orchid, and many have purchased luxury candles as a memorable gift for their homes.

How To Create A Signature Scent

1- Customer brief as a source of inspiration

A brand positioning statement identifies how a brand wants to be perceived in the minds of customers. In support of this, a customer brief is a document that gathers relevant elements such as images, colors, visuals, typography, etc. Scent perception is subjective, and the success of the project hinges on the relevancy of the customer brief. From that point on, the perfumer uses the brief as a source of inspiration during fragrance creation. 

For example, the Lululemon logo is circular with red and white colors, and a symmetrical sign represents a woman’s hair and face outline. These elements will be included in the customer brief which the perfumer uses as she imagines fragrance design scenarios.

2- Perfumer

A perfumer is a fragrance specialist that is trained in the technical and artistic aspects of fragrance creation. They have a deep technical knowledge of fragrance chemical structures as well as raw material classification.


Choosing from over 4,000 synthetic and natural raw materials, perfumers skillfully craft the structure of a signature fragrance. It’s the combination of creativity and technical expertise that differentiates one perfumer from another. Like an artist with a paint brush, a perfumer uses her imagination to intuitively construct new fragrance notes, commonly known as an accords.  It’s this harmonious composition of accords that give a signature fragrance its aromatic beauty.

3- Olfactory pyramid

A new fragrance is constructed based on the principles of an olfactory pyramid. Its visualized as a pyramid where the top notes are on the top, the heart notes in the middle, and the base notes are on the bottom. 

Top notes

The top notes of a fragrance are the most volatile. It’s for this reason that they provide the first impression and set the stage for the heart notes. They are comprised primarily of citrus notes (lemon, bergamot, and orange) and light floral notes.

Heart notes

Sometimes referred to as the mid notes, these form the “heart of the fragrance.” They are more complex, and are designed to connect the fresh top notes with the warm base notes. This group includes floral notes like jasmine and orange blossom, as well as spicey and fruity notes.

Base notes

These are located on the bottom of the pyramid because they are the least volatile. These are comprised mainly of deep and warm ingredients that give off woody notes (patchouli, amber, sandalwood, and cedarwood) and musky notes (vanilla).

Fragrance Creation

Fragrance creation is a long and delicate process. Long because the perfumer starts with extensive research as ideas are tested in different combinations. This is also a delicate phase as many trials are discarded, of which only a few survive. Those that survive have the most potential, but these also can be tweaked as new ideas change and evolve.

The art of blending raw materials

The artistic direction of a signature scent is dependent on the raw materials and how they are mixed.  The resulting mixture acquires a new smell and is termed an accord. A perfumer goes through many trials until a desirable balance is achieved. This new blend of materials, or accords, serves as the basis of the new fragrance creation.

The perfumer continually refers to the customer brief for creative direction – is the fragrance floral, or woody, or a combination of both? How many accords are to be featured within the fragrance? 

The sourcing of quality raw materials from reliable manufacturers is also an important aspect to fragrance creation. Below are examples of common fragrance oils from the four families:

Citrus family – Bergamot

Bergamot is a citrus fruit harvested primarily in Italy. The city of Calabria in the South of Italy is known for the quality and consistency of its bergamot oils, which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Bergamot is a highly fragrant fruit – its aroma is described as crisp, sweet, with notes of acidity. A popular top note, its commonly paired with scents such as sandalwood, jasmine and vetiver.

Floral family – Rose

Often associated with floral feminine fragrances, rose is available in either natural or synthetic form. The legendary Chanel No. 5 is a beautiful floral perfume that is made with incredible rose oils from the Grasse region In France.

Natural rose oils are harvested from countries such as Morocco, Turkey, and Bulgaria. Rose oil can get very expensive, as 4 tons of roses are required to extract 1kg of rose oil. The aroma of rose varies from one rose species to another, but its often described as warm, slightly spicy, rich with a honey-like odor.

A common floral heart note, its classically paired with jasmine, and more recently with oud, patchouli, and sandalwood.

Woody family – Patchouli

A famous ingredient in fragrance creation, patchouli is a fragrance oil that is harvested from plants found in the tropical climates of Indonesia & Malaysia. Patchouli oil is extracted from the leaves of a plant, which is often used in aromatherapy for the treatment of skin conditions and relieving stress.

The aroma of patchouli is described as soft, earthy, woody, and somewhat mysterious. It’s considered a base note and is often paired with amber, vanilla and rose.

Oriental family – Vanilla

Another iconic raw material, vanilla is a flower of the orchid family, and it requires man to produce the fruit. A delicate flower, it must be pollinated by hand which ultimately gives rise to a long brown pod. After the beans are harvested,  it can take several months to dry and cure before the oils can be extracted.


The aroma of natural vanilla is described as tobacco, tonka-like, with slight woodiness. As a base note, its paired with oud, amber, lavender and rose.

An Important Tip When Developing A Signature Scent For A Private Label Candle

There are several steps involved in the development of a signature scent for a private label candle. As a luxury private label candle manufacturer, an important consideration is the price of the fragrance oil that varies from one supplier to another. This is a significant factor as it  determines the scent throw of a candle and the olfactive experience.


Price of fragrance oils varies because of the quality of raw materials and concentration of fragrance oil used. Some ingredients such as lavender are easier to grow and extract than jasmine, which is a more delicate and expensive to oil. Also, as discussed on this blog post, fragrances with higher concentration of essential oils are generally more expensive than synthetic fragrances.


One of the main tenets of a luxury private label candle is the perfumer’s ability to compose a sophisticated signature scent with high quality fragrance oils. One that gives off an aroma that is unique and memorable to the brand.