Fashion’s Brave New World.

The words fashion and sustainability do not exactly go hand in hand. Fast fashion accounts for ten percent of the world’s carbon emissions and is the second largest consumer of the world’s water supply. The harsh reality is that any form of consumerism can have negative impacts for the environment, with up to 80% of unwanted textile items ending up in landfills (source). So how can fashion brands do their part to help reduce the impact of their practice so we can all feel better about the clothes we buy and have confidence in where they come from, and where they will go from here. And while we implore business owners to do this work from a desire to not further fuel the climate crises it is also more important than ever to consider sustainable practice from a business standpoint, with 67% of fashion buyers willing to pay more for an eco-friendly product (source). It is becoming integral to successful business that sustainable practice is championed as consumer awareness increases and audiences begin to not only expect but demand that brands do better. The consumer of the future is climate savvy and is looking to fashion retailers to provide them the confidence to put their dollar towards a better future. 

 

Here are our top five tips for a more sustainable fashion brand: 

 

Show us what you’re made of  

Consumers today want to know exactly what they are purchasing. By sourcing climate friendly materials you can ensure the sustainability of the product itself. As the number of sustainable material options are growing making it easier than ever to access an array of suitable textiles. Even big brands such as Zara, although still miles away from perfect on the sustainability scale, have taken to utilsing vegan leather made from pineapple leaves. Another powerhouse material is Hemp, producing more fibre per acre than cotton, requires less water to grow and is biodegradable at the end of its life. As the eco friendly material options grow so does the opportunity to be transparent about how your products are made and engage environmentally minded audiences. 

 

Rewire how we approach packaging 

Packaging is often the most harmful type of waste as it is single use and often involves unnecessary plastic that is impossible to recycle! When reconsidering the textiles your product is made of it is equally as important to address the packaging it is delivered in. Some sustainable packaging options include Banana Paper, Stone Paper, Mushroom Packaging, Sugar Cane Paper and Promeg. Each of these options are granted the sustainable tick of approval for being biodegradable after use, using less water and emitting less CO2 to be created. Once you have secured the appropriate material to ensure your clothes get where they are going safe and sound, it is always important to consider how minimally you can package it up in order to save resources. Remember to include information on how your customer can best dispose of their packaging waste, bonus points for using a QR code digital format and saving paper! 

 

Championing a circular economy 

Overconsumption is one of the biggest sustainability issues that the fashion industry faces. Fashion brands are urged to help consumers hold onto and continue using their products for extended periods of time whether this be by offering repairs to old stock or allowing for old styles to be repurposed. A great new way to assist consumers in doing this is by providing digital garment passports. A digital garment passport is a QR code tag on clothing that enables the product to be tracked through its lifecycle and allows for instructions for resale and recycling (source). This gives brands the opportunity to provide consumers with best practice when it comes to disposing of garments and promote return and recycle programs where old stock can be reused. Digital garment passports can also allow for greater transparency between brands and consumers as some organisations opt to include material, production and transportation information. Offering customers a repair and recycle program when shopping with your brand can help them increase the lifespan of their item and allow them to feel good about future purchases. 

 

Carbon Neutral + Carbon Positive

There are increasingly more and more programs available to help businesses offset their carbon emissions. Fashion brand Citizen Wolf has taken this incentive onboard and proudly makes sustainably carbon negative t-shirts. For every tshirt sold Citizen Wolf offset the CO2 emitted through New Leaf Project who are rewilding forest habitats in Tasmania. A Citizen Wolf tshirt also creates 48% CO2 emissions than a regular fashion tshirt and as they only make shirts to order, waste is completely minimised. Some brands are also offering carbon neutral shipping by offsetting these emissions, ensuring that environmental impact is considered at every stage of the product journey. 

 

Could your product be made to order? 

A recent trend among smaller retailers is to make products on demand after the product has been purchased. This model is a god send to the sustainable fashion effort as it results in no deadstock waste. An astonishing 2/3 of all clothing made globally every year ends up in landfill within 12 months with 30% of the clothing made by fashion retailers never expected to sell in the first place. The fast fashion industry cashes in on trend cycles that can come and go in just a few weeks before they are discarded and move on to the next thing. Made to order items can cut out this large proportion of waste that occurs before the product even leaves the retailer. 

 

Put your money where your mouth is

It can feel like almost every brand has some sort of sustainability promise, but how many of these are truly impactful is hard to decipher. Greenwashing is a term coined to describe when an organisation makes a claim to be environmentally conscious for marketing purposes but does little to actually deliver on these claims. One way to avoid greenwashing is by getting organisations on board to help keep you accountable.  1% For The Planet is a certification granted to businesses that donate at least 1% of overall profits to environmental causes. This is a great way to keep your business accountable, give back to a cause of your choosing and gain a reputable certification for your efforts. A similar organisation is One Tree Planted, where businesses can plant one tree for each product or service sold for one dollar. Utilising organisations such as these allow you to champion your sustainability efforts in a credible and effective way. 

Sustainability should no longer be an afterthought but rather the benchmark that all brand decisions are built from, and consumer expectations are reflective of this. 

To create a solid following with unshakeable loyalty, brands need to leverage every opportunity they can to showcase their engagement with the big problems that matter to consumers most, and the climate crisis is a big part of that. The sustainable fashion market is predicted to reach $9.81 billion by 2025 and $15.17 billion in 2030 as consumers look to put their dollar where their conscience is (source). Any of the above is a great place to start but should not be undertaken in solidarity but rather as a step towards an overarching conscious fueled foundation. 

 

The Future of Fashion with Bianca Gregg of Del Rainbow

Fast Fashion is responsible for two thirds of the earth’s landfill and produces more carbon emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

This impact is huge, and consumers are demanding change. We spoke to Bianca Gregg, Co Founder and Director of Del Rainbow about what she believes the future of sustainable fashion looks like and how brands must step up to the plate.

 

How did Del Rainbow come to be?

My journey to creating Del Rainbow was certainly guided by my higher self, as all paths truly did lead me here. I am a huge believer in the universe guiding our path when we trust the process. I hold a connection with all brands under our Del Rainbow ‘arc’, truly understanding every inch of who they are and why they do what they do. I began working in fashion over a decade ago, working as a stylist for magazines, where I quickly realised I wanted to get more involved ‘behind the scenes’ with the brands I was working with, and stepped into the showroom world. Almost immediately, I was involved in many facets of the industry; global sales, brand management, PR, marketing, distribution, manufacturing, brand development, all alongside creating our own in-house product. This transparency allowed me to develop my own unique vision for the changes that I felt the industry needed, and how to best support brands through making them.

Having insight into the mass production arena and being in a role that is based on selling more of something, I wanted to ensure I was also doing this with purpose and connecting others with brands who are doing better in the world across the three pillars of social, environmental, and economic.

Essentially this business was born from a passion to create change and stand behind others, championing them and their ability to be and do great things; alongside doing this myself. Four years on, Del Rainbow is a thriving Global Wholesale, Logistics and Brand Consultancy Agency based in Byron Bay, servicing worldwide.

 

Was sustainability always at the heart of your mission when creating Del Rainbow or was it something that developed along the way?

Sustainability was always at the heart of Del Rainbow as we believe that first and foremost sustainability is driven from a space of creating intentionally and purposefully. This is at the foundation of our business.

We have an ethics statement that we all live and breathe, it leads the way we operate within the wholesale sphere, and that is ‘people, purpose, then product’.

Product is a by-product of who you are, what you stand for and what you will. From here, it naturally developed very quickly as we began to become more knowledgeable in the sustainability space where we began to really dive deep into covering the three key tiers (environmental, social, and economic) within our business and our clients as we have worked so closely with them to develop these areas and set a standard that is truly leading the way within the industry. I have always been very passionate about this, I would often say to brands and buyers alike that there is no other way, we cannot sell or create more of this if it is not created from this space when it is readily available.

It is a very powerful market where we can encourage buyers to be connecting with product that is considered from these three elements to give them the opportunity to marry luxury with sustainability and bring this forward to their platform, community, and messaging. When we can encourage our brands to operate from this space and continue to flow and change as more innovation becomes available, it allows companies, buyers, manufacturers, fabric suppliers, designers etc to all be driven to operate from this space, offering the result in the broader community having ability to connect with something deeper and more meaningful.

