• Writing a Fragrance Brief

    The aim of a brief is to relay your fragrance vision to a perfumer, giving them the right amount of direction and information to enable them to create the scent that you have imagined. Fragrance briefs in the industry can vary significantly in shape and form – some brands and designers have been known to offer as little guidance in the brief as “the fragrance needs to be Red” or even “I want my fragrance to smell like autumn”. The problem with these types of briefs is they offer no detail or real direction for the perfumer to work with and forces them to guess what it is you are after. On the other side of the scale, some companies submit extremely detailed briefs complete with fully formed marketing campaigns, trend research, a list of notes and materials to use, focus group statistics, customer profiling, packaging etc. Whilst these briefs offer very clear instructions, they also limit the perfumer’s creativity and restrict their own artistic input, which is crucial to the design of a good fragrance. It is therefore important to find a happy middle ground where the most important aspects of your fragrance are communicated very clearly whilst leaving enough room for the perfumer’s artistic interpretation.

    Because we all use such different vocabulary to describe scents, especially imagined ones, it can be very hard to communicate a fragrance idea effectively. To help you write a winning brief and include the ideal level of detail, we have suggested some points to consider:


    • Start by writing a short description of how your fragrance should smell. This scent could be something completely new that you have conjured up in your mind, a favourite combination of fragrances you like to mix together, a new twist on an existing scent or a beloved long-lost fragrance that is no longer available.
    • Do any key notes or materials stand out in your fragrance? Does it belong to a particular olfactive family? (Don’t worry if you’re not sure about this. Most industry executives don’t know their chypres from their fougeres, or the florientals from the powdery aldehydics, you can still communicate your idea in lots of other ways)
    • Was your fragrance inspired by anything particular? Was the idea born at a special moment, a place, a story, a song…? Does the fragrance symbolise anything special for you?
    • What flavours does your fragrance conjure up? Is it sweet, spicy or maybe sour? Would you say it is creamy, juicy or gooey?
    • What textures could you use to describe the fragrance? Perhaps it is velvety soft, silky smooth, cool metallic, rustic wood or wet and earthy.
    • What colours come to mind when you smell the fragrance?
    • What sounds or type of music would you compare it to?
    • Do you see your fragrance being worn by everyone or is it targeted specifically for men, women or certain age groups?
    • Benchmarks for comparison – does your fragrance have to measure up to existing products in aspects such as character, quality, materials, brand image etc.?
    • If you were to market this fragrance, what tone of voice would you use and what type of language? Would it be traditional, use French terminology, casual, trendy, serious, cheeky etc.?
    • If you were to create an ad for this fragrance, what imagery would you use?

    Although there is much to think about, you should always keep your brief focused and concise. You do not have to include all the points above, only the ones that are important to your fragrance. Overall, your brief should not be longer than an A4 page. Should you wish, you may submit supporting material to go with your brief (i.e. images, music, poems etc.)

    Everyone is eligible to submit a brief and should you feel particularly creative and inspired, you may submit as many briefs as you wish (each brief must only describe one fragrance). The final deadline for all submissions is 31st December 2009. Once all briefs have been submitted, we will review them and together with the team at CPL Aromas will choose three winning concepts to proceed with. The winning briefs will be announced in January and posted here for everyone to read. The authors of the winning briefs will be credited for their creativity and input, however, due to the ongoing collaborative nature of this project, they will not be eligible for royalties or financial rewards.


    Email your fragrance brief to... thefragrance@basenotes.net

    • Start by writing a short description of how your fragrance should smell. This scent could be something completely new that you have conjured up in your mind, a favourite combination of fragrances you like to mix together, a new twist on an existing scent or a beloved long-lost fragrance that is no longer available.
    • Do any key notes or materials stand out in your fragrance? Does it belong to a particular olfactive family? (Don’t worry if you’re not sure about this. Most industry executives don’t know their chypres from their fougeres, or the florientals from the powdery aldehydics, you can still communicate your idea in lots of other ways)
    • Was your fragrance inspired by anything particular? Was the idea born at a special moment, a place, a story, a song…? Does the fragrance symbolise anything special for you?
    • What flavours does your fragrance conjure up? Is it sweet, spicy or maybe sour? Would you say it is creamy, juicy or gooey?
    • What textures could you use to describe the fragrance? Perhaps it is velvety soft, silky smooth, cool metallic, rustic wood or wet and earthy.
    • What colours come to mind when you smell the fragrance?
    • What sounds or type of music would you compare it to?
    • Do you see your fragrance being worn by everyone or is it targeted specifically for men, women or certain age groups?
    • Benchmarks for comparison – does your fragrance have to measure up to existing products in aspects such as character, quality, materials, brand image etc.?
    • If you were to market this fragrance, what tone of voice would you use and what type of language? Would it be traditional, use French terminology, casual, trendy, serious, cheeky etc.?
    • If you were to create an ad for this fragrance, what imagery would you use?

    Although there is much to think about, you should always keep your brief focused and concise. You do not have to include all the points above, only the ones that are important to your fragrance. Overall, your brief should not be longer than an A4 page. Should you wish, you may submit supporting material to go with your brief (i.e. images, music, poems etc.)

    Everyone is eligible to submit a brief and should you feel particularly creative and inspired, you may submit as many briefs as you wish (each brief must only describe one fragrance). The final deadline for all submissions is 31st December 2009. Once all briefs have been submitted, we will review them and together with the team at CPL Aromas will choose three winning concepts to proceed with. The winning briefs will be announced in January and posted here for everyone to read. The authors of the winning briefs will be credited for their creativity and input, however, due to the ongoing collaborative nature of this project, they will not be eligible for royalties or financial rewards.

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