Redefining the standard for (unisex) perfume.
The world of perfume has been hyper-gendered for centuries. But despite the industry slowly moving away from outdated thinking, saying that we’ve reached a point where scent is detached from gender is a stretch. Now we’re battling a new “evil”: unisex scents. Wishy-washy products that don’t quite scratch the itch. We set out to imagine a brand that fully embraces and celebrates individuality, rather than attempting to be “neutral” in order to cater to those who defy the binary. A perfume brand that focuses on creating expressive fragrances that can simply be enjoyed for what they are - and inhabit any body.
Aura is a conceptual perfume brand that’s born from the philosophy that it should be about what you like, not about what you’re supposed to like. Why think in categories of “feminine” and “masculine” or even “unisex” when the meaning and beauty of a scent goes so much deeper than that. The brand seeks to make their customers feel liberated and inspired. It steers away from the dull unisex scent and branding that brands often use for “neutral” perfumes and instead offers vivid scents and designs for those that want to express themselves freely, without any labels.
We're seeing an ever-increasing amount of products but the majority is born from a desire to profit, not from a place of understanding and wanting to make a real difference. The result is either a) a gimmicky product that is supposed to make the brand appear “woke” (cue “rainbow washing”) or b) an undecided in-the-middle-product that doesn’t excite anyone.
How can we make it apparent that Aura is not just another follow-the-trend-of-being-inclusive brand? Conveying the genuine commitment needed to be a priority. We knew Aura needed to have an authentic feel. It needed to become a brand with substance.
Throughout the branding process, we were guided by the idea of highlighting the emotional value of scents. This concept was integrated into all aspects of the brand, from the name, to the perfume compositions, to the visual identity, and the marketing.
As a term, ”aura” refers to the moods, emotions, and energy of a human. As a brand name, it encapsulates the mission to enrich a person’s emotional experiences: Not only do Aura’s perfumes transport people to cherished memories, but they also empower individuals to express their unique identities with confidence which makes going out into the world and creating new memories that little bit easier. It’s this desire of being a part of the stories that make people’s lives special that inspired the tagline "we create aromatic stories”. And what does this mean for the visual identity?
Aura's brand identity diverges from the conventional luxurious and seductive appearance commonly associated with high-end perfumes and also differs from the "fresh" blue watery image of many unisex fragrances. While the identity carries an undeniable element of sensuality, it does so in an understated and less superficial way. Since Aura's target audience isn't using perfume for external validation or to attract the opposite sex but rather for personal enjoyment and expression, using clichéd sex appeal to sell the brand wouldn't be effective. It would, in fact, achieve the opposite effect and deter the progressively minded target group from buying.
Instead of depicting conventional physical beauty standards such as men with visible abs and strong jawlines or women with long blonde hair and smokey eyes, the photographic approach centres on capturing the human form, natural elements, sensory experiences, and textiles with a delicate, almost ethereal but down-to-earth aesthetic. The colours used are a harmonious blend of soft and expressive tones.
The logo, which is a hand-drawn wordmark, is a nod to the fluidity and movement of liquid, and serves as a visual representation of the brand's mellow and soft qualities. This aesthetic is carried over to the typographic suite, where handwriting is incorporated as a subtle touch in the use of small notes. Handwritten notes also infuse an element of artistry which is fitting since Aura is heavily inspired by art, literature, and music. It’s these cultural touchstones that serve as tools for self-expression, and as a means of connection, for the brand's target audience.
The creation of Aura was a personal project that aimed to challenge the traditional hyper-gendered world of perfumes and the recent trend of wishy-washy unisex scents. Through a unique branding strategy that focuses on highlighting the emotional value of scents, and a visual identity that steers away from conventional luxury and unisex branding, Aura hopes to offer a truly authentic and distinctive alternative for those who seek to express themselves freely without labels. In the end, Aura is not just a perfume brand, but a movement that aims to break free from societal norms and celebrate the beauty of human individuality.