 

Can fashion ever be sustainable? What does the term ‘sustainable fashion’ mean to you?

As a whole, No. Nothing that is ever being consumed and consistently produced can ever be truly sustainable. However, in the highest consumption industry in the world, it is our duty to operate from a considered space and be innovative. There is no other option. I do not believe there should be any brand being supported or continued to be purchased that is not changing the way they operate from considered practices, materials, ethics, human social compliance, and their base environmental impact. One of the largest impacts that I feel really hits home for people are the facts on water usage (and agricultural impact) from a regular cotton t-shirt compared to a GOTS certified organic cotton t-shirt. Every company and employees at all levels must be educated.

How can we possibly continue to make the same choices, or feel ethically ok to do so, if we are aware of the impact? The conscious alternative is readily available.

Sustainable Fashion to me means accessible, inclusive, transparent, and connected. If you don’t want to shout from the rooftops a certain element of a style journey, then there is an issue, so change it so that you can, proudly. Not only this but accredited practices from human social compliance to the accreditation of both the factory and the material used, this is the only way to measure and audit. When the community demands more from the brands they love or decide to ‘purchase’ elsewhere, there won’t’ be other options. The consumer is the one who has the power to make the change.

The whole garment needs to be considered, every inch from seam to stitch, not just one or two elements. I want to see the care label, the branding labels, the thread, the dyeing, material sourcing all considered. It is a chain, and the energetic properties carry through every level of this. All ends of supply chain should be aligned to truly state that we are on an ethical approach within the company. This is how brands and sustainable fashion hold everyone accountable and pushes all ends to continue to elevate.

 

Where have you implemented the biggest impact points within your business?

Del Rainbow aims to lead by example. We care about this planet, what we do, who we work with, what we create and want to ensure that this all stems from the foundation of purpose, responsible and ethical practices. We can see the impact by educating, encouraging, supporting, and passionately connecting people with the greater purpose. We know that we work in an industry that can make a significant change in the world – it is our choice whether that’s positive or negative.

We have been an entirely Carbon Neutral company since 2018. We donate 1% of annual revenue to selected charities through 1% For The Planet, every purchase in Del Rainbow Store plants a tree and contributes donations to charities via i=change and multiple donations we make annually to other organisations we hold close to our hearts. As a company we all care deeply about a healthy, sustainable planet and we do not shy away from supporting this financially.

Del Moment is an area that we are really excited about as this is our challenge to create an educational brand that promotes transparency and consideration of every movement of the journey, which you can view on site. We cover every tier of sustainability so thoroughly and it is just the beginning.

Our huge impact, though, is in our service offering where we work collaboratively with our partners to cultivate changes within their businesses at the foundational level of sustainability where these shifts, have huge knock-on effects in the supply chain. We also strongly educate our buying partners and retailers all year round on sustainability and what our brand partners are doing, these conversations and information allow collaborative impact.

 

What would be your top 3 suggestions for fashion brands wanting to do better in terms of sustainability?

The three tiers I recommend reviewing are the environmental, economic, and social. These three areas simplify sustainability and allow you to really hone in to your targets and goals.

The Environmental tier covers your consideration of environment and your impact. For a short overview, the environmental space covers considered materials from fibre, trims to packaging (such as regenerative fibres like Repreve®, Econly®, GRS recycled, innovative technology or innovating all elements within the garment to consider all fibre percentage, responsibly created such as GOTS certified, Tencel Lenzing Certified, Ecovero, bio-based, TERRYL®). The way these materials are created i.e water usage, water catchments recycling water, energy usage, agricultural impact on crops chemical usages water usage. Certifications in place within the creation of these fibres such as FSC, OEKO TEX Standard 100, GRS, GOTS, European Flax.

The social element focuses on compliance. It is ensuring that you have a supplier code of conduct in place. Who you partner with and support should also align with your company values and you can grow with them to achieve this. It is important to have a strong education surrounding social compliance, business accreditations and auditing and ensuring these are in place. Most importantly a global living wage standard is paid.

The Economic tier focuses on give back, partnership giveback, charitable organisations, alignment with notable partners such as 1% For The Planet, ensuring that you are putting back into the world and community form the profit made from its resources.

 

What are the key trends you are seeing amongst consumers that gives you hope for the future?

I think the biggest trend is that consumers are hungry for transparency. This is the one trend that gives me hope as it ensures that brands are held accountable to begin looking within at their practices and approach.

Its consumers who have all of the power, and we need to be calling this out. In the fashion industry at a broader scale, it is so heavily trend operated that companies cannot risk being left behind, so therefore this push for transparency and desire to be educated by the brands that we support is what will drive vast change in future. With this, it ensures that brands are vocal about their choices within practice and material choices and therefore lends to better practice and materials being purchased by these brands. Consumers are starting to really understand how brand operate, how product is created and becoming more accustomed to certain material choices- this demand is what will foster change as it truly is non-negotiable.

 

What does the future of fashion look like?

Innovative, purposeful, accountable, intentional.

 

Balancing Motherhood and Business, with Mumli

As a female founded business, Smack Bang has always sought to empower working mothers and obliterate stigma traditionally bestowed to mummas who value both their career and their role as a mum.

To celebrate Mothers Day this year we spoke to Melanie Corlett, the founder behind Mumli, an app that helps you collect, save and share information and treasured moments throughout your motherhood journey, about her own journey with motherhood and how she balances being a mum and running a business.

Who is Mumli for? How did you come up with the concept behind the app?

Mumli is for all mums! We are currently focused on developing content and features for women brand-new to motherhood, but plan to expand that resource base to all stages as we evolve and grow our team.

The idea for Mumli came about when I had my daughter nearly 4 years ago. There was an overwhelmingly large amount of information thrown at me, and no way of knowing what was relevant, what to do with it and then, ultimately, how to make the best decision. After speaking to hundreds of mums across Australia and the US we quickly learnt that this problem was not unique to me. Every single mum expressed the pain of the “mental load” and the overwhelm of information and opinions. Mums are very much involved in every aspect of our product development and are at the core of why Mumli has been such a gamechanger for this market.

 

How do you “balance” motherhood and business?

I definitely don’t have a set formula for this!! It tends to be very instinctive and day-by-day. There are days my kids need me more, and days where my business needs me more. Over time I like to think I’ve got better at balancing the two, but I think this will forever be a work in progress! The most important thing will always be my babies and if something has to take a backseat – it will never be them.

 

How do you celebrate motherhood in your day to day life?

Motherhood is incredible. I’ve never felt more connected to other women than through this shared experience. I get to witness that every day with my business. Mothers being so willing to help, share, contribute – you name it! I feel this is the beautiful part of motherhood that often gets shadowed by online spaces that divide and create polarisation … which is unfortunate, but something we are trying hard to improve with Mumli.

 

What advice would you give to mothers who also want to venture into the entrepreneurial space?

Oh god! Haha! Make sure you REALLY want it. Get lots of advice and council before jumping all in. Get very clear with yourself on your boundaries… what are your “non-negotiables”. Things you know you need on a personal and family level in order to stay sane and feel like you’re not giving too much to one thing. I use these daily to calibrate where and how I spend my time.

 

The top 3 lessons you have learnt whilst juggling motherhood and business ownership?

1. You don’t need to run yourself into the ground to be successful in business, you just need to protect your time and use it impactfully.

2. You’ll experience guilt, imposter syndrome & self-doubt frequently. This voice is called your “inner asshole”. Make sure you also have an “inner hype girl” and give her a chance to voice some thoughts too.

3. Enjoy the ride.

 

How would you describe yourself as a mother?

Equal parts ‘respectful parenting’ mixed with a healthy side of “Fine – starve!!”

 

What are your greatest hopes for the future of the Motherhood worldwide?

That all the colours, shades and seasons of Motherhood are what bring us together, not drive us apart.

Our Brands: Pioneering a Sustainable New World.

A strong brand is a powerful tool.

