Beauty Entrepreneurs Discuss When Brand Makeovers Make Sense

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we asked 11 founders and executives: Why did you make the decision to rebrand and what were the key factors involved?

Andrea Pierce-Naymon Founder of OY-L

Sometimes what you don't want to hear is the best advice you'll ever get. I incorporated in February 2016, and my investor and I wanted to take OY-L national. I approached a company that built professional websites and, like a proud mamma, presented my baby. The guy looked at my products and advised me to spend the money on a rebrand first. I was shocked and even a little pissed because I thought everything was perfect. With a slightly bruised ego, I interviewed a number of ad agencies in Cleveland. I found one that got me. They designed a new label, brochure, reworked my messaging and created a new website. It cost a fortune, but was so worth it. I launched my new clean look in August 2016, and the reception was amazing. Looking back, I seriously owe it all to that one guy who, instead of taking my business and making a buck for himself, gave me the sage advice that's launched OY-L into the indie brand big leagues.   

Pille Lengi Founder of Tilk!

I went through a rebrand nine months after I entered the market. I changed everything, even the name. It sounds daunting, but it was the best decision for leveraging my brand in a very competitive beauty market. There were several reasons why I decided to rebrand. The brand wasn't really resonating with me. I went from luxurious wooden boxes to a more travel-friendly design, which saved considerable money. Part of this decision was because I realized I didn't speak the luxury language, making it challenging to market the products. Once I made the design more in line with my personality instead of what I thought it should be, it was much easier to sell, not to mention cheaper to produce. Speaking of language, the original name, Ehe Ilu, was too difficult for English-speaking countries, whereas Tilk, which means drop in Estonian, rolled off the tongue.  It took me two to three months to do the rebranding, but the effort was worth it.

Amanda McIntosh Founder of Take My Face Off

Early on, my products looked very different. I was researching the baby and beauty industries, and got a last-minute opportunity to exhibit in a huge baby products show. My neighbor quickly put together a company logo and a product logo as a favor. My impromptu booth was a big hit. I got a lot of comments like, “I don’t know what this is, but I love it.” Huge retailers wanted to sign on. However, we didn’t have enough rhyme or reason to our branding. I took a step back and thought about what people were responding to, and how I could improve. I knew I wanted to be a beauty company with a baby product, not a baby company with a beauty product. My brother works for Groupon Goods, and he gave me some great advice: make sure every one of your products is visibly related to your brand. I began redesigning the products so they would be easier to manufacture and more patentable. Trying to find ways to shape mitts that wouldn’t be ugly and lumpy, I came across the droplet shape. It emerged as the perfect logo, the perfect product shape, and the perfect symbol of our value proposition.

Jillian Wright Founder of Jillian Wright Skincare

When I launched my line in 2013, I was very proud of my packaging and website. The boxes were tree-free and contained plantable seeds, which meant people could literally bury them in the backyard. What I didn't factor was how my products looked on the shelves of a retailer. I'll never forget a meeting with Marcia Gaynor, the woman responsible for Look Boutique at Duane Reade. She said, "Go downstairs and look at all the brands on the shelves. Would your brand hold up to your competition?" The exercise humbled me because I realized my packaging didn't fully represent my brand and image. Ditto my website. Even though I was established, it was back to the drawing board. I hired a designer, and we came up with a whole new identity. While my new packaging is not tree-free, it is still sustainable. I also wanted it to be recognizable. I wanted people to see the purple and know from across the room that it is Jillian Wright Skincare. The rebrand has given new life to the shelf appeal of my product line and was a very wise decision. I also revamped the website and my social platforms to reflect the updated design because consistency is important.

Olivia Martinez Marketing Manager at Erbaviva

The timing of the rebrand was aligned with Erbaviva’s 20th Anniversary. Erbaviva had simple beginnings in the artistic Los Angeles community of Topanga Canyon well before the organic beauty movement took root. We are now a trusted global brand. We felt the brand needed a visual update in order to send this message more clearly. Through consumer research, it had also become apparent to us that the market was full of confusion regarding natural versus organic. This was an indicator that we needed to not only update our look, but to provide customers with the clarity that were asking for. We have added informational architecture and certification buttons such as Leaping Bunny, Vegan, USDA Organic and B Corp to the label. Our founder Robin Brown loves biodynamic gardening, sustainability and 19th century botanical remedies. He was also a cinematographer prior to founding Erbaviva, so he is very visually inclined. We knew the new look needed to be true to his aesthetic and full of natural, yet modern elements. And we knew it needed to complement our healthy, therapeutic, apothecary-like formulas. We engaged the design firm Air Paris in New York. The moment we saw the new design we knew it was everything we were looking for. The new look is fresh, modern, eco-conscious and functional.

