Free the birds

Beauty, Branding

Beauty beyond the shelf

Optimizing beauty brands for a DTC world

When it comes to their e-commerce offer, most beauty brands are still using the mindset of “on-shelf” with busy cluttered packaging that misses opportunities to deepen connections with consumers. Instead, they need to adopt a DTC mindset, which for many beauty brands will be about forgetting that shelves ever existed.

The main difference between designing for DTC versus traditional retail brands is simplicity. 

While packaging for on-shelf beauty brands has to work extremely hard to grab attention at noisy, hyper-competitive beauty counters, DTC packaging designs can be far simpler, bolder and freer because they don’t have to stand out against a sea of competitors on shelf. This often leads to much more iconic and memorable packaging designs because the branding has been distilled down to its very essence and has much more space to breathe.

We drew on these principles in our work for FFS, the UK’s first and biggest DTC women’s shaving brand, by cleaning up the clutter on their packaging, scaling up the identity to make it feel much bolder and attitude-driven, and setting it against a suite of distinctive geometric patterns. Simplifying the brand elements in this way and giving them more space immediately increased the visual impact of the brand, making it much more memorable and helping FFS grow its subscribers from 60k to 100k.

The Subtle Less-Is-More Approach

Similarly, the packaging we created for DTC skincare brand Loum avoids unnecessary distractions on-pack to embody a sense of calm, reflecting the soothing and stress-relieving quality of their CBD oil-based products. Instead of trying to shout the loudest, the subtle less-is-more approach is actually what makes the brand stand out online and creates a comforting, lasting impact when it arrives at consumers’ homes.

Beauty brands that want to catch up to the new pace DTC competitors are setting, should look at their existing packaging through a DTC lens to determine what elements on the packaging they really need, and what excess baggage can be stripped away to increase its impact for the DTC market.

This article was 1st published in Beauty Packaging