Traditionally, branding has been utilised to attract consumer attention with the ultimate goal of conversion, but brands are beginning to realise that their influence doesn’t have to stop there. Businesses can (and should) be utilised as vehicles for change. Through compelling storytelling, strong brand messaging or undeniable value add, we are seeing more and more brands use their platforms for good. And it is no surprise, amidst the current climate crisis that this good has been heavily focused on improving the state of our planet.

As an agency and thought leader in brand strategy and visual communication, we feel a duty and responsibility to use our expertise to bring to life brands who honour purpose over profit. Our vision for the future of Smack Bang is to bolster sustainability by working with brands who inspire and use their voice to initiate positive and effective change.

To celebrate Earth Day, we interviewed a few members of our team on some recent brands we have launched that are pioneering sustainability in the market.

 

Project: Ethical Made Easy
with Tess Robinson, Founder and Creative Director

The decision to work with Ethical Made Easy was a no-brainer for Smack Bang. Ethical Made Easy provides convenience through curation to create a better tomorrow. By enabling its users to discover and shop the world’s most loved and sustainable brands all in the one space, Ethical Made Easy reimagines the way we shop — Facilitating ease for a generation who choose to shop with brands who align with their values.

The EME brand was founded on the premise that today,

75% of millennials are willing to pay more for an environmentally sustainable product.

(source)

By curating and amplifying the best conscious brands on the market today, EME champions genuine, game-changing sustainability, dispelling the thick layers of green-wash that plague the industry, successfully setting the standard for tomorrow’s world.

Founder of Ethical Made Easy, Jasmine Mayhead wanted to ensure that where she was spending her money was actively creating the world she wanted to live in.

“It’s a pretty simple world, really: where people are treated with dignity and respect and that both the planet and people have been cared for across all parts of the supply chain” Founder, Jasmine Mayhead

With the intention to establish themselves as the go-to platform and trusted voice for ethical brands, Ethical Made Easy required a brand identity and digital platform that alluded to their playful and modern, but ultimately authoritarian persona—one that seamlessly aligned with their mission to bring about a better future.

Working with Jasmine was a genuinely inspiring process. She is incredibly knowledgeable about what the future holds for her industry and has an unwavering vision for how she will best contribute to that. The design choices as well as brand copy, imagery and media, had to grasp and reflect this degree of integrity and enthusiasm. The concept of ‘engagement’ became a major brand pillar in setting the tone and experience of the brand and influenced each and every touchpoint for the brand.

“Smack Bang helped us to find our footing, find what makes us different, and ultimately, helped us back ourselves enough to keep going. It’s been far from an easy journey, but the world we believe in is one worth fighting for and I’m so grateful that I get to do it alongside partners like Smack Bang.” Jasmine Mayhead

 

Emma Primmer, Marketing Manager
Project: Phantm

Phantm was born with a founding vision to build a plastic-free planet. On first meeting, we were wildly impressed by the uniqueness of their offering, being the first company in Australia to introduce PHA, a groundbreaking material created from converted waste that breaks down in the natural environment without harm to our planet. PHA comes from nature and goes back to nature. Our team saw an opportunity to help build a social enterprise that is actively pioneering the circular economy and contributing to a plastic free future.

“Our Cofounders were shocked by the insidious petrochemical plastics problem that humans have created. In a bid to do better, Phantm was born to build a new natural materials company.” Elliot Costello, Phantm Founder

Our team wanted to herald this vision and the impact that Phantm proposed at every touch point. We knew that the target audience was out there, anyone hoping for a more sustainable future and looking for solutions that positively impact both people and the planet.

“We needed a brand and mark that would communicate this complexity in an instant, through a somatic and felt sense. The brand needed to go beyond innovation to herald a whole new way of doing business, all while feeling deep-rooted enough to build trust for our licence to operate in this exciting new space. It was a big ask, and Smack Bang delivered.” – Elliot, Phantm Founder

As an agency that aims to be a thought leader in our category, we are proud to support innovative thinkers and knowledge leaders. Our team were impressed with Phantm’s founding team from the get-go whose passion to challenge the status quo matched our enthusiasm to reinvent an entire category.

The resulting brand experience is one that has the ability to ‘rally a movement’, with a bold and impactful identity with an activist-like undertone. The Phantm brand is one that connects with a broad range of consumers to sell the notion of a better future for all.

 

Elodie Kongasiou, General Manager
Project: Worn For Good

Worn For Good is an ecommerce platform helping move fashion towards a circular economy whilst offering a creative solution to waste for the industry. With profits sent to charities that work to improve the lives of women and the health of our planet, Worn For Good’s vision and value add to the sustainable space was an initiative we couldn’t have been more excited to get behind. As part of our Smack Bang Foundation, we worked with founders Sophie Palmer and Pip Best to craft an identity and digital platform that demonstrates that fashion and compassion can co-exist.

Worn For Good set out to claim their space as leaders of conscious consumption, redefining how we think about the greater impact of our purchasing habits. Our brand system celebrates their purpose through design, emphasising the notion of a circular economy whilst alluding to the zero waste, zero production impacts of recycled clothing.

We were honoured to develop the identity and website of Worn For Good pro-bono under our Smack Bang Foundation. Pip and Soph are long standing industry friends and our collaboration was an organic and obvious partnership. Leading a team of female designers on a social project that supports Women’s Community Shelters (and now other social causes) felt completely aligned with us. Building an impact page that tracks the money raised to the different causes WFG supports was important, too, to provide an element of transparency and track the platform’s impact.

 

 

 

 

 

Finding cut-through in a flooded market: here’s how

Is your brand having an identity crisis? You’re not alone, in the 2020 financial year, over 344,000 new businesses entered the Australian market. That’s a lot of new brands vying for our attention and hard-earned cash.

In current times, it’s certainly become far simpler to create a brand or start a business. All it takes is one bright idea, a business registration, a Shopify subscription and a sturdy internet connection  — and thus a brand presence is born.

With this relatively simple start-up route comes the often complex catches of launching into an oversaturated market and finding a noteworthy niche to ensure brand differentiation from the outset.

Smack Bang is built on the philosophy of creating future brands. We believe that a clearly visioned brand can quite easily parlay purpose into profit. We also understand to ensure brand longevity, a solid foundation with clear brand messaging and a succinct narrative that speaks directly to your audience is paramount to the brands future success.

 

How to determine if your brand is simply wading in the shallows:  

Maybe the once successful tactics you implemented are no longer delivering for your brand? Audience dwindling? Messaging diluted? Revenue falling? Losing relevance? Taking stock of where your brand has been, where it is currently positioned and where you want to go is an invaluable exercise and positive starting point for any brand needing realignment in one or all areas of business.

 

When is it time to dive in? 

There are a number of signs that can indicate it’s time to pivot your brand strategy and take a plunge. Pivoting is a clever way to bring new life to the business. Most successful brands will be constantly growing and evolving to stay current with their audience and competitive within their industry. Does your brand seem outdated, irrelevant or unevolved within the world around it? Becoming stagnant is one of the worst fates a business can face however with proper planning, it’s avoidable. Rethinking your roll-out, pivoting with pace and implementing constant evolvement into your brand strategy is key.

 

A strong value proposition is critical to standing out from the crowd. If your business model has been replicated or outdone by competitors, it could be a sign you need to rethink your approach.

– Business Australia 

 

What is a rebrand? And do you actually need one? 

Rebranding is the process of changing the image of a brand. The aim is to make the ‘new’ image more attractive to consumers. It’s a marketing strategy that reviews the look and feel of a brand and develops a new identity. It could include a new brand name, new visual identity and marketing collateral — view it as a method of reinvention  to keep you one foot ahead of the competition and visible in the market. What untouched potential is your brand harbouring? Where is this vision not being fully executed? A successful rebrand can help you differentiate and align with the wants, needs and values of your target audience. 

 

Future-proofing your business 

As some brands thrive in the digital space, others continue to grow in the real world. Where should you invest to ensure your brand’s survival? The world as we know it is constantly evolving and consumer expectations are following suit. To achieve longevity in tomorrow’s market,  a brand must be willing to think differently about the relevance of their brand and leverage new and deeper consumer insights. We make it our business to be at the forefront of consumer trends and sustainability advancements in order to best guide our clients on how to remain relevant and continue to grow in their industry. 

