After 25 years in advertising and branding, when I look at a store, I see more than shelves. I see a gallery—the collective work of countless designers. I see a battleground—every brand fighting for space and attention. I see shapes and colors and symbols that have mere seconds to work their magic. So, when a brand captures my attention, I know it’s doing something right.
That’s what happened recently as I was shopping at my local Target and saw the Flamingo line of shaving products. Its packaging is minimal and sleek, using modern colors in soft lavender and pomegranate, combined with distinctive logotype—in short, it stands out in a tired category as fresh and innovative.
Flamingo markets to women so well that it might surprise you to learn that it’s a registered trademark of men’s shaving brand Harry’s, which experienced atmospheric success after it was founded in March 2013. In fact, Harry’s was so successful at rebranding men’s razors in an approachable and relatable way that in September, Edgewell, which owns legacy brand Schick, bought the company for $1.37 Billion.
From the beginning, Harry’s wanted to develop a female-centered brand. One of its chief officers told Adweek that it was “one of our most requested items since we launched.” So, Allie Melnick and Brittania Boey, two original Harry’s team members, were charged with bringing Flamingo to life with a mixture of thoughtful insights and eye-catching looks. Women often shave in the shower, so the handle had to be slip-proof. Women also tend to shave more areas of their bodies, so the blade had to be more adjustable. They also offer wax strips—another way some women chose to remove body hair.
With two women at the helm, Flamingo approached the female shaving category differently. “What we didn’t want to do is just slap something like pink coloring and call it a day,” Melnik said, echoing the idea that antiquated ways of appealing to women are just that—antiquated.
Today’s female consumer isn’t looking for pinks and purples, flowers and tiara’s, they want authenticity—brands that understand them beyond traditional femininity. Getting it right can mean big returns. Women control over $20 trillion in worldwide spending. In most households, women are the primary shoppers—deciding what makes it into the cart and what stays on the shelf.
As the retail landscape is changing along with female consumers, thoughtful branding can help you break away from the pack. See how Flamingo does it in every part of their design (colors, shapes, symbols and words), the colors are unique and modern, the logo is distinctive and memorable, and the brand has a storyline, a reason for being. Flamingo “embraces women’s natural bodies (bumps, dry skin, body hair, and all), dispelling the myth of ‘feminine perfection,’ creating a judgment-free space made for education and candid conversation.”
Consumers, particularly women, look for exactly these kinds of cues when making purchasing decisions. Investing in and empowering women isn’t just smart branding, it’s also smart business. Empirical research by Morgan Stanley’s Sustainable + Responsible Investment (SRI) and Global Quantitative Research groups showed that gender equitable teams have higher ROE than non-equitable teams.
Empowering women in branding starts at the retail level but should travel to the very top. I think Flamingo’s success has everything to do with the women that lead it. This embodies my mantra “successful brands are about the people behind them” So hats off to Melnik and Boey and every woman in branding.
Originally published in Branders Magazine, November 2019