Disruption is the word of the moment, with many brands creating covetable products that turn the status quo of design on its head to generate a buzz of excitement.
But disruption isn’t the only route to success. Many beauty brands have achieved great results by choosing to be category followers – taking their inspiration from trends and existing brands.
Following might not generate the excitement of disruption but it’s a perfectly valid choice. So how do you decide if you’re going to lead or follow? And how do you navigate these divergent paths?
Category Followers – Embracing A Trend
When consumers shop, they are confronted with an army of competing brands. Packaging that follows established and understood hierarchy, as well as messaging, allows them to quickly understand key product information and benefits. It simplifies choice.
Many want the best formulations, the latest trends and the highest quality ingredients, but we won’t all buy the most premium product. The lower-cost category followers provide an attractive alternative, suggesting that the pot or tube with a similar look and feel to the luxury product will provide the same transformative benefits.
Another reason to walk the well-trodden path of a category follower is that it is paved with trust. Consumers are drawn towards the familiar. Established packaging design has visual cues and language that consumers know and will buy into more readily then something completely new.
But what are the risks? One pitfall is a lack of standout, both on the shelf and in consumers’ minds. Brands also need to ensure they have an obvious unique selling point. Without this, they will lack credibility and justifying the purchase, particularly at a premium price point, will be a struggle.
Of course, some brands choose to upset the applecart and turn the sector on its head by being a disruptor. This route is also littered with risks but get it right and it can pay off.
Successful branding is emotive; it uses visual cues to create a connection with consumers. So, it’s difficult to be new and unique while using entrenched branding cues to invoke a feeling or convey a message.
Many disruptive new brands look to trends for contemporary inspiration, positioning themselves as forward thinking and edgy. But the problem with trends is that where some go, others will follow and eventually the trend becomes mainstream. The market inevitably reaches saturation point and the brand that led the pack is lost in a sea of uniformity.
A visually disruptive brand might cause hype, but longevity is only achieved through a unique and consistent brand story and core ethos. If your challenger brand is successful, others will try to reproduce your winning formula. The challenge then becomes maintaining the disruptor’s position as the market leader.
Whichever route you decide to take, investing in the brand is critical. If you follow category conventions, brand values and equity are vital to make an impression and attract consumers.
And if you decide to break convention and disrupt, building a compelling beauty brand is vital if you want consumers to believe in you and follow you. Brand equity will become even more important as other brands follow your lead.
About The Expert:
Tom Hearn is the business director at Nude Brand Creation, a branding and design consultancy. a luxury branding and packaging design agency, which has worked across the beauty sector on brands such as Enhance. Based in Old Street, London, it was born in 2003 out of a desire to do things differently. Nude is independent and proud of it. The partners who run the business are very hands-on, you get what you see - delivering what’s right, creating great work. Nude digs deep into the heart of a brand, to lay bare its strengths and uncover its true potential.