The Brief: Make-Up Designory Before
Make-Up Designory (MUD) already had a solid business as a renowned make- up school and trusted cosmetics line within the professional make-up industry when we first began our work with them. However, their presence within the general cosmetics marketplace had yet to be established.
MUD had a solid grasp on their professional consumer, but needed our help to expand their market to the everyday make-up user. The cosmetics marketplace was already flooded with other brands such as MAC, Smashbox, Lorac, and Laura Mercier that all took an “expert” positioning with their brands. Since MUD was using the same messaging, it was time to take a different approach to help them stand out in the crowded marketplace.
Research: Competitive and Consumer
Our first step to re-branding MUD was to analyze competitive messaging and trends in order to find areas of opportunity within the marketplace. We found that although many competitors took a “professional” approach to their brand positioning, none were owning education. With MUD’s educational roots and the reputation of the school, it was their natural area of opportunity. Our consumer research found that although make-up buyers were women of all ages, the baby boomer market was the most natural fit for MUD due to shared values. Our findings became the foundation for creating a unique, ownable niche for MUD.
Naming: Brand Name and Tagline Development
In order to differentiate Make-Up Designory the school from the cosmetics line, we explored three unique naming and tagline concept directions to communicate the proposed positioning options for the brand. The first approach stressed the simplicity of the line, the second was inspired by the expressive nature of make-up, and the third emphasized education.
Strategy: Brand Positioning
The three unique positioning options presented to MUD were further expressed through brand clarity boards pertaining to each direction. The boards illustrated the brand’s personality through words and images including proposed photography style, color palettes, and design inspiration.
Identity: Logo Exploration
One of the considerations in designing the new MUD logo was to maintain the original wordmark due to a large existing inventory of product. Additionally, the “MUD” abbreviation had evolved over the years and was well-known by students and professional artists but not part of the official Make-Up Designory name. To incorporate these parameters, our exploration included embellished acronym solutions, custom iconic wordmark designs, and beauty-inspired supplemental icons.
Identity: Final Logo and Line Organization
Our final solution for the MUD logo was a modern, iconic word mark with a clever fusion of all the characters in the name. The continuity of the mark, scalloped edges and “accent” element were reminiscent of a brush stroke, creating a subtle reference to the artistry of make-up. In order to ensure simplicity for the busy MUD consumer, we divided the line into easy-to-follow categories such as Face and Eyes and color-coded each product grouping for fast recognition on the shelf. The accent element in the logo became a flexible part of the identity that would change on the package with each category.
Published, HOW Magazine, 2009
Identity: Stationery System
As both a make-up school and cosmetics line, the MUD stationery system had to balance professionalism and style. Our solution was an ultra-clean front with a “surprise” flooding of color on the back. A pattern of diagrammatic illustrations of brushes, make-up, and tools brought a playful yet educational feel to the design.
Published, HOW Magazine, 2009
Packaging: Design Exploration
One of the main challenges in redesigning the MUD packaging was integrating their current primary packaging seamlessly. Before, the packaging had no representation of what the MUD brand stood for and had the typical “studio” look shared by competitors such as MAC and Smashbox. The new educational brand positioning was explored through dense informative typography, diagrammatic illustrations, and layering of information presented throughout the package experience. Clever production concepts such as inserts, sliding boxes, and die cuts were also explored.
Packaging: The MUD Line
The final packaging communicated the educational brand positioning with clever copy headings such as “The Basics” and “Quick Study” to provide just enough information without being overwhelming. Subtle diagrammatic product illustrations were executed in a spot gloss varnish for a sophisticated, upscale feel. Color coding was introduced in the logo mark and headline copy for quick recognition on the shelf.
Photography: Targeted Casting and Art Direction
Before casting, we prepared four personality profiles for the women we wanted to portray that would best reflect the MUD brand. We considered the age, race and personality of the primary and secondary markets for MUD from our consumer research and created characters that we could cast in the most targeted manner. From there, we executed art direction boards for the shoot day in order to best direct the photographer and models on the end vision for the photography.
The final beauty shots convey honest, approachable beauty with carefully selected expressions to give a sense of each character’s lifestyle. Our models were selected to portray teen through aspirational baby boomer ages to accurately reflect MUD’s target markets; our photographer’s background in beauty and fashion brought an upscale look to the shots. Realistic retouching maintained the accuracy of each demographic for an honest connection to the audience. MUD’s signature grey was used as a backdrop to further connect the shots to the brand.
Branded product photography was created to convey a unique brand personality in instances where the product image had to be the star. A comprehensive art direction phase established the look and feel for the multiple setups prior to the shoot date. The final shots ranged from group shots with the signature brand colors executed with painterly light, to expressive color shots that showed the process of the artistry of make-up.
Printed Collateral: Corporate Brochure/Press Kit
MUD needed a collateral piece that would feature its unique qualities and be flexible enough to use for both buyers and editors. The diagrammatic illustration pattern of the packaging was used through the piece with “get this look” instructions teaching the user how to create the looks featured. A circular die cut element referencing a mirrored compact was used to focus attention on specific parts of the face, highlighting the individual techniques of professional make-up artistry. Authentic, emotional close-up photography of models representing “real women” created an approachable lifestyle feel, contrasting the typical airbrushed models shown in competitors’ materials. Pockets in the back of the piece allowed space for inserting press releases, letters, and additional catalogs.
