Pow­ered by synes­the­sia, a US com­pany has taken SCENT and spun it into a SUBLIMINAL mar­ket­ing STRAT­EGY.


how twin sis­ters used synes­the­sia to cre­ate the world’s first ol­fac­tory brand­ing com­pany

Our sense of smell is our most un­der­es­ti­mated sense,” says Dawn Goldworm, one half of the world’s first ol­fac­tory brand­ing busi­ness, 12.29. “Be­fore we’re born, our sense of smell is fully de­vel­oped. There­fore, af­ter we’re born, as our other senses de­velop along­side our abil­ity to process lan­guage, we be­gin to talk about what we see, hear, taste and touch. But be­cause we’ve been un­con­sciously smelling for the en­tire time, we don’t speak about what we smell, un­less it’s a bad smell and it in­di­cates dan­ger or fear. Be­cause of this, we fail to cre­ate a vo­cab­u­lary for smell.”

But de­spite this lack of vo­cab­u­lary, Dawn and her iden­ti­cal twin sis­ter, Sa­man­tha Goldworm, have built a multi-mil­lion dol­lar busi­ness by cre­at­ing a vo­cab­u­lary for smell, and de­vel­op­ing cus­tom-made scents to en­hance the brands of global busi­nesses such as Mercedes-Benz, Ro­darte and Porsche.

Both twins have the neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tion synes­the­sia which, in their case, means they don’t sim­ply smell an odour or read a word or num­ber, they ‘see’ them as colours and tex­tures. But it’s Dawn who’s the ‘scent spe­cial­ist’ and who stud­ied to be a per­fumer, or ‘nose’. She pre­vi­ously worked for Avon and Coty in New York and Paris, de­vel­op­ing and de­sign­ing fra­grances. Sa­man­tha, mean­while, is the busi­ness brains of New York-based 12.29 – named af­ter De­cem­ber 29, which is their birth date, their brother’s birth­day and their par­ent’s an­niver­sary. She brings a back­ground in con­sumer in­sights and mar­ket­ing for ma­jor cor­po­ra­tions in­clud­ing Amer­i­can Ex­press, Unilever and Lancôme to the ta­ble.

“Dawn had this idea for ol­fac­tive brand­ing and tak­ing fra­grance be­yond skin ap­pli­ca­tion,” says Sa­man­tha of the de­ci­sion to set out on their own. “She has this love af­fair with scents and re­ally wanted to ex­plore that in dif­fer­ent ways, so brands could utilise the power and emo­tion of scents and cre­ate this con­nec­tion far be­yond any­thing that you can see or touch or hear. To­gether we had this idea that a brand could be used to cre­ate a loy­alty with con­sumers [by] us­ing a unique, spe­cific cus­tom scent.”

The idea is that a cus­tomer could, over time, walk into a space or touch some sort of mar­ket­ing col­lat­eral that they’d im­me­di­ately as­so­ciate with a brand.

“Scent can build a stronger con­nec­tion than any­thing else a brand utilises,” says Sa­man­tha, who is a nose-in-train­ing.

Our brain’s abil­ity to re­mem­ber smells is one of the largest and most acute parts of our mem­ory, and the ar­eas of our brain that process emo­tions and smells are closely in­ter­con­nected.

“The odour and emo­tion are for­ever linked to­gether in our ol­fac­tive mem­ory so that every time we smell a par­tic­u­lar scent, we feel the same way,” ex­plains Dawn, who also has synes­the­sia with things she hears and touches. She didn’t realise she and her sis­ter were synes­thetes un­til she was at per­fumery school (it’s hard to tell some­thing is dif­fer­ent if your twin has it, too).

Open­ing 12.29 in 2009, the Goldworm twins’ first job was for a friend, Gabriele Moltedo, a son of the Bot­tega Veneta fam­ily. In 2004, three years af­ter the fam­ily had sold Bot­tega to Gucci, Gabriele be­gan his own ex­clu­sive ac­ces­sories line, Corto Moltedo, and later opened his first shop, in Paris’ Palais Royal.

“Dawn spoke to Gabriele and said, ‘I have this crazy idea that we should scent your shop. It will cre­ate loy­alty and a cer­tain dy­namic in your store.’ And she ex­plained that the Ritz was scented and that Colette had just in­tro­duced can­dles in their stores,” says Sa­man­tha. >

Cus­tomer response was im­me­di­ate – many com­mented on the won­der­ful scent while many more were ask­ing if they could buy can­dles to take the scent home. Not long af­ter, 12.29 was tasked with scent­ing Amer­i­can lux­ury la­bel Ro­darte’s 2009 show.

