The Benefit of Branding

Benefit Cosmetics holds the heart of nearly every single makeup fanatic from San Francisco to Singapore. They’re “playful personality and fun loving DNA” has captured the imagination of many across the world and has taken the brand from a small make up shop in downtown San Francisco, to an internationally recognised beauty powerhouse.  As a Benefit fan myself, I have always been enamoured with their whimsical nature and quirky spirit, and of course this has prompted me to not only fall in love with them, but their products too.

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So what is the Benefit secret? I believe it lies not only within their strong Brand Image, but also their Brand’s powerful Personality. The two, I feel, are very different marketing concepts that Benefit have captured flawlessly. They also complement each other beautifully. Brand Image relates to a consumer’s perception of a particular brand and the products they sell. It is an impression created by the consumer based on associations to that brand. These associations are either physical or visual, and automatically trigger a response within consumers; they recognise it immediately.

For Benefit, they have cultivated a strong brand image. They are instantly recognisable from the italic ‘f’ in their logo, to the boutique style outfit of their concession stands and stand-alone stores. Co-founders of Benefit, Jane and Jean Ford, said they wanted their stores to look like candy shops for makeup, but they also wanted to encapsulate the small, intimate, neighbourhood feel of their inaugural store, “The Face Place”; a throwback to the brands humble beginnings. Their image is captured in their candy striped wallpaper, in their old world, boudoir style vanity tables, in their vintage-look photo frames that adorn every display shelf. This image is further enhanced through their packaging, with antique style lipstick tubes and perfume bottles to makeup kits disguised as classical books.

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Everything is visually strong and tangible, creating a brand experience that is distinctive to Benefit. It is this experience that creates the impression; a perception or image in the consumer’s mind of what it is Benefit stands for. When we look to Brand personality however, we are looking beyond the perceived image of the brand; to something that is neither physical nor visual. Brand personality is intangible. Simply defined as a set of human characteristics that are attributed to a brand name; personality traits that a target market can recognise within themselves and aspire to perfect. According to Jennifer Aaker, there are 5 dimensions of brand personality; Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication and Ruggedness. Each dimension can be further split into sub dimensions; those sub dimensions, in turn, measured by a set of character traits. For example, the dimension of Sincerity would contain character traits like wholesome, cheerful or down to earth.

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For Benefit, the personality dimension that I think describes them the best would be excitement. This dimension contains character traits such as daring, spirited and imaginative. When you think of these traits it pretty much sums up Benefit as a brand. They are daring in the sense that they are bold and audacious; not afraid to take risks. Spirited in the sense that they are fun loving and full of whimsy. Imaginative in the sense that they are artistic and creative in every aspect of what they do, you can see this directly through their brand imaging.

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Benefit’s personality has shone bright through many different outlets. We can see it through Spy Gal, Benefit’s very own Superhero who fronts their Porefessional product. Benefit actually teamed up with Marvel Comics to create the very first beauty inspired superhero, “She’s smooth, she’s sexy and she’s your secret weapon against pores!” Brand personality also shines through in their use of light-hearted and humorous slogans, examples include, “if at first you don’t succeed, apply more lipstick” and their tagline “laughter is the best cosmetic”.

Brand Personality, unlike Brand image, is supposed to evoke emotion in consumers. They must be able to see traits of themselves within the characteristics of the brand itself. I think Benefit have been very successful in creating and maintaining their Brand Personality. The way that Benefit speaks and behaves towards its target audience has allowed them to differentiate themselves from other leading cosmetics brands, which in turn enhances consumer experience and adds additional value to the brand as a whole.

If your not already a fan (doubtful!), or you just fancy another dive into the wonderful world of Benefit Cosmetics, follow the link!

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