The Kiehl’s Brand and Cause Packaging

Cause marketing has evolved from a trend to a staple in brand communications these days. Current research shows that women are more likely to purchase a product if the company gives back to a cause – and it seems that almost every major brand has taken note.

The Kiehl’s brand isn’t new to the idea of cause marketing and packaging. Last year, we included their World AIDS Day Lip Balm in our Beauty Packaging Identity Trends analysis. This particular product benefited YouthAIDS and donated 100% of net profits up to $50,000 to the cause.

With the recent launch of their Acai Damage-Protecting Toning Mist, the apothecary line has teamed up with Malia Jones, Jeff Koons, Julianne Moore, and Pharrell Williams to raise money and awareness for the Rainforest Alliance – 100% of the proceeds will benefit the cause. The idea of pairing a celebrity with a product or brand is no new concept – note Lady Gaga’s recent partnership with Polaroid – but Kiehl’s has taken this one step further by actually placing the brand image in the hands of the participating celebrities as “guest designers.”

On the labels for the new product, each design features unique graphics, typography, and color palettes. It looks like some of the celebrities have chosen to use a template for the type style, and others have gone into completely different directions. The Julianne Moore version (3rd from left) even has a hand-made interpretation of the Kiehl’s logo.

Typically, a successful packaging identity is consistent with the overall brand look and feel to resonate with the audience, and there are formulas in place that are consistent with a brand style guide (ie: the use of specific fonts, colors, etc.). While it is understandable that the celebrity designers were most likely asked to put their personal stamp on the labels, one has to wonder if at least one brand identity standard should have been kept in place – for example, perhaps allowing the celebrities to create a custom background and color palette but keeping the typography consistent may have been a nice compromise between the worlds of fine art and commercial art.

While a great idea and a worthy cause, has Kiehl’s taken it one step too far and diluted their brand identity?

Via LA Times Culture Monster
Image from Kiehls.com