Tingting Zhong CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Red Earth

I’m not a typical beauty entrepreneur. I spent almost 20 years in investment banking and private equity. I come from outside of the beauty industry, and I’m a consumer. I thought, “Why does all the beauty packaging look so similar?” It seems like there is a fixed formula. I don’t know who created it, but everyone seems to follow the same rule. As an outsider, I just wanted to break the rule. As a team, we discussed that we wanted to have a brand that is simple and effective, and also has some attitude. Every single product needs to be different in terms of design and relate to the ingredients in an interesting way. It shouldn’t be just, “Hey, I have lavender as an ingredient, let’s put lavender flower on the packaging.” If you look at our packaging, each of the boxes is completely different. We call the design Wabi-sabi. Everything is imperfect because there’s perfection in that. If everything is chaotic, you find order. If you look at our packaging, there are illustrations, pictures and handwriting.

Julia Teren Founder of Thesis Beauty

We were at a point where we want to really ramp up our presence in the press and in stores. We also want to look better on your vanity. There was two years when I wasn’t that present in the company and, during that time, the industry changed. Brands are more sophisticated and more polished now. Although people love our packaging, I feel like we’re investing in the future. It’s going to be more polished and more toned down to focus on the ingredients. It will be more simple, streamlined packaging. It will not just be skin deep rebranding. We will be certified organic next year. So, we want to make the packaging change preemptively.

Munemi Imai Co-Founder of MŪN

We slowly built a brand product by product over a few years. At the timing of the relaunch in November 2016, we finally had a collection that included our basic 1-2-3 face steps and body products, and wanted to reflect our products and what we are as a brand, which is simple, but effective. We changed the logo and design to be easy to read and more modern. We combined that with heritage elements using a blue you see in Morocco. We were especially inspired by the blue in Majorelle Garden, and we asked our designer to think about illustration that is Japanese inspired. The results are perfect blend of both worlds. The brand really stands out more in the retail environments. Website changes also happened with a new logo, design, writing and the type of language used. We still consistently change and tweak for improvements for an easier shopping experience for the customers.

Emily Cunningham Co-Founder of True Moringa

We're constantly taking in feedback from our customers and stockists to learn how we can improve our product offerings. We decided to give our oils an elegant makeover this season, switching from clear glass to ultraviolet glass to better protect natural ingredients inside. We aim to show our customers that you don't need to sacrifice performance, pretty packaging or half your paycheck to make the switch to natural and ethically sourced hair and skincare.

Meryl Marshall President and Co-Founder of Hynt Beauty

We decided to rebrand about two years ago. We were a different company called Christopher Drummond Beauty, and one of the owners left to do his own thing. My husband and I really analyzed the business, and we felt we had a more than a viable business. We knew that with some improvements in the packaging – a beautiful logo and design – that we could really, really take the business to the next level. To come up with the new name, we did a lot of brainstorming, and we became Hynt Beauty. In terms of the packaging, I wanted something that was very fresh looking and that connoted luxury. We incorporated blush pink and the traditional black. We didn’t go gold or silver, we went copper with our trim. There is a famous macaroon company, and I feel in love with their design, but I felt it was very dated looking. That was my inspiration for the beautiful colors and the simplicity of it all. Every woman wants and deserves luxury. Just because it’s green doesn’t mean we have to have white or wood packaging.

Sami Jo Jensen Founder of Florapothecarie

My previous brand was called Poor & Pretty, which, as you can imagine, you can only go so far with. I was trying to create 100% natural vegan products using organic and fair trade ingredients, and really pricing myself out of profit with a name like Poor & Pretty. I was getting more knowledgeable about business and thinking I needed to raise my prices a bit to make a living. I had been sitting on the name Florapothecarie for about a year before I decided to really rebrand. At the same time, I was going through a really difficult breakup with a man that I had dated for seven years. He was very negative about my business. He didn’t think I would get anywhere. As part of that breakup, I rebranded myself and my business at the same time. I’m just one of those people where things all happen at once. The price range now is still not bad. My least expensive product is $14. That’s my deodorant, which is my bestselling product, and my most expensive is my $40 facial serum. Before, my least expensive was $10, and my most expensive was $20. The brand looks pretty different. I didn’t have any color in my branding before. It was all black, and that’s not who I am. I have pink hair, and I’m a very colorful person. I was trying to go for an old-timey apothecary theme back then. Now, I want a little bit of that, but make it more fun and flowery.

If you have a question you’d like Beauty Independent to ask beauty entrepreneurs, please send it to [email protected].