branding

Skincare is Personal at Curology

I may be biased when talking about Curology because it literally cured my acne in ways that accutane, a dairy-free diet, and chugging water could ever do for me. Curology is a “super-bottle” of skincare made for you, and I haven’t seen anything quite like it in the skincare industry that’s open to the market.

The brand was founded in early 2014 under the name “PocketDerm” and later rebranded to “Curology” in late 2015. Curology was founded by a family of two certified dermatologists and a technologist that wanted to bring affordable and accessible skincare to those who need it. The family business is a mother and two sons, the two dermatologists being the mother and son and technologist being the second son.

The story goes that the son dermatologist was helping a patient in New Mexico who had suffered from acne for years until she finally saw a dermatologist (the founder of Curology) who cured her skin. She said that it took her years to see a doctor because she didn’t have the money and viewed it as a luxury to see a provider who could help her.

The name “Curology” broken down is Cure-Ology. “Ology” being a suffix that is used to signify the study of, or science of. “Cure” as a verb means the relief of symptoms, to be healed. As a noun “cure” is defined as a treatment. So, the made up name “Curology” is meant to sound like a scientific treatment. It definitely has a ring to it.

Curology is a monthly subscription that is customized for you. You can opt in to getting a small bottle once a month or a large bottle once every other month. It’s a website you go to, answer short survey of questions about your skin, add some photos and then you get sent a 1-step skin treatment that you apply at night.

You get set up with a medical provider who can answer your questions within 72 hours and Every bottle of Curology is different and is even personalized with your name on it.

They recently expanded their product line with a generic cleanser and moisturizer. Since the product was only one thing before, and it was called Curology, the differentiation between the main product and the brand. Are they both Curology? They refer to the customized product as a “super bottle”  but I think they are both actually “Curology.” It’s unclear.

Although Curology has super-bottles for wrinkles, age spots, acne, and scarring, their focus is mostly on treating acne, so I would say their target is young adults who can’t afford seeing a dermatologist and are looking for a cure for adult acne they can’t seem to get rid of, similar to their story of how the brand all began.

Advertising is a big thing for Curology, and I think everybody who has heard of it at this point is because they saw an advertisement for Curology. Their targeting must be extremely spot on because when I tell people who don't have skin concerns about how I cleared my skin, they haven’t heard of Curology before. Even in some of the new ads, the subject of the ad talks about about they found Curology because of an ad! A lot of the marketing they work on is social media related, whether its paid instagram ads or influencer marketing. To name a few, Emma Chamberlain, HeyItsFei, and Best Dressed are three influencers I watch who were sponsored by Curology and that was without me searching for Curology content. I imagine they use paid social as an awareness tactic to reach as many people they can with troubled skin, and influencer marketing as a way for consumers to relate to the content, learn more from somebody they trust, and see the personalized results.

All that being said, I believe the overall message for Curology is that their product is personalized. With hashtags like #treatYOself, putting your name on each bottle you receive, customizing the formula to you, and general messaging about helping YOU feel confident in YOUR skin, the message for Curology is that their product was made especially for you. A brand about personalization makes us feel special which sucks us in, and it’s even more impressive that the product actually works! (For me, at least.)

Thanks for reading! ✨🌴🌈
- Ariane
I expand on my blog posts in my podcast, Beauty and Brands, here!
Follow me on Instagram for more fun: @ariane_long

Schmidt's Naturals: Healthy Products For All!

When I first learned about the benefits of using aluminum free deodorant I went to the drug store, where I usually buy antiperspirant, to find a new option that was aluminum free. To my surprise, there were no options available at the time for women. After trial and error with testing some of the options I was able to find in stores, I went to my next option, which was to shop for deodorant online, which was foreign to me for a product I can usually just pick up with other routine items. But I discovered Schmidt’s Naturals after a quick google search and bought it online, to soon discover it’s sold at Target!

By the looks of it, aluminum-free deodorant seems to be a trendier topic now and new brands are popping up all over -- so how did Schmidt’s beat the competition and end up in Target despite all the other new brands, and expand their product line to more than just deodorant?

After earning a business degree at Michigan State, the founder and CEO Jaime Schmidt was living in Portland, OR where there was a large community of “makers.” She wanted to get involved but wasn’t sure what her passion was until she was pregnant and knew she needed to invest in products that were safer to use. She took a few soap DIY classes and learned a ton about ingredients and decided to join the #makermovement, too.

