Ideally I’d like my cosmetic brand to help make the world a better place.
90% of people who walk through the formulating door at Realize Beauty feel very strongly about wanting to make a product that makes a difference. Not, as you might think to the wearers hair or skin (we are of course talking about beauty products), no I’m talking about to the world. Everybody wants to save the world…….
And that is OK but there are several traps that I see people un-knowingly setting for themselves which later come back to bite them and their world saving mission, after all you can’t very well be the hero if you get shot in act one. This thing’s gotta have legs to take it all the way to the finish line.
So what are some of these traps?
- Thinking that nobody else has every done this and that there are no other products on the market with this clean philosophy.
While it is fair to say that no two people come in with exactly the same vision it is very rare that something completely novel and off-the-wall different is thought up. This may sound disappointing and may take a bit of the wind out of your sales but fear not, being completely different in any market is risky and generally best pulled off with a huge marketing and advertising budget, some famous friends and a huge amount of money. Us mere mortals are best just incrementally changing and twisting what is already out there.
2. Draw up a ‘my brand won’t include this or that chemical’ list without having much of a clue what this or that chemical even do in a formula.
There is nothing wrong with having an ingredient philosophy that says you want all natural, organic, local-only, sustainable, biodegradable, fair trade, recognisable names only, 5 ingredients max or whatever BUT again it is a little naive to think that other brands just use long-winded chemical sounding ingredients for the shear hell of it without giving a damn about the environment, your health or their moral obligations. It is possible to create cosmetics that tick any of the above ingredient philosophy boxes but it will come at a cost (and we could argue a benefit). Our job is to work out if that cost is viable and the benefit is going to be valued. If nobody buys your 5 ingredient only shampoo because it sucks your ‘change the world’ platform is going to get washed away.
3. Thinking that you have to offer a perfect solution to be viable.
The words ‘perfect’ and ‘business’ can never exist together in my humble opinion. Being in business generally feels like running with the wolves, spinning plates or some other pretty full-on crazy and a little bit out-of-control analogy. Why? Because you are going to be dealing with people and people have their own ideas of what they like, want and need to throw a spanner in your works. If you set yourself up as offering the perfect, 100% thought through and amazing brand philosophy one of two things might happen. Firstly you won’t ever get your brand off the starting blocks because it is just too hard and you never feel like it is good enough or two, you will launch it but at some time in its infancy you will start to doubt if being so rigid with everything was indeed worth it. I have seen this happen before, many times and it is often triggered by the silliest of every-day issues such as a key material no longer being available or going up in price, your target market changing focus, a competitor who is actually not as clean as you (philosophy wise) taking your share or whatever. If letting go of a little control isn’t your thing and the idea of taking a brand to market when it is 70% OK freaks you out maybe think about getting a more laid back business partner.
4. Over-simplifying the world saving problem that you are trying to solve.
If you are going to be a ‘free from’ or ‘clean, green’ brand it really does pay to be open-minded and hearted about the cause you are planning to tackle. Emotive actions are great when you are deciding where to spend your money but if you are trying to really make a difference you will need to understand the problem inside and out. Think about the Palm oil supply chain issue for example, the strongest emotive pull is the animal welfare issue but the world-changing part of the puzzle is land management, governments and ultimately hard-hitting politics. Every simple issue has a complexity and depth to it that it would pay to appreciate before you place what might be a lifetime of energy and money into ‘fixing’ IF making a difference is your motivating factor.
5. Underestimating how hard this will be.
Call me a sadist but I’m actually a fan of hard problems and love tackling challenges head on so I don’t see this as a negative, more that I see it as a chance to grow and be challenged. However, if you are not naturally resilient and determined – not to be proved right (as you will often feel like maybe you got this wrong on your journey) but to learn and grow then maybe you should consider a different platform for your brand ambition. A little soul-searching can save your business life.
So can a cosmetic brand change the world?
Yes, yes it can but usually, most often with small steps rather than giant futuristic leaps. Think of the body shop, Aveda, Lush, Aesop, these are all brands who have gained a following from being different, a little bit ‘out there’ and challenging but take a closer look and you will see that each one has many aspects to them that are the same as everyone else. Ask yourself why that might be and challenge yourself to work out what people are buying into when they select these or other brands.
However, radical, different and futuristic we like to think we are our brains feel most comfortable with the familiar and that is exactly why making one small step at a time really does help lead us to a brighter, greener, cleaner future. I’m not saying give up, what I’m saying is pick your battle and run with that as that is the best way of staying in the race.
Have fun and do come and talk to us about your brand ideas as we love helping you work through this side of things.