 

Consumers rely more than ever on brands to help them simplify their choices. Smart brands are those who leverage this consumer need and in turn, are far better positioned to capture the growth opportunities that follow.

 

Growing to match your audience 

As consumer expectations continue to change and grow, so must your brand offerings in order to compete in the future market. Whilst Gen Z consumers have been shown to highly value environmental factors when it comes to the brands they choose to support, it is projected that Gen Alpha will have even higher expectations when it comes to sustainable brands. If you are wanting to grow your target audience and stay relevant, brand evolution must be a core consideration. 

 

Knowing what makes you great

By understanding your brand’s strengths and weaknesses you can accurately identify what differentiates your brand in a sea of same-same. Branding is about competitive edge and effectively communicating your purpose and niche to your target audience. A strong brand can help you achieve that competitive advantage and convert one-time consumers into brand loyalists. 

 

Importance of a strong brand strategy 

As your brand develops so should the strategy behind your brand. Every strong rebrand begins with determining your company’s purpose, vision, mission and core values. Before deep diving into the rebranding process ask yourself — why does my company exist? Where is it headed and what values do I want to define the way I run my business? Once you have a clear understanding of your why, you will be able to use this information to guide every decision you make throughout your rebrand. 

 

A strong foundational strategy is essentially a way to future-proof your brand – implementing sustainable processes and scheduled iterations will empower you in building, managing, and developing the brand without the risk of detrimental digressions.   

The difference between good and great 

It’s important to remember that rebranding doesn’t mean there is something wrong with your current strategy, it is simply a natural step in the growth of every business. Keeping future trends, shifting consumer needs and the changing values that underpin your business in your sights will allow you to have a brand that is constantly evolving and growing in box-step with the market — ensuring your brand continues to thrive. 

 

Smack Bang specialises in boosting brands for success in tomorrow’s market. Get in touch here or stalk our latest projects.

Consumer expectations and the future of greener brands.

WHILE CONSUMER CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT, IN PARTICULAR, THE CLIMATE CRISIS, HAVE OSCILLATED FOR YEARS, THE EVENTS OF 2020 AND 2021, AND NOW 2022, HAVE MARKED A SIGNIFICANT TURNING POINT.

Recent events, which extend beyond the pandemic and climate emergency, have redefined consumer expectations of businesses at a time when the relationship between profit and growth is undergoing a complex transformation to include a new, broader context.

For consumers worldwide, the combination of escalating climate threats and the intensity of the pandemic have brought our worst fears to the forefront. Our concerns not just for the environment but also for our health, our wealth, and the community at large, are more heightened, more nuanced and feel far more pressing as part of our daily lived experience.

 

Thankfully, this newfound consumer consciousness and subsequent demands have sparked an acute response, spurring companies of all sizes to reimagine their place in a greener future with greater urgency and genuine action.

 

Until this point, sustainability as a natural and implicit part of a business’ proposition was predominantly just a nice-sounding aspiration. 2020 however, gave way to a new standard of public expectation that is more uncompromising than before. According to Salesforce5, 67% of customers say “their standards for good experiences are higher than ever” while, at the same time, 51% say “most companies fall short of their expectations ”.

It’s no surprise then, that the concept of eco-consciousness hasn’t just cut through, it’s stuck. But sustainability and expectations of business’ complicity and responsibility is moving fast.

‘It used to be a business’s goal to provide products and services that were, for example, stylish (status-orientated) and low carbon (environmentally-orientated). This was what sustainability looked like pre-2020 and Tesla and Nespresso are two obvious examples of this in action. It’s just that this won’t be enough moving forward because this is what is now expected by consumers as a bare minimum and is therefore unlikely to create long-term distinction and differential value.’ – FutureBrand

Inevitably, this calls for companies and brands to rise to this new reality and reimagine the subject of sustainability in a more nuanced and complex way, one that integrates ‘sustainability’ as an intrinsic part of their business model, rather than a nice-to-have bonus.

At present, data across the board confirms two things;

  • On a whole, consumers are hyper aware of the condition of the environment.
    In the US, one third of online adults say they spend more time thinking about the climate than they did before the Covid-19 pandemic. Social media and video streams, like #climateemergency, curate a continuous cycle of content that exposes consumers to the ravaging impacts of climate change and frame the state of the environment as a personal and emotional issue. – Forrester data
  • Consumers will justify the extra cost to be eco-friendly.
    Today’s consumers support and champion brands that commit to sustainability, despite the additional cost associated with such products. ‘When given the chance, people typically opt for ways to save money; two-thirds of internet users say they would sooner wait for a product to go on sale than buy it at full price.

But when it comes to being eco-friendly, frugality tends to take a backseat; 60% of internet users say they’ll pay more for products that are eco-friendly.’ –  GWI

It’s a promising sign being eco-friendly is important to consumers, even among those we might not expect. Older generations, for example, aren’t too far behind their younger counterparts for saying they would buy high-price, eco-friendly products. Even low earners or those who describe themselves as price-conscious will still prefer to be eco-friendly than not. – GWI

 

To meet these new expectations, take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead of us and optimise commercial success, brands can no longer risk not putting their sustainability strategy at the forefront.

 

SO, EXACTLY WHAT ROLE ARE BRANDS EXPECTED TO PLAY IN CREATING A GREENER FUTURE?

For companies to meet the challenges of this new market reality there are a number of attributes, commitments and distinct deliverables that future consumers will demand. Of course, the execution and strategy will wildly differ between companies and categories, but successful brands of a greener future will follow a few golden rules;

Craft an authentic and distinct approach unique to the company

The first step is to distil and define the unique way in which the business can and should take responsibility in a greener future. While the broader benefits of greater involvement in sustainable strategies apply to all, individual companies face specific challenges and opportunities, and should tailor their approach accordingly.

This is where a brand-first approach is essential. For us at Smack Bang, we believe that a brand is a set of expectations or feelings that surround a company, or as Ze Frank refers to it as; “The ’emotional aftertaste’ that comes after an experience (even a second-hand one) with a product, service, or company.” Therefore, it is essential to set clear ambitions and determine priority areas of focus through unique and individual brand pillars and positioning.

 

Demonstrate transparency with their strategy

Sustainability strategies should be championed as works in beta, allowing for greater focus on progress, over perfection. Viewing a strategy through this lens also grants brands more grace and eagerness to share their strategy publicly.

Successful brands of the future will demonstrate this transparency with their strategy, so as to have greater impact in extended circles, facilitating others to do more with greater knowledge.

There are many companies who are committed to this public transparency with their strategy and commitments around climate. By sharing with transparency, these brands help other companies, as well as the wider community benefit, bringing others along with them in support of the mission. One such example is emerging beauty pioneer, Emma Lewisham, who recently made waves by sharing their blueprint for becoming the world’s first beauty brand to be certified Carbon Positive and 100% circular-designed.

 

Embed integrity into the core of the business model

To ensure their sustainability strategy has genuine impact, companies need to embed integrity as an intrinsic part of their business model. This integrity should have the power and modality to inform the operating model, culture, values and brand engagement as well as influence everyday decision making.

This should ensure that transformation aligns with moving market demands, as leaders and stakeholders make intelligent choices based on intrinsic and agreed values – moving away from decisions based on profit and profit alone.

 

Demonstrate a consistent approach

Consumer expectations show an intensifying desire for brands to participate in such changes with a consistent approach that should endure well into the future, transcending changes in corporate strategy and leadership (- Deloitte). Consumers expect a brand’s sustainability strategy to be applied to even the most mundane aspects of a business. Keeping decision makers and stakeholders accountable to their commitments across every level of the business will be absolutely crucial for brands to deliver on trust and consistency, “As more citizens want firms to support causes they hold dear, CEOs who remain  silent risk being accused  of complicity”. – The Economist

 

Absorb higher costs associated with sustainable practices

It’s no surprise that 60% of internet users in the U.S. and UK cited cost as the main barrier to purchasing eco-friendly products. While most are happy to pay more, ensuring these sorts of products are more affordable is essential if they’re to break into the mainstream. – GWI

As uncomfortable as it may be for some, brands of the future will be required to shift age-old business models of making as much profit as they can for themselves and shareholders, to taking modest fees for benefitting the many and improving lives and society. – FutureBrand Consumer expectations will slowly, but undeniably shift to expect brands to absorb the higher costs associated with producing and adhering to more sustainable ways of doing business.