Schmidt’s Naturals started in 2010 by Jaime Schmidt who was selling her original deodorant recipe to friends and family and at farmers markets in Portland, OR. Her line started with deodorant, sunscreens, soaps, and lotions until she decided to focus on the product that was most important to her -- deodorant. The deodorant was originally only sold in jars (at first in mason jars, very DIY) until consumer demand kicked in and Schmidt’s Naturals was then available in stick form, too.

The brand is named “Schmidt’s Naturals” because it was named after herself which keeps the founder in the vision for the brand. “Naturals” emphasizes the brand’s vision for incorporating as many plant derived ingredients as possible into all of the their products.

There are two taglines that the brand tends to use, and they are “The New Face of Natural” and “Which Scent Will You Choose?” To me, “The New Face of Natural” is about debunking old stereotypes about natural products. Some stereotypes being that they don’t work, smell bad, or are only for hippies. “Which Scent Will You Choose?” implies that you’ve already chosen to buy Schmidt’s Naturals, meaning, it is not a question of if you’re going to switch but rather, which of the irresistible scents will you buy? It also emphasizes the ingredients because the scents are sourced naturally.

A big differentiator for the brand are the scents they have which all smell beautiful and have lovely names that roll off the tongue: Lavender + Sage, Ylang Ylang + Calendula, Cedarwood + Juniper, etc. The packaging for each scent stands out with bright colors and illustrations of the plant-powered scents. The product line is now more than just deodorant and has expanded into soaps and toothpaste, which follow the same branding guidelines when it comes to packaging.

There are more options at the store now, for example I heard Native will be sold at Target soon too, and a new brand called Love, Beauty & Planet, which is owned by Unilever is now displayed right next to Schmidt’s Naturals at Target. It seems like Unilever started to take notice that consumers are interested in aluminum-free deodorant but didn’t want to change the formula of Dove in order to save the integrity of that brand. On that note, Unilever actually announced that they have acquired Schmidt’s Naturals in December of 2017.

In terms of advertising I’ve only seen ads for Schmidt’s Naturals deodorant when they have a new scent released for a new season. So far I’ve noticed they have limited edition scents for the seasons like “Waves” for summer and holiday scents for the winter. Usually I seen these ads in my Instagram stories.

Although I’ve been targeted specifically for the advertisements because I’m already a customer, I don’t believe I’m the only demographic for this brand. Out of all the natural brands for bath products, Schmidt’s Naturals was the first to be in stores where anybody could find it. When Unilever noticed that they made sure to catch on so they could own that part of the market. The reason Unilever was successful in their acquisition was because the main goal of Schmidt’s Naturals is to make healthy bath products accessible to everybody.

Thanks for reading! ✨🌴🌈
- Ariane
Find my podcast here!
Follow me on Instagram for more fun: @ariane_long

Glossier: Embracing The Skin You're In

If you somehow haven’t heard of Glossier by now in 2018, STRAP. IN. This brand has literally been compared to a cult because of how strong the brand affinity is for it.

Before we talk about the brand, we have to talk about the brand before the brand, Into The Gloss. Into The Gloss is a blog created by Emily Weiss, who started it after graduating from NYU in 2007 and working for magazines like Vogue and W Magazine. After making connections in New York, she started her blog in 2010 by interviewing women she knew in the city about their beauty routines. After learning about so many people’s beauty regimens and what was missing, Weiss came up with the idea to start a product line of her own.

Cue Glossier in October of 2014; which started because of the inspiration of women who use beauty products. So, let’s break down the name “Glossier” what does that mean and how do you say it? “Gloss-” comes from the blog title and “-ier” at first seemed like a really French way to say “glossy.” While this may be interesting, and was my first hunch at breaking down the name because the French do have a very minimalist view on cosmetics and beauty, “Glossier” is actually a play on words of the word “Dossier.” W H A T ?

Dossier - noun

  1. a collection or file of documents on the same subject, especially a complete file containing detailed information about a person or topic.

So, what does that mean? Glossier Founder, Emily Weiss says in a 2015 POPSUGAR interview that Glossier “is building into a collection of objects that will hopefully will become … a larger beauty story.”

