A Study in Brand Engineering

  • Following set core principles when developing a beauty brand helps you stay on track and manage your team while keeping priority goals in mind.
  • Storyboarding your product development process helps you see potential issues, as well as potential solutions, and also aids in keeping your team speaking the same language and communicating as effectively as possible.
  • Integrating the principles your brand is built on into your business style helps keep the message clear for your team members, as well as maintaining a solid idea for your brand to build itself on.

Before engaging in the research for labs that would develop a beauty product line’s formulations or searching out graphic artists, computer-aided design (CAD) engineers and molders to develop packaging concepts, it is important for beauty brand owners and decision-makers to establish a handful of core principles that essentially builds the brand’s decision matrix. The brand principles should be simple enough to be translated into this decision matrix, which is a chart that helps address different project aspects, with columns for a particular section’s needs, requirements and possible solutions. By overlaying brand principles into the needs column, you can translate those needs into the requirements that the capabilities of different vendors can be valued against.

When my co-founder DJ Riggs and I set out to establish the core principles for the beauty line Edia Cosmetics for Hair, the driving premise was simplicity. From that viewpoint, we also understood the Edia brand mantra had to be organic and consumable throughout our corporate network. Moreover, our vendors, contractors, employees and managers had to be able to relate to the Edia core principles in terms of their own individual roles.

For Edia, we understood when each vendor category would be needed and at what stage, and any ancillary vendors would be given these principles and time lines in terms of their roles. For example, if it was a CAD engineer paired up with a graphic artist, they would need to understand the need to create the packaging blueprint along with the renderings needed to meet the Edia design principles of chic yet simple, and with a level of functionality that doesn’t hinder consumers’ mobility when using the product.

With Edia’s simplicity principles woven consistently throughout this foundational stage, we were able to put these into play within our decision matrix to see if the proof—be it lab sample, RAD design or even a paint finish sample—covered the requirements in the decision matrix successfully. Consequently, the downstream application of the core principles can then use decision-information tools like a decision matrix to help put your concept for your beauty brand into motion.

The lesson to take away is that no matter how many teams or how many people you have working for your brand, you have to keep track of progress with the most basic tenants of your goal. In Edia’s case, those tenants were that the brand was simple, mobile and clean, and this was the vision we instilled in the teams we had working for us. By keeping it simple, despite the many different groups we were involved with, we were able to not overload the start-up.

Laying a Brand Foundation

What factors will help you establish what resources you need to build your brand’s baseline? One of the first is assembling the right vendor network mix to help you achieve the product line development process you’ve envisioned. Once you establish your core principles and apply them to your decision matrix, you must storyboard the product development process. This allows you to framework your products’ story, and understanding every scene will create questions and require transitions on how to get to the next stage.

If you are working with packaging renderings, for example, you also must employ CAD engineers who can translate those renderings with relative scale into drawings necessary to build a prototype. This means your transition material from the graphic artist to the CAD engineer needs to be in a deliverable format that is acceptable for the CAD engineer.

The understanding of your scene transitions and what deliverables—e.g., file formats—will be needed for vendors is critical to creating a streamlined development process. For the Edia product development process, it was important to us to have either U.S.-based vendors, or if we did have to conduct business with vendors in other countries, for those vendors to have a representative that was stateside. For us, this stateside access allowed for better facilitated communications on project plans and status reports between those vendors and the Edia team.

It is also necessary to develop critical path scenarios in order to realize who must be involved in order to make the product work. This is about understanding the critical path that should materialize when storyboarding your product development process, which, in turn, helps in building your vendor network mix.

Edia assembled this model for its styling aid product line. We wanted to identify what vendors or stages where critical for a quality product to be delivered on time. For example, the formulator plays a pivotal role in sourcing a product, and the availability of the ingredients required to produce a product adds another level of criticalness. This means that all downstream and ancillary factors following this have to be based off the formulator’s time lines for product delivery.

Building a Brand Model

Once you storyboard your product development process and build a vendor network matrix that supports it, you need to figure out where to go from here. For Edia, we found it important to assemble production-ready samples, which allowed us to create a profit/loss statement based on the cost of the line and the associated packaging, shipping and customs expenses tied to the production run. Moreover, from a production integrity standpoint, this helped in understanding the exact process, sourcing partners, their individual quality assurance standards, and what the combined product looked like once fully assembled.

But playing out the storyboard doesn’t stop with just the production run. It also plays into developing the organization, which supports the brand through functions such as marketing and operations. This establishes parameters, created by employers, for which employees need to do what for the operations and logistics business, as well as when they need to do it and how it affects their counterparts downstream, whether that be external vendors or other employees.

For example, employers should set policies for job roles that are aligned with the mission statement of the organization, and the resulting employee action should be individually contributing deliverables that follow the policies and mission statement. Another example is employers creating ethical codes of conduct that reach across financial and moral guidelines, and for employees to then tactically and operationally function with sound judgment that is in sync with personal and corporate standards.

This method also can be adapted for a product development organization to establish objectives, expectations and deliverables. You can develop job role policies that are aligned with your mission statement and brand principles, where the principles are translated into job roles for designers, managers and brand ambassadors. Then connect those job roles to individual deliverables that are regionally focused.

In this way, you can engineer a solid foundation for your beauty brand. It helps you lay out a plan, see a variety of variables and solution options, think critically about the best way to address different variables, and assist in developing a system for you to ingrain your brand’s principles not just into its products but also into its team members.

Remyi Fredson-Cole is the co-founder of Edia Cosmetics For Hair, as well as an author and entrepreneur who cut his teeth with Fortune 100 companies in various roles covering product engineering, marketing strategy and operations. He challenges conventional wisdom with his approach to market strategies and brand engineering, and he is the author of I Have An Idea ... Now What? A Blueprint for the 21st Century Entrepreneur, available summer 2012 in audiobook and digital format. Contact him at [email protected].

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