 

Image credit: Daria Rudko 

 

2022 Design Trends

2022 is fast approaching and here at Smack Bang we’ve been thinking about the design trends that are going to characterise the year to come. After a turbulent 2020 and 2021, from the pandemic to the ongoing climate crisis, consumer perspectives have shifted and as such, so too has design.

The following are our top trend predictions for 2022.

Typographic Trends.

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY.
Environmental concerns will be at the forefront of people’s minds. There are certain fonts that use less ink, for example; Century Gothic was designed with thin letters for maximum readability and minimal ink usage in the early days of print. Monospaced fonts are thin but not small which means you don’t have to increase the size of the font for legibility. (smaller font size = less ink = more environmentally friendly). Eg Courier has a retro typewriter style that makes it so economical – it was designed for typewriters, which means it was designed to save on ink.

Utilising environmentally happy fonts like the ones mentioned above, utilising blind emboss as a design feature. and smaller print sizes can all help you use less ink. On the other hand try to go easy on the bold type as it uses more ink!


INCLUSIVE.

A big trend in 2022 will be more inclusive typography, this simply means typography that is easier to read. A good rule of thumb is that rounded typefaces are usually both easier and quicker to read, making them more accessible to everyone. An example in typography is how a classic font such as Futura has adapted its form, making it more accessible and usable as Futura Now.


CUSTOM.

Brands are discovering that a custom font can communicate as powerfully and effectively as other visual tools. We are likely to see more brands investing in custom fonts as they become aware that they need something that is deeper into their core identity. Variable fonts are a new sensation that we will definitely be seeing more of in the new year as they allow greater flexibility and customisation than a classic font family.

Some really wild types were introduced and popular in 2020. It is likely that these will take a back seat in 2022 as the need for legible typefaces and a clean traditional aesthetic will dominate. We predict a growing emphasis on how you use the fonts, rather than just choosing an overly detailed font to do all the talking. We want to see typefaces that are legible and strong, are unique or custom to a brand, but are used equally as uniquely to communicate the brand’s personality.

 

General Design Trends.

MOTION.
2021 has seen a greater need for motion and videos, and the growth of this trend isn’t slowing down any time soon.  They say an image speaks 1000 words, BUT motion speaks even more. Motion catches our attention in a world that is impatient and oversaturated with content.

QR codes were all but dead and now since the pandemic have come back with force – and are used everywhere. There is an opportunity for packaging to have a digital element but utilising QR codes to animate something that is otherwise static.QR codes also save printed space and allow for a lot more information to be added to packaging – as well as linking through to brand’s websites.

We could see a big rise in taking the online brand to the shelves / on packaging. Will people get creative with the unboxing experience utilising digital means?


MOVING AWAY FROM MINIMALISM.

We are seeing a move away from minimalistic geometric look and towards more jagged, raw and real. This means going for Sharp contrasts, clashing colours, acid greens and terminal fonts.

We also predict a move back to the 90s style – retro style that appeals to millennial audiences. With Tiktok being the largest social media platform downloaded currently, this has and will continue to influence a lot of design elements. Aim for vibrant colours, bold backgrounds, icons and illustrations


COLLABORATION O/S.

The pandemic opened up opportunities to work remotely and with that comes an increased level of engagement with people from around the globe. Brands are working with people from around the world who are specialised in different fields eg art/illustration and pairing it with design.

 

VOICE + SOUND.
With Siri and Alexa becoming increasingly more and more part of our lives there is a move towards including voice and sound into design elements e.g. on websites.

 

 

So, what does this mean for your brand?

With all of this said we are not suggesting you leave behind all that has made your brand YOUR brand and start fresh. Like with all trends it’s best to take what you like and leave behind what you don’t.

While it doesn’t mean a total overhaul, even the smallest changes and considerations can make the world of difference. How can we introduce more environmentally friendly fonts (simple) but also appeal to a trend that is moving away from minimalistic design? Can we creatively incorporate fonts that are not only inclusive (legible) but also environmentally friendly (less ink, quicker load time) to create the end goal of unconventional typeforms and design? While we are leaving behind soft pastels and minimalistic design, how can we lean into the more jagged, raw 90s aesthetic that will ultimately appeal to our audience?

It’s your move.

Branding as Storytelling

Amongst the chaos of infinite choice, today’s brands need to evolve from simply creating awareness and buzz, to creating meaning and connection. 

It’s no easy feat, but to become a lasting and loved brand is to become embedded in people’s lives. We not only have to engage consumers at deeper levels, but also ask the question, “What feeling will we provide that will keep our customers connected to our product and loyal to our brand?”

My perception of branding is intrinsically linked to storytelling. I don’t think you can talk about branding without talking about your ‘story’. To me, a brand is nothing but a story. A brand in and of itself can’t make you feel a sense of belonging, intimacy, confidence or peace of mind, but the story the brand tells can make you feel a certain way.

All branding is storytelling in its purest form. It’s the story you tell and the story you sell.

Your brand is a representation of who you are and where you stand in the market. It’s the sum of your business as a whole, as told by those who interact with your business. In my opinion, it’s everything. Your entire company is your brand, from the scent of your foyer to the shoes your staff wear to a meeting. From the timing of your invoices to the fineprint on your warranties. Branding is business and business is branding. 

It’s your reputation and your reliability. It’s your demeanor and your delivery. It’s everything you stand for, and everything that stands for you. It’s quite literally, everything your business is and does. 

And the best brands build compelling stories. Stories that resonate with their ideal customers. Stories that are meaningful and memorable. Stories that are persuasive and powerful. And above all, stories that are unique and authentic. Us humans are creatures of emotion, and we crave connection. It’s how we are all inherently wired. So, to create a lasting relationship, evoke connection and foster loyalty with your customer, you need to be honest, authentic and share your story. 

As legendary marketing guru, Seth Godin says; “The marketer’s job, then, is to tell a true story, one that resonates, one that matters to people, and to repeat it often enough that it creates value.” And I couldn’t agree more. Humans are drawn to stories. We are compelled toward things that are wrapped up in compelling narratives.

But a brand can’t just tell any old story. We need to craft our stories meticulously, with accuracy and honesty. The best stories and the best brands are those built on a hot bed of pure, unadulterated authenticity. Why? Because authenticity breeds trust, and trust breeds loyalty. And if you haven’t heard me say it a thousand times before, loyalty is the bedrock of any booming business. 

Telling our story through our brand is about building trust like we do in our day-to-day relationships with one another. Trust is built on a foundation of authenticity, honesty and humility. Every little piece of your company, your story and your brand that you share with the world is an opportunity to show up. It’s an opportunity to share who you are, clarify what makes you different, show that you care and connect your brand with the right, eager-to-pay people, through being authentic, honest and true to our values. 

Whilst we can’t dictate how people speak and feel about our brand, we can dictate how we present ourselves to the world, which in turn, gives people clues as to how they should feel about our brand. The way we show up in the world should be a deliberate act and every expression of our brand should be a conscious choice. 

The two questions you need to ask yourself are what is my story, and is it true? 

 

Beauty is no longer skin deep.

We’re detectives when it comes to whether our granola contains gluten, but historically we’ve been ignorant to what products we lather ourselves with. The Clean Beauty movement of yesteryear saw buzzwords like ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ appear across skincare advertisements, as we collectively sulked over to our bathroom cabinet and began to question what actually is in that 10-years-younger-in-10-days night cream we’ve been using every night? 

While a lot of brands emerged from this trend victoriously authentic, it wasn’t without the clean-washing by major brands who wanted a piece of the organic-pie. A disillusionment arose of what truly was classified as ‘organic’, and with little regulation, consumers began to question what it was they were putting on their skin. 

 

The, Ahem, Pandemic.