Glossier was announced on Into The Gloss with only four products all about enhancing the skin you’re in. Glossier released online only with no stores and would eventually be famous for their multiple pop-ups in major cities until they finally opened their first “Glossier Showroom” in NYC in 2017 and opened the second brick and mortar in LA a year later in May 2018.

In late 2014 after the first 4 products were launched, Glossier received $8.4MM in funding and I believe this was the first time I saw advertising for Glossier on the NYC Subway system.

For a cosmetics brand that was exclusively online it was an interesting play to do subway ads only, but I think their main goal was to have everybody in New York talking about it or curious at the least. These ads were eye-catching and definitely changed the game as far as makeup goes. At the time of these ads, the makeup trends were in the thick of mattifying powders and drawn on thick eyebrows. The ads, however, embraced dewy skin and minimal coverage makeup. Mind. Blowing. A lot of their copy or messaging says 1 of 2 things “SKIN FIRST. MAKEUP SECOND. SMILE ALWAYS” or, simply, “SKIN IS IN.”

Since then, Glossier has continued to run out of home ads, but I’ve also seen an ad this week for Glossier on Instagram which was a series of photos in a carousel with selfies of people of all different ethnicities, genders, ages, and religions.

Additionally, for a brand that mostly sells online and is known for their social media, user-generated content driven approach to marketing, Glossier does not pay for endorsements or sponsorships through social media influencers. However, they do have an ambassador program where bloggers, vloggers, and the like can promote products, offer their fans a discount, and get commission for their sales.

When releasing a new product, they are inspired by what people are saying about the brand on social media and post screenshots on Instagram stories of what people are saying. They also like to give a backstory on why each product is being make and how it solves the everyday skincare or makeup problem that we as consumers probably didn’t realize we had.

So, let’s move on to the packaging of the products. All of their products are aesthetically pleasing and Instagram-able, but the packaging tends to be pretty low-quality. I believe this is where they cut costs to help make good-for-you and higher-quality products affordable. This is a great effort to keep the price point down so more people can enjoy and treat their skin well. Glossier’s color scheme is white and millennial pink, and every single time you order from the brand you get a pack of stickers and a bubble-wrap material pink ziplock pouch for your new products. The stickers are a great way to personalize your things. I know most people put their stickers on products to decorate them, but I put them on my computer!

For naming conventions of the products, there’s usually three ways that they go. One is naming products that is related to the consumer as a group or as an individual: “Generation G", “Glossier You,” or “Body Hero.” Two is naming the product exactly what it is: “Lip Gloss,” “Soothing Face Mist,” or “Priming Moisturizer.” Three is naming the product based on what it is but with a clever twist: “Wowder,” “Milky Jelly Cleanser,” or “Invisible Shield.”

To get to the bottom of it all, Glossier is selling natural, individual beauty. The brand was founded after hearing the beauty experiences of women and everything from the ambassador program, stickers, and products embrace individualism and not covering natural beauty.

Thanks for reading! ✨🌴🌈
- Ariane
Find my podcast here!
Follow me on Instagram for more fun: @ariane_long

Kiehl's: Nature & Medicine Inspired Skincare

The first time I heard of Kiehl’s was when my dad bought me a giant bottle of their classic Crème de Corps coco butter body lotion for Christmas. It was my favorite lotion and the bottle lasted me for years. Since that introductory, it has become one of my favorite brands for not only skincare, but hair and bath products as well.

Kiehl’s since 1851 is not actually named after the founder of the original storefront, but a pharmacist who bought it in 1894. The original storefront was called “Brunswick Apotheke” in the East Village of Manhattan until John Kiehl renamed it “Kiehl Pharmacy.”

Kiehl’s was taken over by a family by the last name Morse in 1921 and continued to run the company until 2001 after L’Oreal acquired the brand in 2000 as a part of their collection of “L’Oreal Luxe” brands. Other brands in this L’Oreal Luxe category are Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent, and Clarisonic, to name a few.

In my experience, the Kiehl’s storefronts that I shop at are always in interesting locations. If in a mall, the Kiehl’s stores are around higher-end brands that aren’t associated with skincare or bath products. In more independent settings I notice that the storefront still feels like a pharmacy and is even placed where I imagine an independent pharmacy would be. Kiehl’s products are also the brand of choice for all shower and locker room amenities at every Equinox gym in the country.

