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How Truth, Science, and Good Packaging Creates Good Branding

The Platinum Pentaward throws its weight behind beauty brand Living Proof, a startup committed to transparency, science, good packaging design–and good distribution.

Fresh off a win of the Platinum Pentaward 2009 for “Best of the Category Body,” the result of beauty startup Living Proof’s collaboration with branding gurus Wolff Olins has a significant ROI.

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In a world full of L’Oreal and Maybelline–make-up and hair-care giants with a constant flow of new products and little brand loyalty–most beauty start-ups would be happy to break even. Not the case with Living Proof, a science-driven line of hair-care products dreamed up in a laboratory near MIT. With an ambition to solve problems for women while launching on a scale somewhere between Walgreen’s and Bergdorf Goodman, the brains behind Living Proof wanted to create a brand that consumers care about. And naturally, packaging plays a big role.

Living Proof

So how did they align company targets with consumer desires? Funny enough, they matched up. CEO Rob Robillard explains that the founders behind the label–doctors, businessmen, and stylists–wanted a brand that is honest with its customers, innovative in its technology, and designed with consumer utility and enjoyment in mind. Turns out women look for the same attributes in a beauty brand: transparency about the product, simplicity, and above all, efficacy.

As any manufacturer worth its salt knows, packaging is everything. Living Proof consulted with brand development firm Wolff Olins on tactile packaging loosely based on the shape of pottery (sturdy, simple, elegant, useful). It’s no small feat to innovate on bottle shape, but the cap, finished in smooth plastic versus the tactile, textured walls–is a convex shape that bleeds into the bottle for an interruption-free profile. In this case, the structural form of the product line is critical to Living Proof’s branded message: an atypical product that is as practical as it is beautiful (the before-and-afters are pretty enticing, I’ll admit).

Living Proof Packaging

Living Proof decided on a three-pronged sales strategy for the brand, rebelling against the exclusivity approach. The products are sold in bricks-and-mortar Sephora stores as well as on QVC and through the Web site. Only time will tell if the brand will be successful in challenging the status quo and “ending the common beauty frustrations of people everywhere.”

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