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Packaging is Critical to Brand Identity

By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: February 27, 2009, from the March 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

Luxury, specialty and mass beauty brands all know packaging’s power to project an identity and move product through the till.

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Cristina Samuels is vice president of sales and marketing at Mode Cosmetics, a mass brand available online and at select drugstore chains, with offices and manufacturing in Albany, New York. The brand is designed to incorporate fashion, nature and health in reaction to what she calls the all-or-nothing impression given by many natural products. “Packaging is one of the most important elements in brand identity because it tells the story and defines your brand,” says Samuels. “With our focus on fashion and nature, we wanted to distance our packaging from that of the typical, creating our own distinct simple and modern style that signifies accessible luxury while simultaneously being recyclable and non-wasteful.” Luxury is a position that often is realized in a brand’s packaging.

A Luxury Look

Nvey Eco recently introduced a certified organic lip plumper, lip exfoliator and lip treatment, expanding and enhancing its cosmetics range. Packaging for the latest products received the same attention as all its others, and that starts with being environmentally friendly, to carry through the brand philosophy. After that, it must function and perform at the level of traditional luxury cosmetic packaging. “Materials for our components and outer packaging must also be consumer-friendly—lightweight, easy to open and close, and attractive,” says Dirr. Nvey Eco uses materials supplied by companies that support sustainable forestry methods, source reduction, recyclability and other eco-conscious efforts.

Operating successfully as a luxury, certified organic color cosmetic brand means having a standard to uphold. Nvey Eco’s packaging has been completely reworked since its North American launch in mid-2006 because, says Dirr, packaging simply had to be consistent with the brand’s philosophy. Original outer packaging was a frosted PVC carton surrounded by a board sleeve that Dirr calls cumbersome and over-packaged. Now, the carton is made from recycled board materials approved by the sustainable forestry association. Non-solvent inks are also used.

“The print on our packaging is critically important to us, as it provides brand recognition,” says Dirr. “We have been creative in our use of graphics that clearly identify us as Nvey Eco, and we also have printed the interior of the carton with our key organic ingredient symbols. It is actually very cool. Our packaging has fantastic shelf appeal.”

Primary packaging components have had a makeover as well, with a move to lightweight yet high-performing plastics with a sleek appearance to complement the brand’s logo graphics. “All parts are recyclable—with the exception of the mirrors in the compacts,” says Dirr. “We are still working on that aspect.”