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2011 Beauty Packaging Identity Trends

By: Aniko Hill
Posted: April 7, 2011, from the April 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

A prime example of the trend for geometric/desconstructed shapes, the bottle for Bang by Marc Jacobs actually looks like a smashed piece of industrial metal, which is a clever reference to the product name.

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Japanese culture has been incredibly trendy in America for quite some time, and many lifestyle and beauty brands have been popping up that utilize the unique and distinct visual style of Japan as their brand identity. These package designs are bold, fun and unapologetically cute. The identities are often driven by Anime-inspired cartoons; bright, unexpected colors; and high-contrast graphics.

Harajuku Lovers, the clothing line founded by rocker and fashion icon Gwen Stefani, is an example of a U.S. brand celebrating everything about Japanese culture. The fragrance line identity utilizes cute Anime-inspired representations of girls as the primary packaging form; the secondary packaging graphics combine puffy letterforms, a bright color palette and high-contrast patterns for a fun identity with lots of personality. Tokidoki is another example of a U.S. brand with a heavy Japanese aesthetic, with a more collage like approach to the identity that is a little more edgy and dark in tone.

The aforementioned brands are built around Japanese culture and aesthetic, but in other instances, a specialty product or limited edition package takes on a Japanese-inspired identity for a novelty feel. For example, Tarina Tarantino’s Tokyo Hardcore Fashion collection utilizes a bright lime-yellow primary color, stylized illustration of a girl and Japanese characters as part of the packaging identity.

Trend #3: Gothic

Rock ‘n’ roll has been a trend going on in the beauty industry for several years, and lately the identities have been skewing more dark and gothic in appearance and tone. The heavy use of black, gothic typefaces and edgy punk rock-inspired embellishments are all characteristics of identities in this trend. The gothic packaging identity is generally utilized when a product or brand is intentionally portrayed as edgier or darker than its competitors.

Most notably, tattoo artist from hit reality show LA Ink Kat Von D’s partnership with Sephora has made the darker, edgier aesthetic in the beauty industry more widespread. For example, the Adora fragrance has a black bottle, red gothic letterforms, and an ornate silver embellishment around the neck for an overall dark, bold and mysterious feel. In other examples, the gothic aesthetic is part of a sub brand or product. The fragrance Love Rocks from Victoria’s Secret has a bold red bottle with black gothic lettering, scalloped edges and a traditional pump to communicate an edgy rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic.