Building a Brand, Without the Big Marketing Budget

Look Book Cover

Tints of Nature Lookbook

I have blogged about the importance of creating a lookbook for clients that have an assortment of products or collections (see “bambeco summer lookbook” June 2010). The books can even be re-purposed for customers as a selling tool. In my Williams Sonoma days, we actually re-purposed the customer catalog images and copy to create our more selective and stylistically edited press preview books that we showed editors prior to each seasonal collection being introduced to customers. These look books were the key tool to garner editorial coverage and to tell the seasonal product story.

But what about the company that doesn’t have a collection of noteworthy and photo-ready seasonal products and stylish designer packaging? In the case of our organic and natural beauty client, Tints of Nature, that is exactly the situation we faced. The company is a UK-based beauty brand. Although well established in the UK, the retail brand was still new to the US market. In fact, from a consumer and media recognition perspective, we were starting with very little. We brought them on as a client in late 2011, just as they were about to roll out new packaging and more importantly, an improved organic formula with an even more impressive natural ingredient profile. However, the packaging roll out and new formula was not accompanied with additional marketing resources beyond our PR scope. So how to launch a “new” consumer beauty brand with no accompanying marketing dollars? Our trusty lookbook of course.

While we did not have loads of gorgeous product images to fill our book with, we did have a distinctive and super authentic organic product story to tell. In fact, in the category for “natural” hair color and care brands at retail, Tints of Nature stood apart as a market innovator and, at the time, the only brand with certified organic ingredients (over 60%). Wow. A great product story, but little visual appeal from the products themselves. How many boxes of hair colorants can we show? And to be frank, the model images used by the London-based company did not translate to a US audience.

Our approach was to use the brand’s strongest asset – the product story.  From premium certified organic ingredients to the new formula that eliminated known toxic ingredients such as propylene glycol (the first natural brand at retail to do this in 2012), we were able to weave in the product story using images that communicated the natural elements of the brand, i.e., aloe vera leaf, comfrey root, orange and grapefruit, roman chamomile flower, and natural wheat protein.

We have used the Tints of Nature look book to introduce the brand and to tell the product story to beauty editors at the top women’s fashion, beauty and healthy living magazines, as well as the top family and parenting magazines. Additionally, we use it for all pro-active campaigns. To date, we have garnered placements with Allure and Prevention (November 2012) and pending placements with InStyle (April 2013), Parenting (March 2013) and more. Without this premium, branded piece, we would have been hard-pressed to tell their story and to garner such positive response. The package alone is simply not enough.

Published by kimberlystrenk

West Coast native, enjoying life in Austin, Texas with three teen daughters, awesome husband, and one adorable, vertically challenged doxie pup, Ollie.

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