From the Editor: Strength of Spirit

Posted: February 19, 2016 by
Linda Casey

In this issue’s Package Design Matters’ interview, Vita Raykhman, co-founder and creative director at Amika, discusses leaving a blooming career as a designer and brand strategist to pursue a side project. Yes, the side project turned successful business is a common theme among founders’ stories. What’s special about Raykhman’s story is the timing. She left at the top of an economic downturn to start a company in a market that continues to perplex other brands.

In its report, “Beauty Devices—US—March 2015,” research group Mintel reports that hair appliance sales are stagnant as replacement is the primary reason for beauty device purchases. Long purchase cycles and a move towards more natural-looking hair is also negatively impacting sales of hair appliances. The research group has reported this sluggishness in Amika’s target market since 2009—the year that Raykhman moved to growing her business full time. Yet, the high-end hair-care appliance brand grew so quickly that it’s now sold in 35 countries!

Part of Amika’s success can be directly attributed to Raykhman’s bold approach to business and design that drove her to challenge the category cues for the hair appliance market and choose a visual brand identifier that was so unusual that it caused her package printer to question if it was even intentional..

Boldness is also being rewarded within large corporations, such as L’Oreal. At this year’s Package Design Matters Conference, Sam Cheow, chief product accelerator for L’Oreal, gave a presentation entitled, “Making Rebellion Legal.” Cheow argued that secret agents—on film and off—have a penchant for rebelling, often with a cause, mixing cool and rogue into their own special brand of wow, and that designers and marketers need to adopt these characteristics.

At L’Oreal, Cheow created the CMO Agency, an internal agency-like structure that specializes in disseminating key information across the brands, covering real time trends and innovation, providing expertise across the company’s different métiers, incubating new business initiatives and innovations. The agency uses what Cheow describes as “a new type of agent in town—less secret, more strategic, but just as important and just as awesome.” Cheow emphasized that enabling designers and marketers to become “agents” can help companies of all sizes accelerate timelines and deliver innovations that impact the businesses’ bottom lines.

Boldness is also being demonstrated in how some brands are breaking into new categories with brand extensions. In “Branching Out”, Package Design’s associate editor Katie Gravely looks at how nationally recognized brands are making bold moves in new markets.

Whether it’s in an individual’s career choices, a corporation’s employee development strategy or in the evolution of a brand’s promise, Package Design’s editors saw boldness as a key characteristic for success. As we embark on a new year, the question we now must ask of ourselves, as an industry, how can we be bolder in 2016?