“It re­ally all started with peo­ple who un­der­stood, and wanted to ex­plore, the idea of scent. So we scented more fash­ion shows and arts events, trac­tion grew and we then moved into hos­pi­tal­ity, re­tail and, more re­cently, we started scent­ing banks.”

The scent cre­ation process at 12.29 be­gins with in-depth client brand­ing dis­cus­sions, which gen­er­ally take about two hours, to dis­sect all ex­ist­ing brand ref­er­ences in­clud­ing colour, tex­ture, sound, tar­get mar­ket and ty­pog­ra­phy, to un­der­stand the brand from a ‘mul­ti­sen­so­rial per­spec­tive’. The sis­ters also de­ter­mine what the client wants to achieve with their scent. At the end of the ses­sion, Dawn gen­er­ally knows what a brand “smells like”.

“For Pra­bal Gu­rung’s Spring-Sum­mer 2014 run­way show, his col­lec­tion was de­signed around a very fem­i­nine pas­tel pal­ette of soft pinks, vi­o­lets and greens with the con­trast­ing struc­ture of a mas­cu­line har­ness,” says Dawn. “So the scent was di­ag­nosed around a ‘petally’ pink rose with a cof­fee truf­fle note to add the mas­cu­line bite.”

In a phys­i­cal space, scented oils are atom­ised into a gas and dis­trib­uted via air con­di­tion­ers or, in some fash­ion shows, via por­ta­ble dif­fusers.

In 2012, Dawn worked with Stu­dio Too­good and Pen­folds in Aus­tralia to cre­ate scents based on dif­fer­ent wine va­ri­etals for an in­stal­la­tion in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne called The Blocks. Based on five dif­fer­ent types of wines, she cre­ated ac­cords – sim­ple per­fume for­mu­las – that smelled of the taste of each wine.

“The ac­cords were then sent to the Pen­folds som­me­liers to cat­e­gorise. If we did our job well, the som­me­liers would match the cor­rect ac­cord with the cor­rect va­ri­etal – which thank­fully they did!” re­calls Dawn.

One of 12.29’s big­gest projects is the One Thou­sand Mu­seum, a multi-mil­lion dol­lar apart­ment tower by Zaha Ha­did Ar­chi­tects. The Gold­worms cre­ated cus­tom scents for the en­trance foyer, spa, fit­ness area and aquatic cen­tre.

“They want the res­i­dents of the build­ing to feel they’re in Mi­ami. Nor­mally you can smell the beach but this build­ing is on the bay so it was im­por­tant that sea air was part of the scent. The scent we cre­ated smells wet and salty but has a juicy cit­rus and some wood in it, too,” says Sa­man­tha.

They’ve since cre­ated cus­tom scents for in­di­vid­u­als like Kate Moss and Lady Gaga, as well as premier brands in­clud­ing Cadil­lac, Art Basel, Open­ing Cer­e­mony, Ja­son Wu and even Valentino. (Valentino’s scent is all about red; rose and mint are on top to give a fresh­ness

It re­ally all STARTED with peo­ple who UN­DER­STOOD, and wanted to EX­PLORE, the idea of SCENT.

and full­ness, while the light­ness of cou­ture is con­veyed with light, petally flow­ers pe­ony and mag­no­lia. The Rome el­e­ment comes to­gether from a base of creamy bal­samic. Dawn cre­ated four scents for the Valentino team but they picked this one within min­utes.)

Of their 12.29 suc­cess, the Gold­worms are quick to praise word-of-mouth and paid PR.

“The first dime we had went to PR, and sto­ries have hap­pened or­gan­i­cally be­cause peo­ple thought the idea was in­ter­est­ing: Dawn and I are iden­ti­cal twins and we both have this ‘nose’,” states Sa­man­tha. “But now we have a team that help us cu­rate our place­ment and sto­ries in pub­li­ca­tions. Cold call­ing was never go­ing to lead us any­where in this busi­ness.”

It takes Dawn two to four months to cre­ate a cus­tom scent, and de­mand now sees the busi­ness cre­at­ing scented prod­ucts as part of a client’s brand, too – from can­dles and books to note cards and drawer lin­ers, with clients across Asia, the US and Europe.

“But it’s still a rel­a­tively new idea,” says Sa­man­tha. “When peo­ple are build­ing a brand, it’s not some­thing they nec­es­sar­ily think of straight away. But, just as when mu­sic was first in­tro­duced into a space, I think scent will be the next big thing that peo­ple think of.”

Dawn and I are IDEN­TI­CAL TWINS and we BOTH have this ‘NOSE’.

De­sign Mi­ami Art Basel

Corto Moltedo Bou­tique, Mi­lan

The Knicker­bocker Ho­tel, NYC

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.