Wednesday, January 14, 2009

the value of knowing the consumer intimately

what brand communicates a clear message? i was considering this while i was in the shower this morning and it occurred to me that there is one brand i have not only been loyal to, but one i have helped shape as a designer: dove.

i am a bit of a shampoo nazi, typically smelling every single shampoo before i decide which one to buy (i really, really like products crammed with potentially irritating frangrances.) i remember when dove made it's appearance on the haircare aisle, and i remember because i recognized the bottle before i even saw the logo.

after a few hit-and-misses, (which still occur in australia and the UK,) dove finally modeled their bottles after their iconic bar of soap that has been around for at least a few decades. although i was just pint-sized, i have distinct memories of being bathed by my mother with dove's beauty bar. (talk about some deeply-rooted brand loyalty.) in any case, anyone who has used that soap could probably tell you exactly how it smells; i was sure that whatever was in that shampoo bottle smelled good. dove did not disappoint... "fragrance" is only 1/3 of the way down on the ingredients list.

dove has also been successful in knowing its consumer intimately, utilizing scathing critiques of the beauty industry to sell it's products. conversely, it has typically been the trend among cosmetic companies to sell their products with ads featuring impossibly beautiful women. you can see some of the online dove ads here. "Amy" is particularly effective, and there isnt any soap in the ad. its just so damned adorable and sappy. all eye-rolling aside (i get a bit cranky when a company shamelessly attempts to appeal to my unequipped sensitive side,) i had the experience while at nottingham spirk to participate in a brainstorming session for a dove self-esteem related product. let me tell you, nothing tugs my rusty heartstrings more than a couple of serious-faced engineers addressing a little girl's self esteem issues.

additionally, i also love the visceral go fresh ads that highlight the user's experience of the product rather than making any claims about it's effectiveness... even if they do share an uncanny resemblance to those drug-use montages from "requiem for a dream." apparently dove is also aware of the appeal of psychotropic substances. smart advertising! i should consider this for my portfolio teaser.

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