Indie beauty fever has grabbed the customer’s attention, taken over social media and influenced the buying strategies of beauty specialty retailers. At an industry event this past summer, leaders of many of the biggest global beauty corporations were honest about what they were seeing—that small, nimble brands offer valuable lessons for Big Beauty.
At Base Beauty Creative Agency (BBCA), we work with brands big and small. Half of our clients are large, global corporations and half are indie brands. This gives us a really unique (and I think pretty cool) perspective on what brands of all sizes are thinking about and what strategies they choose to act on.
For a marketing or packaging executive at a Strategic, it will be challenging to adopt an indie approach to packaging development and design without the support of the brand’s senior leadership. So, I offer the following advice to the C-Suite, with the hopes that you embrace these ideas and give your teams the room to be as creative, nimble and engaging as the indies.
Lessons from the Indies – Served up to the Biggies
1) Packaging Design Is Product Development
With many indie brands, the founder is the product development, marketing and sourcing departments all rolled into one person. That means she is thinking about the packaging from the moment she has conceived of the product, before the goop has been developed. Large organizations can achieve innovation by inviting design into the process way upstream. This is FREE and easy to do! Just invite the design team and sourcing into an upstream meeting about the product, its benefits and key ingredients. Empower design and sourcing to dream about the product. Magic will happen.
2) Packaging Must Tell a Brand Story
We all know times have changed. Customers once met brands for the first time with decked-out counters at department stores and splashy print campaigns in magazines. Now many customers meet brands for the first time in subscription boxes. At the moment, the subscription box is opened, the only thing keeping your brand’s product from being tossed in the trash is compelling packaging that shows and tells your brand’s distinctive story. In that type of marketing isolation, how would your product fare?
3) Founder Brands Really Invest in Packaging
Our indie clients care about costs…but the savviest indies don’t let “nickel and diming” get in the way of telling their story through packaging. Clever entrepreneurial brands see the value in making a smart branding choice in their components, decorating and finishing, which far outweighs the one to three cent savings per piece if they skimped on the details. If you empower your sourcing team to be not just cost effective, but clever, strategic and creative, you may be able to achieve more with less. They should be empowered to take as many supplier meetings as possible, visiting manufacturing and decorating facilities, searching for innovation. Is your sourcing team empowered to have fun with packaging?
4) Think About Instagram
For our indie clients, we design for the shelf and of course we design for e-commerce. But we also design for Instagram. This means that built within our process is a step where we look at our design directions and consider which ones will translate the best when a consumer takes a photo of the product with her smartphone. Will the logo pop? Will the phone’s flash bleach out the deco? Will the design look distinctive and memorable in these moments? A professional photographer and a re-toucher can make any design look decent. But what happens when your design is in the hands of the customer and her Instagram stories?
For more on indie brands, see the online exclusive, Packaging’s Role in Launching an Indie Brand.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jodi Katz is the founder & creative director of Base Beauty, a full-service creative agency dedicated to the beauty industry. Email Katz here.
Katz was the first U.S. creative director of L’Occitane en Provence, and has worked with leading brands such as Clinique, Conair and L’Oreal Paris—among many others, large and small. In 2017, she launched the popular podcast series, Where Brains Meet Beauty on iTunes and GooglePlay. She is the 2017 recipient of the Enterprising Women of the Year Award.