March Focus: J+L Apothecary Branding Refresh

When we fully committed to J+L Apothecary (JLA) as a product line, it was imperative we clearly create its own iconic brand image. Forus, it needed to be something that captured two key elements of the brand: skin and hair essentials (basics), and be gender neutral.

We took some time looking through the history of modern person care branding. The 1950s was a big change for the marketplace. Many popular products that are household names to this day can trace their origins back to this time. Much like our branding of J&L Pogonotrophics, that evokes the early 1900s with being the last era where men having facial hair was commonplace, we felt that the ’50s was an ideal era to reflect in our branding.

Another time period that had a major impact on the original design for our labeling was the 1980s and the ‘Generic Brands” of the day. A very minimalist, monochromatic style that was heavy on direct and to the point text. With the 1950’s being light on color and images for packaging, mix that with the 1980’s generics with bold text and simplicity, we feel we created something that openly communicated “basics” and not force an engendered appearance.

As you can see above, we went super simple with naming, text style and color. Text was bold, information was minimal and there was as minimal color. When we used color, it was in two ways, to identify a product category, or to highlight variants of a product. The color band that was the highlight for the Brand name subtly noted whether it was a soap, skin care product or hair care product. We didn’t openly communicate that little detail to consumers as we liked hearing the “Aha!” moment when it was figured out.

For our brand refresh we are executing this year we did not want to lose touch on many of those key components, but it was obvious we needed to improve our labels to be more eye catching. With our transition to white or clear bottles and jars, our previous style was less appealing.

The color coding was retained and is still used to denote product category. Gone is most of the white space, to be filled with a coding color gradient. Text remains bold and is more consistently used. Scale of text sets product and variation names apart from helpful product information, which is new to our labels.

With our new look, our product names are more prominent, our brand name is less pronounced and more strategically placed for clarity. Smaller text calls our key features and ingredients. Color is more comforting by use of a gradient that transitions from bold to white.

Testing of this new look was well received. People liked sharpness of the product name being out front. The additional information provided helps one perform a quick comparison to determine if the item will suit their needs. Ingredients are generally on the left; use and maker information to the right. Reviewers felt this was more modern yet very much held to our brand values.

Over the course of this year you will see this branding roll out to more and more products. First we need to move through current inventory of produced goods as well as current label stock. Some products feature above, are still in development but should be launching soon. Also, some items are seeing a minor tweak to their name to better reflect their uses. For example, HAND + BODY LOTION is now called FACE, HANDS + BODY lotion to help customers know that it can also be used on their face with great results. We call it FHB for short, and it will be a featured product on our Facebook page this coming Saturday.

Please comment or share your thoughts with us, it is always great to hear from you.

March Focus: J&L APOTHECARY

We have selected this March to focus on the J&L Apothecary brand. Since its launch in June of 2017 it has grown to be a bigger beast than J&L Pogonotrophics in the variety of products we offer. Compared to our foundational Beard Care Brand, J&L Apothecary is rather young. In the last year it has really taken on a life of its own; making it the right time to freshen it up and let more people learn about it.

Built on the same principles as J&L Pognotrophics, the items we make are intended to be as natural as possible, free is gimmicks, perform very well and be a better value than most other “specialty” brands. We started J&L Apothecary to satisfy a growing demand for more products that were outside of caring for a beard or facial hair. We were already making soaps and lotions, which were attracting women and non-bearded men. The one detail that we needed to manage is the fact that Pogonotrophics literally means “beard – care”. How do we embrace all those other people who like all these other skin and body products? Easily, we change the name of the brand for all those items that are not for facial hair.

First order of business was to broaden our variety of fragrances to appeal to more people. Although our J&L Pognotrophics scents were not all stereotypically “masculine” scents, there plainly was not enough depth of options to appeal to those that like softer, floral or fruit scents.

Once we pulled together some familiar and some truly unique scents, it was time to grow the product offerings. Within the first year we added more clay masks, more lotions, all new bar soaps, and more. In our second year we added a more specialized line of daily facial products such as toner, face wash and a hyaluronic serum. All of these have done very well for us so far.

Q: Why do we need to focus on it J+L APOTHECARY if it is doing well?

A: With its diverse options in multiple categories of personal care and grooming, it has the potential to become bigger than our J&L POGONOTROPHICS line. Where Beard Care has a very specific demographic, everything we offer with J+L APOTHECARY is beneficial to our existing customers and can easily bring us new customers. Since its inception, J+L APOTHECARY has started to rival its bearded brother. Now we wish to push it ahead, and make sure everyone knows about all that it offers. Even if J+L APOTHECARY takes over and far exceeds J&L POGONOTROPHICS, we will not ignore our foundational line of products. We certainly will not drop it. In fact, there are some new things coming to keep it thriving. J&L POGONOTROPHICS will always be our most male focused line.

Learning more about our market and the behavior of shoppers, we have identified a hurdle that we feel is holding J+L APOTHECARY back to some degree. There seems to me a lack of awareness and understanding of the brand; and what differentiates it from the rest.

  1. Many women believe we are only making products for men, specifically bearded men. That was only true of us within the first 6 to 9 months. Early on we had products that women and the follicle-ly challenged enjoyed.
  2. Many of our male customers that are aware of J&L Apothecary, think it is our “women’s line”. That is very much not true. ALL of the dozens of products we make as J&L Apothecary are gender neutral – intended for use on every body regardless of gender or gender identity. The reason a product appeals to you should be two things; how it appeals to your senses and how well it will perform the job it is designed for. If you like the way it smells, feels and works then what else genuinely matters other than price?
  3. Men that are aware of J&L Apothecary and it being gender neutral, still are fearful of skin care. Either they don’t know where to begin or what products they may need. It is a huge myth that men, in general, do not have an interest in taking care of their skin. The issue is, the vast amount of information out there is not presented to men in places they would find it.

A little more about Reason #3:

Our industry, cosmetics and beauty products, has been innately geared towards women. With that comes marketing, sales and product features solely directed towards women as they are seen as the solitary user of most products or are the decision maker behind the purchasing for their family. Today, there are a full spectrum of personal, home and family dynamics that makes that approach outdated and even sexist.

If you don’t think they are talking to you, you are likely to tune them out. That is a key reason why men are lost in the forest when it comes to personal care products. Right now, when you look at advertisements for body wash, you will see that they are either aiming towards specifically either women, men or kids/family. Packaging, fragrances and the entire presentation targets on specifically one of those categories. For general products, we feel the marketing should have a much more broad approach; work towards speaking to everybody with a focus on the product’s benefits. The marketing directing towards men plays to tired tropes about it making your more masculine as well as more appealing to women. Another misguided tactic, is to make a solitary product to everything for a man; as if they don’t wish to be bothered with taking care of themselves.

In additional posts during this month, we wish to go into our approach with packaging and marketing. From there we will highlight our most popular products with a focus on their ingredients, uses and characteristics. All in an effort to bring more attention to this growing brand. During the entire month of March, we will also offer coupon discounts so you can save 20% on any of our J+L APOTHECARY products. We hope to you follow us to learn more about these great products for your skin and hair.