Global News | Sep 25, 2020

Brand new: The brains behind Avon’s brand refresh

The brains behind Avon’s brand refresh

Welcome to Brand New: the interview series introducing you to the masterminds behind our new brand positioning. This team of brand masters are sharing their stories; how their work has helped transform Avon’s brand so we can become the one that no one saw coming. #WatchMeNow

Episode 1: James Chittenden, global creative leader

James, you and your team led the makeover so can we go right back to the beginning and learn why we decided to refresh the brand?

Avon is brand people around the world know and love, after all, we’ve been doing beauty differently and transforming women’s lives for over 130 years. But for the 2020s, there was less love for our branding. The logo felt quite 1980s – not right for the age of activism. Everything needed a refresh.

But we wanted to do more than just give a new coat of paint to the old house. We wanted to treat the brand reinvention like moving into a brand new, custom-built home. So, everything extended out of our new brand positioning, and the acknowledgement of the power of beauty to transform lives.

How did you go about refreshing the identity of a brand with so much heritage?

All of the brand identity work was done in a very considered way. We were very careful to build on and improve what we already had. It’s about being bolder, more confident and better reflecting the Avon of today to reenergise all the existing love and respect for our company as well as attracting new people into our brand. It’s evolution, not revolution.

Where did you take inspiration from?

There are lots of amazing little details in the new identity that very few people will ever notice, but they all make me smile. Like the new logo including some curves that hark back to the (very, very different) first Avon logo from 1930. Or the fact that the new colour gradient isn’t point-to-point, but more organic, based on the curves of a woman’s face. All of this might sound irrelevant, or frivolous, but I like to think it means we show up as a more human brand even if it is just subconsciously.

What happened during the creative process?

We worked with Bloom, a branding agency in London, to develop the new identity. The brief to them was to not alienate existing Reps and consumers, but to focus on modernising the brand to bring in a new (or lapsed) audience. We tested four routes, and the one you see now was the resounding winner in all markets. Again, I think it’s subconscious, but there’s something really lovely about having a female type designer (a field that still remains largely male-dominated) work on the new logo for the brand which has stood up for women for over 130 years.

Of course, it’s not just how our brand looks too but how we talk. What did you consider when revamping the tone of voice?

Finding a unique voice and viewpoint is essential to cut-through in a world dominated by big personalities. There’s so much amazing stuff that Avon does in the community that we, as associates, all know about, but the consumer doesn’t because we haven’t shouted about it. The new tone of voice – first person., dripping in personality and opinion – gives the opportunity, and permission really, to be more loud-and-proud. It’s still warm and inclusive – this is Avon, after all – but we’re definitely more challenging now.

How do you think a brand refresh will help us drive growth?

Everything we’ve been doing has been to drive brand reappraisal – a marketing term for getting people to reconsider what they think of Avon. We have a super-loyal customer base but we need to bring in new consumers. Whether it be the new brand identity or the new ‘watch me now’ positioning movement, everything has been specifically developed to appeal to those new consumers. We all know the products are great, and that our brand stands for something you can believe in. So, all we need to do is get the world to notice us again. Sounds easy, right?  The key for us is mobilising our network of 5million across more than 50 countries – that’s a reach you can’t buy, of trusted, personal recommendations.

Where does Watch Me Now come in?

The brief simple, but a huge task: get non-Avon consumers to think differently about us. We felt confident that if we could get this audience to just consider us, our products, prices, and the way we democratise beauty, we would seal-the-deal.

The solution was so simple, but genius. Acknowledging that we have been underestimated, but that we’ve moved beyond that to still succeed. The most compelling stories of winning are never about being at the top of the mountain looking down, they are about the journey to get there.

The idea (“I’m the one you didn’t see coming, and now you can’t look away”) works for the Avon brand, for our Reps across all our markets, for the women that our donations support, and our great value, cutting-edge-but-accessible products.

Let’s finish with a little bit about you … have you ever been the underdog or been underestimated? What’s your Watch Me Now story?

Oh, I think everyone is constantly underestimated by people around them – it’s what makes ‘watch me now’ so universal. But it’s acknowledging the journey that makes the stories so compelling. For me, off-the-top of my head, it was “can’t become a credible creative without formal training”; yes, I could – and went on to own a very successful boutique agency, thank you very much. “Can’t do luxury when you’re from a working-class background in South London”; well actually, I could – and won awards for it. Or even closer to home, “can’t do beauty when you’re a white, (now) middle-class, middle-aged man.” Although maybe the jury is still out on that one…!