My favourite brands to work with are those that are willing to be BOLD. In fact, I would go as far as to say that a successful brand needs to be bold. As a graphic designer, I love designing branding that stands out visually, but being bold needs to go so much further than that.
“But bold is not for me!” I hear you say. “My brand is professional and serious.” or “My brand is feminine and delicate.”
Stay with me here.
What is ‘being bold?’
Being bold doesn’t mean garish colours and huge fonts. It definitely (and I mean definitely) doesn’t mean multiple exclamation marks. It means positioning your brand to stand out from your competitors. It means taking your unique point of difference, and owning the hell out of it.
Maybe in your industry, being bold means being visually understated in a world full of over-designed packaging. Maybe it means having a cheeky and irreverent tone of voice in the corporate realm. Maybe it’s doing things in a more environmentally-friendly fashion than your competitors, even if that means upping your price point. Maybe it’s your brand taking a public stance on a (relevant) political or social issue. It’s doing something a little differently, in order to stand out. There’s a multitude of ways to be bold.
And so what if you don’t?
You run the real risk of being lost in the noise.
If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one. It’s a competitive marketplace, so you need to position your brand in order to stand out. Sure, you won’t win every customer – but here’s the secret – no brand will. But you will win some, and they’ll be emotionally engaged and come back again and again.
Don’t believe me? Let me show you.
Which brands are doing BOLD well?
The Ordinary was one of the fastest growing skincare brands of the past couple of years. Going from being an online brand, to being stocked globally in a few short years. The Ordinary stand out due to their simple products, low price point and understated branding. They stripped back their products, with most only having one or two active ingredients. They pared back their branding to have a super minimal, almost medicinal look. It’s these points of difference that have won The Ordinary a cult appeal – causing many of their products to sell out, and customers signing up on waiting lists.
Bodyform’s #BloodNormal is a campaign that shouldn’t be bold in 2019, but it is. Bodyform are makers of feminine hygiene products. Their research discovered that 61% of women found the portrayal of periods in advertising to be unrealistic. 1 in 5 of these women said that their confidence was damaged because menstruation wasn’t discussed openly. So Bodyform hit back.
They showed a realistic vision of period blood – red, rather than the strange advertising tradition of blue. From blood running down a woman’s leg in the shower, to stained underwear, they created an unapologetic and honest depiction of menstruation. The advert has been a huge success with both consumers, and the advertising industry. It won the Glass Lion for Change at Cannes in 2018, and Bodyform’s own research showed that two-thirds of women ‘liked’ or ‘really liked’ the ad. The campaign has now been adapted for the Australian market by Libra.
Watch the advert here.
Community Co is a phantom brand from Metcash, stocked in IGA stores across the country. They’re filling the space between higher priced household name brands, and the cheaper no-name or supermarket style brands. With quality-looking packaging but low price points, they’re appealing to the reality that shoppers want affordable yet aspirational products – proving that the two don’t need to be mutually exclusive.
Their packaging designs are bespoke, and the tone of voice is less conventional than a typical budget brand. Adding to their ‘independent brand’ appeal, they are socially and ethically focussed. They give back to local communities, with a portion of the sale from every product going back into public initiatives. This has already amounted to over $500,000. They also use 100% Australian pork and ensure that all pigs are sow stall free.
Small brands need to be bold too.
It’s not just the heavyweight brands that need to be bold. In fact, it’s probably more crucial for small brands to leverage their point of difference in order to stand out. The Prospect Project is a socially conscious scented candle business with a difference. Based in Perth, they’re a small business with just a couple of employees – and they donate $2 from every scented candle that they sell to various charities, from mental health to animal welfare to homelessness.
I wanted to create something that people could feel good about buying, whilst having the choice of where a portion of the sale of the product would be donated. In a world where we are SWAMPED for candle choices: cheap, luxury, handmade, there’s nothing particularly original about candles per se, but if they looked different, smelled different, and made people feel different then they could make an impact.
– Shannon, Owner of The Prospect Project
Their products are vegan and environmentally friendly – but they’re definitely not holier-than-thou. The brand is irreverent and sassy, with one-liners like “You don’t have to wear harem pants and have hairy armpits to give a shit about the environment.” The candles themselves are quirky, with scents such as ‘This Candle Smells Like Unicorn Poo’, and ‘You’re Really Really Really Ridiculously Good Looking’. The labels are simple and bold in their design, with no fancy packaging – a deliberate choice to be more eco-friendly. With over $20,000 donated to charities and not-for-profits so far, they’re proof that being unique and standing out is a recipe for success for a small business.
Being bold can be scary. It can feel as though you’re going to alienate some of your audience. But that’s where the magic happens. It’s where you find loyal, engaged customers. As marketing guru, Seth Godin says “in a crowded marketplace, the riskiest thing you can do is play it safe.”
After all, it’s better to be someone’s shot of whiskey than everyone’s cup of tea.
Jessica Croome is a graphic designer and branding consultant based in Perth, Western Australia. She loves working with brands who want to be bold. Get in touch at email@example.com to chat about your brand.