We had an idea of the first fragrance that we wanted to invoke: First Light – sunrise on the wild herbs of our mountainside (not “ours” ours, you understand).
Jonathan’s Blog with Cass’s comments in lady-like pink and Jonathan’s rebuttals in manly blue
And immediately other fragrances started to come to mind: the scents of individual local flowers and fruits; the aromas of the village café; sangria; incense wafting out of the church… In fact we started to realise that our new home was an olfactory cornucopia. Cornucopia is it? Steady there, boy! Pop that sucker on a triple word score and it’s, like, a million points, I’ll have you know.
So… With an array of possible fragrances emerging, the idea of a kind of ‘brand’ also started to suggest itself. Although all the fragrances were very different, they all had some things in common. The first and most obvious thing was US; these were the fragrances of our new life in Spain. We weren’t having to invent any of this, it was real.
But there was something else as well. We realised what a strong element of nostalgia the fragrances held for us. These were smells from our childhoods and ‘courtship’ actually, if we’re sharing er, we weren’t. Not necessarily, or specifically, the fragrances of Spain, but definitely of the Mediterranean, of our first family holidays abroad. Descriptive words came to mind: Memories, Dreams, Yearning, Longing, Evocative, Romantic, Retro… And that, maybe, is how brands are born. Ta Da! We even came up with a brand name almost first time: La Montaña (Spanish for ‘Mountain’). I say ‘almost’ first time – our village is actually called Barx, and we did toy with this – tickled by the idea that it has doggy connotations (although in the local dialect it’s actually pronounced Barch).
Now, unlike Cass, I do (fatally) fancy myself in the design milieu, so I started researching potential images on the old interwebs the interchangeable word both of our mothers use to describe the internet, remote controls, mobile phones, facebook, text messages, etc. Initially I was very much drawn to the street signs in our local city of Valencia; art deco white lettering reversed out of glossy enamelled indigo. We’d seen this type of street sign in Paris, too.
Then I got side-tracked into vintage flamenco posters; lots of reds and oranges, and moodily tilted sombreros, and giant, flouncy flamenco dresses very much as we dress at home.
Which somehow led me towards those wonderful posters advertising the golden age of ocean liners: the Normandie, and L’Atlantique, etc.
All in all, I was having a lovely time, but going round in circles. It was clear that we needed a professional. But where to start?
At the time I was tutoring on the Screenwriting MA at London’s University of the Arts, one of whose colleges is the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, and it occurred to me that maybe there was a facility for promoting their design graduates and finding work for them. Sure enough, for a small fee, CSM’s ‘Innovation Centre’ (eh?!) circulated the brief that we sent them. Not for the first time, I was amazed by just how crap most people are – of the dozen or so responses we received, most were half-arsed, or unintelligible, or idiotic. Seriously, people… design GRADUATES. Frightening!
But then Zed Gregory got in touch, and the world was back on its axis. Zed was, and is, brilliant. Zed gently put my design aspirations in their place (“I think the white on blue thing may make your candles look less like Valencian street signs, and more like jars of Nivea”) not that there’s anything wrong with the Nivea logo, Mr Corporate Lawyer, Sir and at the same time Zed really ‘got’ the brand. Before long Zed came up with the idea of borrowing the style, feel, fonts, colours, composition, and probably other things, of travel posters from the 20’s and 30’s.
Aside: I showed Zed’s proposal, complete with examples of 20’s and 30’s travel posters, to my Dad, who is a brilliant businessman, but who possibly wasn’t quite listening, and he looked horrified. I asked him what on earth was wrong and he said: “You can’t be thinking of calling a candle ‘Visit Palestine’”. Deep breaths.
Zed designs the look of our labels, tailoring each one individually to the fragrance – always with our mountain in the background, then hands them onto an illustrator (Isabel Eeles) to finish and tidy them. We love Zed, and we love the designs. We hope you do, too. But if you don’t, well… you’re wrong. I think it’s best to let the nice people decide for themselves… Don’t be fooled, folks – she’s just pretending to be fair and reasonable.