Every store features a skeleton that is named “Mr. Bones” because the original Kiehl’s store had an actual skeleton that was used during consultations to explain or demonstrate the causes and effects of ailments. The brand explains that they have a skeleton in every storefront to show appreciation for the medical community.

Along with Mr. Bones, the first Kiehl’s store also had a Harley Davidson Motorcycle in the store to lure in men while women shopped. Along this theme, they also have a large collection of men’s products for shaving and other skincare that would appeal to them, in dark blue packaging and usage of words like “fuel” in the product names. Also on every men’s line package is an airplane with a quote that reads “For a Refuel Land at Kiehl’s.” I guess men like feeling like they have a tank that needs to be filled in order to buy skincare.  They have another product line is for babies too, which makes the brand overall inclusive for the whole family to use.  

So, while the brand is inclusive by having product lines that appeal to the whole family, that’s not the only branding tactic they use. They also use lots of pharmacy and nature keywords that help differentiate the brand. They brand is obviously rooted in chemistry and appreciation for medicine, but they also emphasize that their products are “nature inspired” and derived from plants. To my understanding it is unclear if they paid for any advertising before L’Oreal acquired them. This NYT press release from 2000 states that the brand wasn’t trendy and L’Oreal’s goal was to elevate the roots of the brand.

Kiehl's Since 1851 Advertising

Recently I’ve been served ads on Instagram for Kiehl’s and there’s a few things I noticed that help the brand stand out from competitors. Their ads don’t feature models and are styled next to the plant-derived ingredients in the product. This opens up the brand to be for men or women and makes the product the hero rather than selling perfect skin or that somebody will fall in love with you. They describe their products as “nature-powered” but don’t claim to be all natural or organic.

The common theme for this brand and the main message that is the reason you might buy Kiehl’s is because it appears that they are trying to sell you the cure for your skincare ailments. Kiehl’s main message is that they are using medicine and nature to deliver the best results to you and cure you.

Thanks for reading! ✨🌴🌈
- Ariane
Find my podcast here!
Follow me on Instagram for more fun: @ariane_long

Thinx Underwear: Including Every Body in Menstruation

I have always wanted to buy Thinx period underwear just because it’s so intriguing and innovative. Before period underwear, I never thought there were options beyond pads and tampons, and period underwear opened so many doors for people to menstruate comfortably.

“Thinx” is a really interesting name and at first I didn’t understand why a feminine hygiene brand was called this. So, I simply googled the definition of “think” to get a deeper understanding of what the word means by definition. On one hand it means to have an opinion, belief, or idea; but it also means to “direct one’s mind toward something; use one’s mind actively to form connected ideas.” To me, this already shouts concepts like thinking outside the box and connecting with one another, but let’s dive into the brand to understand what it’s all about, keeping in mind the meaning of the brand name.

Credit:  AdWeek

Credit: AdWeek

When Thinx launched in 2015 their first advertising campaign was deemed controversial. I was living in NYC at the time and even I had never seen advertising quite like it before. For the first time ever women were posing in underwear that wasn’t sexual, and a period ad was comparing women to nature that wasn’t disastrous. Period ads prior were often comparing menstruation to tornados or “mother nature” who ruined the day, but these ads showed a women wearing a shirt and underwear sitting, menstruating, then next to a picture of an egg or a grapefruit.

It was amazing, and at first a lot of the copy for the ads used the word “women” but since has just switched to “menstruating human” or “people with periods,” and here’s why this is important:

There are people who menstruate who may not be women. Some are young girls who get their period at 11, some are women who transitioned to men and still get their period, some people are intersex and get their period. Since this change, they have run an ad featuring a trans man and they came out with a new product line called Thinx BTWN for young girls.

Credit:  Refinery29

Credit: Refinery29

Thinx is also actively participating to end menstrual inequality and help those who can’t afford period products. Through their partners, the donate their underwear to help people who menstruate all over the world and are making a big difference.

With all of this, I think the message this brand is portraying is all about inclusivity. Thinx is about thinking outside the traditional tampon box and about what’s happening globally. Who is different from you that menstruates and how might they be struggling? Thinx is spreading the message to be aware of those around you and to include them in the larger conversation.


Thanks for reading! ✨🌴🌈
- Ariane
Find my podcast here!
Follow me on Instagram for more fun: @ariane_long