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One of the key challenges to being a beauty brand owner is to not get so close to every aspect of the line that you ignore coherent, constructive and consistent feedback from consumers, experts and sometimes both. Usually, this happens when brand owners become too emotionally tied to specific aspects of the brand—Kelly Kovack, partner at Brand Growth Management, refers to this as “talking to myself.”
To help fight this, it’s important to often ask yourself questions such as, “Do the things I am attached to about my brand only matter to me?” “Do they resonate with the consumer?” “Am I constantly trying to convince my customers about the importance and meaning of certain things?” And, in effect, “Am I talking to myself?”
For a couple of years, I was indeed talking to myself in regard to my brand Alchimie Forever. I became so attached to certain aspects of my line that I delayed implementing tweaks to our branding and packaging to the detriment of sales. My brand had become my baby; I thought it was perfect in every way, even in its eccentricities and quirkiness. I was receiving feedback from my customers, from branding experts, from my team even, that some of these quirks were actually hindering sales—and actually were not quirks at all, but rather mistakes that could be relatively easily fixed to make the brand (“the baby”) stronger.
Below is a case study on the rebranding of one of Alchimie Forever’s products, the Gentle Antioxidant Refining Scrub, that illustrates this process of improvement.
In the initial launch of Alchimie Forever, we certainly took the time to research and carefully craft the products. But being too close with that kind of attention for too long can be detrimental to your products and your brand.
Formulation. First, let’s look at the actual formulation. Alchimie Forever products launched with combinations of parabens as our preservative and antibacterial agents. One of our core values as a company is to be accountable to science first and foremost. And science truly says that parabens are the safest and most effective preservatives available for use in cosmetics. (The single study that links parabens to breast cancer is actually based on a flawed methodology.)
Armed with this knowledge, we ignored the pressure from the media and, more significantly, from consumers to switch the preservative system out, deciding that it was our burden to bear to re-educate the entire beauty consumer population and make it realize that parabens were the way to go. Truth and science would prevail, we thought.
Mental note: Remember that at a certain point, perception becomes reality. And that this is particularly true in the beauty industry.
Product names. Now, on to the engaging way we can title our products. When Alchimie Forever launched its line in 2000 at Forever Laser Institut, our medical spa located in Geneva, Switzerland, we thought of the most brilliant idea—we would name the products after laser terms, such as the names or parts of lasers. After all, my father, Dr. Luigi Polla, had been one of the first dermatologists to bring laser technology for use on the skin to Europe, and had built his reputation on this technology. The very medical spa we owned and in which Alchimie Forever was born even had the name “laser” in it.
We convinced ourselves that these technical, unknown (some would say “intimidating and meaningless”) words would intrigue consumers and speak to the high-tech nature of our brand. Hence our products were named (and we spent countless dollars on trademarks) Nd:YAG, Yttrium, Alexandrite, Excimer, KTP and so on. Specifically, we named our scrub Excimer+. Our cleansers were named Excimer, and adding the plus sign made sense to us because exfoliating is really extra good cleansing. We couldn’t just be talking to ourselves, right?