Aesop – an intelligent beauty brand
There is one brand which I really appreciate because they don’t sell and they don’t YELL. You won’t see them sponsoring the Super Bowl halftime show, there are no articles about their last hype marketing campaign, no celebrity brand ambassadors, no photoshopped pictures, no models, no adds. They just don’t yell. They don’t even whisper, they are waiting for you to discover and learn their mute language. And if you don’t… They don’t care, because maybe you are not their cup of tea. It’s Aesop, also called ‘an intelligent beauty brand’.
It was founded by the Australian Greek – Dennis Paphitis in Melbourne in late 80s. He said the reason why he started a beauty company is because he wasn’t patient enough to be a philosopher, nor tolerant enough to be an architect. But this book worm and passionate philosophy lover’s spirit is embodied into beauty brand. His love for literature can be seen in quotes placed in every touchpoint of the brand – on product labels, in stores, scented brochures… Mr. Paphitis sums up his brand: “I’ve always imagined what we do as the equivalent of a weighty, gold charm bracelet on the tanned wrist of a glamourous, well-read European woman who has traveled a lot and collected interesting expiriences.”
Their cosmetic products for skin, body and hair made out of various herbs and packed into the unpretentious, pharmacy-like, brown bottles and metal tubes, look like a modern interpretation of the Victorian laboratory. But you can’t just buy a cold-cream and wait to become a person form your last ID card, because Aesop are not beauty junkies who promise you an eternal beauty. Instead, they advise you to use their products as part of a balanced life that includes a healthy diet, sensible exercise, a moderate intake of red wine and a regular dose of stimulating literature.
They got me a few years ago, when I started following retail design of their stores. There are over the 100 stores http://taxonomyofdesign.com/#!/stores all over the world and each one is completely different, but with recognisable Aesop signature. Aesop didn’t want to evolve into a soulless chain, so they collaborated with various architects and designers who make a locally relevant store design. A witty example is a temporary Aesop kiosk in NY, at the Grand Central Station which was made of 1000 copies of New York Times.
Aesop kiosk – New York / Grand Central Station, source Dezeen: Juliana Sohn, photographer
And then came the moment when I decided to reward myself with tiny few-mililiter bottle – but they stopped me. They don’t advise you to buy their products before you have talked to their staff who will advise you on how to improve your nutrition or how the local climate affect your skin and hair.
As their target group are connoisseurs, sophisticated intellectuals running away from their showy, nouveau rich antipodes, Aesop decided to reward its silent groupies by creating The Fabulist, the bimonthly magazine about great food, book recommendations, interviews with interesting, free-minded people and so on. What’s really important is that The Fabulist is not a classic corporate content which has a purpose to sell you the products, but they really want to share things they love with their customers.