No conversation is immune to the mention of COVID-19. About every industry has had their own tale of challenges and triumph in their individual confrontations with this global pandemic. But most notably, was the beauty sector’s seismic shift from makeup to skincare.

Confined to our homes, staying in birthed a never-before-seen wellness epidemic — routines became rituals, and consumers began looking to preserve healthy skin rather than spend time and money on covering it up. This long-term, proactive approach to beauty is a unique opportunity for brands to create long-lasting engagement with their consumers by solidifying brand values and evolving beyond their historic one-dimensional category into a space of purpose and intention. 

In 2020, consumers were less inclined to part with their cash due to such economic uncertainty. Instead, they indulged in the appropriately-named “Lipstick Effect” phenomenon — that is, spending their dollars on smaller luxuries, such as beauty. Sadly, this wasn’t the case for makeup, as working from home and our lack of social engagements became the new norm. L’Oreal reported 14% decline in global beauty sales in the first half of the year, with professional beauty, makeup and fragrance sales all experiencing a 25% decline (source). It’s not all bad news, as emerging technology is allowing the personalisation of products and services, such as virtual try-on sessions where artification intelligence (AI) can select the perfect foundation match. With a generation craving deeper connections, personalisation tools can foster a relationship of integrity and accountability between brand and consumer that is far and few from our world of social distancing.

“The beauty category, while not recession proof, has fared better than many other discretionary categories in economic downturns, reflecting the relatively low price point and the connection with the product… engagement with the beauty category remains strong, despite the uncertainty many guests are experiencing today” Mary Dillion, CEO of Ulta Beauty.

 

Skintellectualism

As people became increasingly educated about active ingredients and formulations, a new consumer emerged — the Skintellect. With research, they discovered that some ingredients, albeit natural, aren’t good and some synthetic ingredients, aren’t entirely bad. The veil of mystery historically held up by the beauty industry dissipated, as trade secrets became marketing tactics to promote efficacy and trust (with the consumer as the ultimate beneficiary). The nitty-gritty details of what ingredients are included, or left out, where they are sourced, and which scientific professionals have endorsed them, has created distinct value to post-pandemic consumers.The selfie-generation has grown up, and brands must accommodate for authenticity in order to sustain a loyal following. 

Conversations of science are now part of our daily diet when it comes to content consumption. The majority are listening to, and trusting, science more than ever. This merit has translated into the beauty industry, as consumers begin to care less about luxury packaging and are persuaded more by testing, transparency and efficacy (source). That’s not to say that branding in the skincare sector is obsolete — in fact, it’s now more important than ever for brands to maintain resonance in an increasingly saturated market. The success lies in strategy, not aesthetics, and brands must utilise consumer insights to future-proof their audience for the next #trending skincare innovation (or more frighteningly, next major global crisis?).

 

Beauty is no longer a topical application

As macro uncertainty continues to prevail, consumers are now embracing alternative medicine treatments as a way to incorporate wellness into their routines and combat stress (source). This New Age of personal wellness, highly endorsed by Gen Z, sees a profound focus on spirituality and a realignment of values. While physical hygiene continues to run rampant, an increased awareness of emotional and mental hygiene has emerged — predicted to affect not just the beauty industry, but food, interiors and clothing (source). Consumers don’t want to just look good, they want to feel good. 

The global ingestible beauty market is now worth $217 billion (and climbing), according to CB Insights. The evidence is on our doorstep, with local success stories The Beauty Chef, Mukti and Love Beauty Foods hard to ignore. Consumers are now expecting brands to provide a holistic solution — one that not only captures real innovation, but genuine inclusivity. 

Smack Bang worked with wellness entrepreneur Keira Rumble on the development of her modern beauty brand Habitual Beauty, forging the conventional skincare regime into the practice of mindfulness (see the full case study here). Promoting a real radiance that is born from within, the approach to inside-out beauty has been swiftly embraced by the Australian market, with a massive uptake in its sales of their beauty-promoting collagen powder since its launch in July.

Coined as ‘functional’ food and beverages, their results can extend beyond improving the appearance of skin — some even offer mood-altering or psychedelic enhancements. Its profoundness translating to our digital experiences – functional Mushroom store Rainbo allows their customers to filter their shopping experience by mood. 

While 70% of the ingestible beauty market consists of powders and concentrates, innovations on delivery are emerging in the form of waters, bars, sparkling teas, meal kits — even vape pens (source). So long as ‘Collagen’, ‘Peptides’ and ‘Adaptogens’ are integrated into our daily vocabulary, science will continue to be a part of the conversation surrounding beauty. 

 

So, what does the future hold?

Moving up the ranks is sustainable skincare. While recyclable packaging is commendable — and a feat for Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) — it could now almost be seen as tokenistic, as planet-conscious consumers are looking for brands to flex their innovation muscle. 

Exciting things are happening in the world of refillables — Skincare brands are asking their consumers to purchase refill pouches, return their empties for re-use, or top-up at a refill station. Waterless Beauty continues to make waves — brands offering their product in concentrated forms to their consumers as research illuminates that most companies are creating products with 95% water and 5% active ingredients. Bang-for-your-buck for big corp, but a massive bummer for our carbon footprint as we continue to freight such a (widely) accessible, and naturally occurring, resource. Jenni Middleton, the director of beauty trends at WGSN, suggests biotechnology could be the answer. “We have to ask ourselves: Is it right to use a tiny bit of this plant and throw the rest away — all to create a serum? Or should we find a more sustainable way of creating that active ingredient?”. Only time will tell.

 

The Future: Sustainable packaging.

It’s 2021, and brands can no longer afford to not prioritise sustainability.

It is no secret that consumerism is a key contributor to waste and global emissions. Sustainable practice has become a base level requirement for brands who want to succeed in today’s climate, however, simply labelling a product as ‘sustainable’ is no longer making the cut. 

Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of their buying power and expect brands to step up to the plate when it comes to sustainable practices. Becoming ever more attuned to ‘green-washing’, consumers are sharpening up to question brands’ choices when it comes to product design, ethical labour and sustainable packaging. It’s clear that consumers want to buy sustainable products that align with their vision for a better world. But defining what is ‘sustainable’ and what practices meet the appropriate level of responsibility is still a challenge for brands and consumers alike.

Sustainability is no longer just about environmental impact and is rather an all encompassing state that takes people, the environment and profit into account.
(—Everland, 2021).

One major challenge for Brands when creating sustainable product is neglecting quality or ease. Although the modern consumer values sustainability, they still gravitate towards products or services that will benefit them most. Keeping the consumer at the heart of decision making is essential for brands who want to stand out, especially on a global scale. “Consumers tend to care for themselves. We’d rather choose products that are first and foremost good for us, than beneficial for the environment,” says Susanne Berg, Nordic Marketing and Innovation Director. It seems, consumers across the board desire sustainable solutions but not at the price of great design or quality product. 

And of course in our click-centric world, consumers have information at the tip of their fingers, making it extremely easy for false claims or empty promises to be unraveled. It is always more valuable to be proactive in the face of trends rather than reactive – but how exactly can we do this?

Introducing the Circular Economy – a new business paradigm which reimagines how systems, services and products are created in order to support a sustainable future. This concept has been gaining traction globally as companies work towards eliminating waste and resource abuse. The Circular Economy has a myriad of long term benefits for brands and the environment including reduced material costs, reduced CO2 and reduced primary material consumption as materials are in circulation for longer rather than being disregarded after single use (Philo and Co). 

The Circular Economy requires a new way of thinking and strategic planning for resource use rather than continuing to create products and packaging with a take-make-waste mentality. This mentality has led us to a point where the production of goods accounts for 45% of the world’s emissions according to a recent study by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation. Moving forward with a Circular Economy means creating systems that rely on recyclable and sustainable packaging solutions and using ethically sourced materials for the development of products. This growing trend is being taken on by a number of brands as it becomes more and more clear that limiting waste is important to consumers. 

