Is being “serious” the only way to be successful?

Does Brand DNA have to be serious to be successful?  Have you noticed how usually luxury brands use serious and almost shady approaches in communicating their brand DNA?

Let’s make a premise. Obviously we have to consider cross cultural advertising differences when communicating brand values and DNA. Basically, every culture has different approaches and preferences when it comes to communication and advertising. For example, in China color is very appreciated, whereas in Finland a more sober approach is appreciated; and again, in USA humor is more used, while in Europe we are still quite serious when advertising, even though we are opening up a bit more now.

Having said this, although the majority of people, especially in some cultures, thinks being “very serious” in communication (using few words, neutral colors etc.) means being a professional and reliable brand, some brands are using a countercurrent approach.

A great example of this is Benefit Cosmetics.


Benefit Cosmetics operates in the $382 billion global beauty business. The Company was founded in 1976 San Francisco and is now one of the fastest growing cosmetic brands selling at over 3,000 counters in 35 countries under the LVMH Group (since 1999). The main competitors of Benefit Cosmetics are L’Oreal, Estee Lauder and The Body Shop. However the branding and marketing strategies are different.


Benefit Cosmetics revenues have tripled in past five years, and the brand is on track to go beyond the $1 billion mark according to a Women’s Wear Daily report. Named ‘Genius’ for the first time in the Digital IQ Index®: Beauty report among international heavy-weights Lancôme and  Estée Lauder, the brand has combined savvy social media tactics and strong on-the-ground presence for domestic and international success.

Since it was founded the brand has communicated a very strong verbal and non-verbal brand DNA based on colors, fun, vintage girly style and play on words.  Their first shop was decorated like a candy store and specialized in cosmetic quick fixes for ladies. Thanks to word of mouth it grew quickly in California, and spread around the world.  Obviously, the brand had a precise marketing journey, starting from the stores, to advertising strategy, to social networking strategy to clients engagement. The company, also donates a portion of proceeds to charity, boasts products that have clever names and pin-up lasses. Benefit sells its lines and offers facial services through more than 3,000 counters (called “Beauty Bars”).


Benefit Cosmetics is a “fun” Californian brand, however, the language of humor is always considered a local culture and hard to translate.  Despite this, the desire for happiness seems to be universal and appreciated everywhere,beneselfie so the brand is having success transmitting its DNA, and this is confirmed by results in social networks and sales: A study from NYU Stern School of Business ranked Benefit Cosmetics as one of the top 10 luxury brands with the highest Facebook IQ. On L2 the daily blog Intelligence Report: Instagram, Benefit is a leader with 11,900 posts with the hashtag#realsies promoting its They’re Real mascara.

Moreover, on the ground, Benefit has boutiques and brow bars globally that solidify its brand.  Benefit is now one of the most popular makeup brands in China (Top 4) .  An example of how they implement a tactful strategy is the

benefit1following: on the day after Saint Patricks’ Day, Benefit delivered “hangover cure packages” to San Francisco residents who tweeted at the brand with the hashtag #LuckyBoost.

Today,  the brand is shifting its digital marketing strategy to focus on engagement, rather than sales, and linking up its offline and online message as it looks to prove the beauty industry can be fun, rather than intimidating.

Benefit is not leader in the luxury cosmetic industry, but certainly is successful and has a strong presence thanks to their different strategy : colorful and fin Brand DNA, strong social network presence, particular shops.

So, after this brief case study on Benefit brand and marketing strategy, what do you think about this approach? Do you still think being fun and transmitting colorful, playful values is less professional than communicating a serious brand DNA?

benefitPerhaps the world is now changing and wants more positive and “light” values in this society?

Hopefully , after this post, you will have a wider perspective to evaluate this topic which many people often underestimate, and maybe analyze other brands and build your own opinion.


Benefit Cosmetics Revenues Triple

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