In case you didn’t know, our debut fine fragrance is called DŪMBO. We named it after the neighbourhood in Brooklyn where the idea of THE 5TH first came to life for us, DUMBO. It’s an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
As we both lived in New York, it was a place we spent a lot of time. Whether it be visiting friends or going to a favourite restaurant, DUMBO was a name we heard and spoke often.
Because of this, and because we were sitting in a hotel bar in DUMBO when we built the concept of THE 5TH, DUMBO felt like the perfect fit for the name of our first fragrance. We added an accent over the Ū as it represents the bridge over the river we were sitting beside at the time.
We told friends about DŪMBO and they loved the idea. We were confident it was the perfect name for our first scent. It was catchy, it had meaning to us and there were no other fragrances around with the same name - as far as we were aware.
We went ahead and started designing our packaging with DŪMBO in mind and we didn’t think much more about it...
...then comes the part we should have thought about, but didn’t. Market research 101 and we messed it up badly.
We were living in New York but our company was to launch in the UK. In New York, DUMBO is a neighbourhood, known for being trendy and a creative hub for artists and performers alike. In the UK, DUMBO is just a cartoon elephant. In hindsight, how we didn’t anticipate these preconceptions is a mystery - but we didn’t.
So, as we began to launch in the UK we were increasingly faced with comments along the lines of "DUMBO? Like the elephant?" - we realised we had a bit of a task on our hands. We too love all things Disney, but the brand we were building was not one we wanted people to resonate with a children’s cartoon. We wanted to encapsulate the vibrant, diverse, innovative and design-centric neighbourhood that represents what we stand for as a brand.
Not to mention the fact we did not want to be sued by Disney - cue manyyyyy sleepless nights.
First things first, we amended our packaging and added a very subtle but noticeable cue as to the origin of the scent's name. Secondly, with our almost non-existent marketing budget we focused on emphasising the history and meaning behind our chosen scent name and pushed the narrative away from flying elephants.
As of today, we have no regrets. We love the name DŪMBO and what it represents for us, and we wholeheartedly stand by it. More importantly, we also learnt a valuable lesson to be much better when it comes to market research: don’t assume anything - focus on the country and culture you’re launching in, not living in!
If we knew then what we know now, we would still have picked DŪMBO. We are a niche fragrance house that never set out to fit in, please the masses, or play it safe. We would however, have better prepared ourselves to tackle the misconceptions that go hand-in-hand when naming a product after a popular children's character.
To those of you who have never heard of, or visited, DUMBO in Brooklyn; we recommend you to add it to your bucket list if you find yourself nearby. It arguably has better pizza than Manhattan too!
See you on THE 5TH,
H & G