One by-product of the move to the Circular Economy is the introduction of Sustainable packaging. A 2020 study found that packaging design is one of the key elements that can actively help improve supply chains, contributing to improved sustainability of logistics processes and activities.  Refillable Systems are one sustainable packaging solution that is on the rise allowing for product bottles and casing to be reused, extending their life cycle. This solution is especially applicable for food, drink and beauty products. Designer giant Dior is one of many brands jumping on the refillable bandwagon, introducing refillable cologne bottles for mens fragrance this year. Refillable solutions allow consumers to feel good about their purchases – putting the desire for sustainability at the heart of product design.

So how can you improve your packaging solutions and elevate your brand? 

  • Focus on recyclable materials that have an extended lifecycle, breaking the take-make-waste loop. 
  • Become aware of how your packaging is made and the associated carbon footprint
  • Plan for the future – don’t be discouraged by where your brand is currently. Every step, big or small, leads us one step closer to sustainability.

 

Image credit: Ana Dominguez

The future of women’s economic empowerment.

This article is part of our new series titled ‘Future Brands’ which centres
on global forecasts, trend insights and category challengers.

At Smack Bang, we believe women with wealth will change the world.

It’s time we change the narrative around women’s financial wellbeing. The current conversation typically centers around getting by on maternity leave, protecting your family, setting yourself up for retirement, and patronisingly so, curbing spend on lattes, long lunches and high-heels.

Fuelling this archaic conversation is an economic system that is currently stacked against women. And whilst there is much progress to be made to conquer the unfair barriers that prevent radically true wealth equity, we choose to remain hopeful that the future of women’s financial wellbeing is bright.

Why? Well it’s simple really. As philanthropist Melinda Gates has said, “As women gain rights, families flourish, and so do societies. That connection is built on a simple truth: Whenever you include a group that’s been excluded, you benefit everyone. And when you’re working globally to include women and girls, who are half of every population, you’re working to benefit all members of every community. Gender equity lifts everyone. Women’s rights and society’s health and wealth rise together.”

The latest Women’s Financial Wellbeing Guide from Commbank shows that females are less likely than males to be taught about investing and saving from an early age, meaning overall women have lower levels of financial literacy than men — This systemic inequality begins at a very young age and plays out well into retirement. In Australia, women retire with an average of 35% less retirement savings than men yet, live longer than men – 87.3 years to their male counterparts, at 84.6 years. Running concurrently to this is the fact that men lead 91% of Australian financial service companies,* and are therefore deepening the disparity of a system that is so obviously designed for the benefit of men, rather than all. *WGEA, 2020

Clearly, it’s time for a whole new set of rules.

 

Enter stage left: Verve — An ethical super fund tailored for women, by women who are fronting this change.

The reasons behind the ‘retirement super gap’ are complex, and require dedicated attention to solve. That’s why Verve focuses 100% of their resources, services and attention to building the wealth and financial power of women.

The decisions we make when we choose our superannuation funds have far-reaching implications beyond our retirement. Where you invest your super is a vote for the future you want to retire in — the world you will pass on to the next generation. To put it simply, it is your legacy.

It’s estimated that by 2030, super funds will own half of the companies on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). It’s also estimated that by 2025 Australian women will hold 1.5 trillion in superannuation. So, depending on where women choose to place their (super) power, our future could look vastly different.

With this in mind, we like to think that we’re
on the precipice of real, systemic change.

A brighter future begins with better news, and the good news here is that despite women only controlling 32% of the world’s wealth, women are amassing greater wealth than ever before, and according to BCG – Consulting group that share is likely to grow significantly in the years ahead. ‘From 2016 to 2019, women accumulated wealth at a compound annual growth rate of 6.1%. Over the next four years, that rate will accelerate to 7.2%. BCG’s analysis finds that women are adding $5 trillion to the wealth pool globally every year—faster than in years past.’

The future of women’s financial empowerment also promises an overall increase in GDP. As World Bank reports, “If we simply assume that women would earn as much as men. This is about twice the value of GDP globally. Said differently, human capital wealth could increase by 21.7 percent globally, and total wealth by 14.0 percent with gender equality in earnings.” We think Melinda Gates was certainly correct when she vowed, “If you want to lift up humanity, empower women. It is the most comprehensive, pervasive, high-leverage investment you can make in human beings.”

Empowering women has been the core pillar
and driving ambition for Verve since their
launch in 2018.

Since then, Verve has grown a dedicated community throughout their progressive attitude and pragmatic approach towards financial wellbeing. Typically, rather than focusing on the customer experience, financial institutions tend to develop their products to meet their own internal processes and operational efficiencies, only then do they think to put a pretty wrapper on the product and invite consumer connection.

Verve recognised that ‘brand’ isn’t purely design. It stems from a deep understanding of the people whom you’re designing your product and services for. Good design adds a human element that allows for empathy with the end user.

Considering this, they approached us to redefine their brand positioning and refresh their visual identity in a way that inspires and includes their diverse member community. Individually and collectively, we hold the power to build a better, brighter future. Our creative team was led by these notions of power and strength —

“We reimagined Verve’s branding and collateral to represent the spectrum of their customer base. Bold in its messaging and newsworthy in its appearance, Verve Super calls on women to usurp their super power. Disruptive and demanding of attention, the brand we built represents a rally-cry for intergenerational equity.”

A visual language was created that cuts out the noise, and elevates what’s truly important. Brand Designer, Imogen, describes the core brand colour palette as “uplifting and energising — modernising the corporate-blue into a versatile and compelling palette of violets and teals.” An imagery selection that focuses on community is fostered, with real-life customers featuring as the subjects.

Across every touchpoint we’ve delivered Verve Super a brand that, as Imogen articulates it, “Energetically transmits their vision for women’s economic empowerment – which in an industry of traditional and spiritless products, refuses to be ignored. Powerful and honest, the Verve Super brand intends to defy traditional super funds, and give women the power they truly deserve — control of their future.”

 

View the Verve Super project here.

How to communicate a rebrand with grace and gusto

Do you ever have those thoughts of ‘Thank GOD I don’t have that haircut anymore?’ Like when I look back at photos from the early 2000s and realise that I had a peroxide blonde mullet? #nojoke

Or looking back at that dreadful 90s outfit you donned as a kid and thank your lucky stars that you’re actually somewhat fashionable now? (Thanks for the polka dot leotard with matching scrunchie mum!)

Or realising that you once drove a 1991 rusty Nissan Pulsar that was rustier than a tin shed and feeling ever so grateful for your sleek new Volkswagen Tiguan.

I love discovering little life hacks like that that fill you with newfound self-confidence.

I get this feeling when I look back at the Smack Bang logo circa 2011.

At the time I had a sickly obsession with bright turquoise green – like the kind of green you need sunnies on to look at. Our logo had a bright green circle behind it that felt like the nightclub lights turning on when it was time to head home and, in retrospect, fills me with the same kind of anxiety.

(Let it also be known that I even painted one of our studio walls this colour. I’m not sure what I thinking, but the creative juices were obviously really starting to fire up.)

When I compare that ‘brand’ to our now slick, sexy and sophisticated brand, I am elated with confidence, clarity and a massive sense of relief.

The power of a rebrand, no matter how big, can be truly business-transforming. 

I recently fell down the rabbit hole that is our rather juicy archive of projects. I got all the way from A to M (and only aged a few years in the process), and stumbled across our designs for one of our most treasured clients, Mukti. Sifting through the files in that folder sure was a trip down memory lane. When Mukti first came to us, her beautiful formulations were trapped inside outdated little bottles that no longer reflected the quality and greatness of where she wanted her brand to be. We’ve worked with Mukti over the last 5 years to reposition and alchemise her brand from bland to grand and have since rebranded almost every aspect of her business. It has been one of the most satisfying projects to date because we’ve seen first-hand what an impact a refresh and repositioning can have on a business’ bottomline.

In Mukti’s case, a rebrand was necessary to encourage growth and clarify their services,

“I wanted our brand to be cleaner and less pigeon-holed as a
hippy-boho-natural-organic brand. I want to be taken seriously
as a global contender – an organic skincare brand that delivers real results.”

The Mukti rebrand and repositioning is just one of many projects where we’ve had the pleasure of playing make-over magic and helping our clients reap the rewards of a refresh.

I’ve written about why to rebrand and how to rebrand before, but I haven’t shared how to communicate a rebrand to your audience. A rebrand, when done for the right reasons, is a surefire way to get positive alignment for your brand, both externally and internally.