Printed Collateral: Product Brochure
The product brochure had to feature 160+ SKUs in a clear, easy to understand format for buyers and store customers. Our solution introduced the new MUD categorization system with bold splashes of color acting as tabs, breaking up each section clearly. Approachable close-up photography of “real women” were paired with step-by-step instructions on how to create each look featured. Professional tips and tricks were sprinkled throughout the piece, reinforcing the educational brand positioning.
Advertising: Print Ads
For MUD’s print ads for trade shows and popular make-up publications, a simple and direct approach was taken. Hero product photography was reinforced by copywriting that supported the brand story and educational positioning. Consumer ads featured clean, lifestyle-oriented beauty shots paired with education on how to create the featured look.
Advertising: Promotional Items
MUD needed some giveaway items for use at promotional events to create buzz and advertise the brand. Our solution for the t-shirts, tote bags, and bumper stickers was a simple yet clever headline “I know make-up” paired with the custom illustrations of the products from the cosmetics packaging. The overall effect was a fun, personal twist on MUD’s roots as a leading make-up school.
POP: Product Display
Before, the product display was physically and visually heavy and had a dated look. Our product display solutions featured space-saving ideas and additional space for educational messaging. We also explored a visual division of the line in the product line categories with color coding and separation within the display forms. The proposed solutions were modern and communicated the MUD brand attributes in form and execution.
Winner, American Graphic Design Awards, 2009
Digital Media: Website
The new MUD brand was further executed in the website, where the home page featured a selected look with corresponding products to help the user to quickly find products. Headlines such as “Lip Lessons” and “Eye Know” reinforced the educational positioning and let the user know quickly which category of product was being featured. Clean, simple navigation lead the user through the content and broke down information in a digestible format.
Digital Media: Digital Brand Strategy
Before any work on the social networking began, a comprehensive strategy was developed to identify how to best reach MUD’s target audience online. A thorough audit was conducted to identify opportunities on various social networking portals. Editorial content concepts were also presented as a foundation for implementing the brand message socially.
Digital Media: Social Networking
MUD needed a professional way to interact with their audience in the Web 2.0 world. Through branded Twitter and Facebook pages, we were able to directly communicate with MUD cosmetics customers on a weekly basis with customized content, company news and events, and product specials.
Digital Media: Corporate Blog + Custom YouTube Page
To further communicate the educational brand positioning to the MUD audience, we created a custom corporate blog system. Customers and buyers could become more familiar with MUD’s corporate culture in this freeform environment and interact with direct feedback. A branded YouTube page allowed for a public forum for posting instructional, informative, and compelling videos relevant to make-up artistry, both officially and through the fan community.
Digital Media: Smartphone Apps
All the social networking portals were brought together into branded iPhone, Android, and Blackberry apps that served as a hub for all digital communication between MUD and its fans.
Digital Media: E-Newsletters
A custom branded e-newsletter system was developed to relay quarterly trends to MUD fans and to promote products, sales, specials, and events.
Video: Branded Corporate Video
A corporate video was created to communicate the MUD brand story and to summarize the cosmetics and schools offerings in a succinct way. A custom branded logo into/outro and motion graphics helped to reinforce the brand visually throughout the video.
Video: Motion Graphics Video Series
A series of motion graphics videos brought the advertising campaign to life and further communicated the educational brand positioning by taking the viewer through the process of creating a signature look from start to finish. The heavily branded videos were utilized online and on flat screen televisions in various trade show applications.
Space: Retail Store
Despite the busy foot traffic of downtown Burbank, the old MUD store was unapproachable to the general public. Our first priority was to make the store pop by adding large illuminated signage and bold graphics and photography. A deep grey paint color tied the building into the brand and added a sense of sophistication. Branded graphics, overscaled photography, and a more inviting interior design created a more eye-catching effect at the street level.
For the interior of the store, we focused on making the shopping experience as simple as possible by creating custom displays that enhanced the color-coded categories of product. Soft white hanging panels diffused the light in the space and created privacy in the make-up stations. Instructional graphics conveyed important product information and useful professional tips and tricks for an added educational experience.
Space: Trade Show Booth
Large, bold graphics on the front and side walls and dynamic motion graphics on the flat screen created a strong brand presence for this lightweight, modular, and simple booth design. Seamless shelves allowed for additional storage and a clear area to feature key products.
Space: Modular Retail Store
As the largest make-up school in the nation, education was a large component of Make-Up Designory’s retail partnerships. The MUD Loft concept took this idea to the next level as a unique retail offering that provides customers with products and educational support. The design for the space had to be flexible enough to accommodate any size and type of retail space both domestically and internationally, while embodying the premium quality of the MUD brand. Our solution was a sleek, raw space with custom branded elements and finishings that took cues from an authentic New York loft experience.