One of the key chapters of my new book 'Brand Dynamics' (written with Jane Wang, a professor at CEIBS, which will be published by Palgrave McMillan end 2016) relates to the construction of a brand over time. All brands aspire to become a Visionary Brand - conveying a 'vision of the world'. We show that this is, in reality, the result of a long process - and we illustrate it with the Dove example.
Dove was launched in 1955 by Lever Brothers, with a single product: a soap. 25% of the formula of the soap consisted of a new ingredient - stearic acid – in other words, a cleansing cream. Dove was launched as a 'beauty bar' that moisturises the skin ("creams the skin") and not as a soap ("does not dry like soap").
Dove was thus unmistakably launched as a Performance Brand ("Creams your Skin" - which changed over time to "moisturises"). In the first film the miracle ingredient is strongly highlighted: the brand is as much an Ingredient Brand.
For 20 years the same message was repeated, but a major innovation took place in the 70s: the brand asked clients to relate their experiences to promote the benefits of its 'Beauty Bar'.
These testimonials grew - and gradually incorporated the idea that using the products of the brand that make them more beautiful enhances femininity and self-esteem.
The brand thus acquired a core element of its identity: the proximity to real women. Thus when Dove launched its "Campaign for Real Beauty" in 2004 it stayed true to its values. It merely recognised that the representation of female beauty had evolved: a social norm of beauty had been established. Dove therefore chose to draw on its values (we help real women to build their self-esteem) to put forward the idea that every woman can be beautiful (without seeking to conform at all costs to this social standard).
The 'Sketches' Campaign (2013) is therefore consistent with the brand's values, its history AND showcasing of a contemporary vision of beauty. The Dove storytelling is now that of a true vision of the world: the brand's mission is to help each woman build her self-esteem.
Dove thus evolved over the last 50 years from an Ingredient Brand + Performance Brand to a Visionary Brand.