Here are my six golden rules to revealing a rebrand to an existing audience without losing your street cred.

  1. BE TRANSPARENT.
    When a company rebrands, there’s always the fear that your existing audience will feel alienated or confused by the change. The biggest fear Mukti had when it came to rebranding was exactly that:

    “I was scared that if it was radically different our customers may not
    recognise the brand. But I believe my approach to business has evolved
    and matured. I do my best not to be attached and to be open to others
    input and advice. Sometimes letting go is hard especially if decisions are taken
    out of your hands but in order to grow you have to take the leap of faith,
    experience a little discomfort and jump into the void.”

    We often find that when our clients are more vocal and transparent about the reasons for their rebrand, their customers aren’t alienated at all, and in many cases step up to offer their encouragement and support. If you’re transparent with your audience about why you’re rebranding, then there’s more potential for them to get behind your mission and support you on your voyage.

  2. PLAY THE LONG GAME.
    The quickest way to lose customers through a rebrand is to implement your changes overnight, without a word of warning. This is particularly the case if your rebrand is a dramatic change from your old get-up.

    Back in 2010 GAP (or more officially, The Gap) did exactly this. One day they were the familiar old, preppy, GAP, and the next? Customers went to the company’s website expecting to see the familiar dark blue box and white name were met with a logo that left them confused. It was impossible to tell if this was even the same clothing store? It’s safe to say the rebrand was a complete flop, and within a matter of weeks they reverted back to their old branding *Command Z* and see-ya-later $100 million (that was an expensive mistake).

    Ensure you communicate your rebrand to your followers far in advance. Sit down with your team and come up with the a well-thought-out timing strategy to execute the evolution. If it happens too slowly, you’ll lose the impact and rewards of a rebrand. If it happens too fast, your customers will be confused and, most likely, resentful.

  3. GET ON THE SOAPBOX (ALL OF THEM).
    It’s essential to make use of every tool in the communications toolbox to let people know about your new positioning and new brand. Your blog, social media accounts, email and even mailing lists should all be included as you roll out your rebrand.

    Remember, that all of your followers connect with your brand in different ways, some people will learn of your refresh via social, but others will be more inclined to read a newsletter. Check that you cover all bases by getting up on all your different soapboxes to ensure all your party people are kept in the loop and reassured they’re going to get the same great products, services or dedication to mission that they’ve come to expect.

  4. DOUBLE WHAMMIES ARE WAY MORE FUN.
    When we launched our latest brand refresh and spankin’ new website at Smack Bang last year, we also launched an entire new portfolio collection. This was a great plan of action because it gave us a reason to talk to our audience about the rebrand and also gave people a reason to care. Using a double whammy is a great approach – for us, we saw an increase in traffic to our website and greater interest in our studio, because there was a better understanding of what we offered, and our audience weren’t only interested in the new look, but also had an opportunity to view all of our most recent work. Have a think about what kind of double-pronged approach you can use with a rebrand? It might be the release of a new collection, the addition of a new service, a brand spankin’ promo? Whatever it is, remember to articulate it clearly and give your people something to care about.
  5. DON’T DROP YOUR STANDARDS.
    Strategies, like being transparent and timely about your rebrand, go a long way toward retaining customers. But the best way to avoid a drop in business is to focus on maintaining excellent service, particularly during this transition time. During and after a rebrand is the best time to really assert your brand values, ensuring that your customer service is next level top-notch! By going the extra mile when you have all these extra eyeballs on you, your customers will feel like the rebrand was the best darn thing you ever did.

  6. TALE POLE POSITION.
    Assert your new brand positioning with confidence and clarity. Your approach should be reliable and genuine, not hand-deliver-a-thousand-cupcakes-level eager to explain every single design decision you made to get there. Ensure you and your team are onboard with the reasons why you’ve rebranded and get super-duper crystal clear on your brand values, mission and vision. By having a strong positioning on the DNA of your brand, you’ll be able to better communicate what the rebrand means for your customer. The more articulate, confident and succinct you are, the better your customers will be able to understand what the rebrand means for them.

Image credit: Joost Termeer

Long distance relationships… Who says they don’t work? (In fact, they happen to be our speciality!)

The single greatest thing about being an adult in the 21st Century would surely have to be the internet. I mean, who wouldn’t agree?

We can now learn how to calculate Pi by throwing frozen hot dogs, buy a life size wall decal of an asian businessman or take a moment to watch someone eat ice cream off their scalp. What a time to be alive.

The internet has fundamentally changed our world. For better or worse, I’m yet to decide. But there’s certainly no denying that it has simultaneously made our lives so much more efficient, and yet so much more convoluted.

Frankly, it’s a love/loathe relationship for most people. But when you get it right, technology can truly be your best friend. Smack Bang would not be the business it is today without technology, in particular our love-to-loathe friend, Zoom.

As it currently stands, we work with over 500 clients worldwide and have birthed 2,000+ projects in over 20 different countries.

Yesterday alone I went to four different countries (through my trusty phone). At 8am I had a meeting in Toronto about a new retail store opening up, at 10am it was a bakery in New Zealand, at 5pm it was a marketing agency in Copenhagen and then, early evening, it was a random 70 year old’s landline in Double Bay because I dialled the wrong number.

There really has never been easier to connect with our fellow globetrotters, so for anyone thinking about embarking on some cross-continental business relations, let us assure you how easy it is:

  1. Remote teams can be even more productive
    These days, the term ‘digital nomad’ gets thrown around like a trolley in a grocery store. As a founder, I actually steer the Smack Bang ship from 90 mins drive away from the majority of the Sydney team since moving to the tranquil South Coast. Meanwhile our Creative Strategist, Holly, plays her part from Bangalow NSW (a 9 hour drive or 1 hour flight away from our Surry Hills HQ). But we are all only ever a G-chat apart and now really think about agendas and outcomes before scheduling meetings, which has made them so much more effective.
  2. Online communities totally transcend borders
    So many of our – and no doubt your – favourite modern brands break down any concept of borders in their customer experience. A great meme, a great product or service, and a great heart can be a common denominator no matter where they come from. We now have direct access to fashion labels in LA, art galleries in Amsterdam, tech in Tel Aviv and pretty much anything/everything you desire through Ali Baba – all from the comfort from our own home, where they arrive on our doorsteps a few days later!
    Australian label, Spell, was born from the (then) small town of Byron Bay. Now its co-founder, Elizabeth, attests 70-80% of their business is purely via online store from every corner of the planet. Swapping local market stalls for blogging their earliest photoshoots catapulted their exposure from just the immediate geographic community to a whole wide web of global eyeballs – and wallets. Big thanks Kevin Systrom – we too owe you a beer!
  3. The creative landscape is well and truly ‘globalised’
    Less than 50% of the SBD audience are in fact based in Australia, the other 50% is made up of a colourful array of other countries around the world. US in second place and old Blightly is number three, followed by NZ, Canada and Germany. Danke schön!
    We recently learnt quite how wide-spread our people are while getting acquainted with the new GDPR changes in the EU. (Shout out to our buddies in Latvia and the lovely Anna who bought Baskk from the tiny island of Symi in Greece.)
  4. Distance makes the heart grow fonder
    There are a number of resources and tools we use to make interstate and international business work like a dream. Zoom aside, our top three must be Calendly, Dropbox and Google docs. All hail the cloud! So much so, many of our all-time favourite projects have been for international brands whose HQs are thousands of kilometres from our own. Namely, Ranavat Botanics (California), Evereden (NYC), One Fine Day (NZ), Mukti (Queensland), One Seed (SA), Fella Villas (Bali) and many more.

It’s safe to say that we are now living in the future, a time when chatting to someone on the other side of the world no longer requires a town crier, a pen and paper, a horse or a freight ship. Technology has advanced the pace of our communications and the sooner our business relationships can use it to our advantage, the better we’ll all be for it.

Chances are you may be reading this from another time zone – and even hemisphere. If so, please let us know where in the comments below. We love to hear from you, and even more, love to work together. You know where to find us!

Image credit: Kelsey McClellan