‘Go big or go home’? Branding expert rates Lunar New Year beauty collections
By Amanda Lim
- Last updated on
Lunar New Year is a festival rich with symbolism and iconography but creating a successful special edition collection is not as easy as it looks. We speak to the creative director of Anthem Worldwide, Spencer Ball, to find out what makes a collection worthy of ushering the Year of the Rat.
The Lunar New Year is the perfect opportunity for brands to consumers how well they understand their culture.
Ball highlighted that the significance of the occasion sets very high stakes for brands.
“It gives brands a fleeting opportunity to express themselves on different terms and to capture the current zeitgeist. For major festivals and brands there’s also a huge element of anticipation from consumers and the industry. How you respond can set the bar by which your brand will be judged for the rest of the year,” he told CosmeticsDesign-Asia.
For beauty brands looking to capitalise on this significant event, Ball’s advice is to go big or go home.
“You have to fully commit. Do it well or don’t do it at all. For packaging, this means investing creative time, doing the homework and planning production well in advance,” said Ball.
The instantly recognisable symbols and icons of Lunar New Year can be one of the biggest hurdles for a designer.
“We’ve witnessed how easily global brands can wrong-foot Chinese cultural taboos. The wealth of Chinese New Year iconography is visual playground for marketeers and designers but tread carefully and treat with the utmost respect,” cautioned Ball.
Red and gold are traditional colours of prosperity while each year is represented by one of the twelve zodiac animals from Chinese astrology. This year is the Year of the Rat.
“Any brand can slap on the red or apply this year’s animal to their packaging and promptly melt into the festive milieu… You need to find the intersection between your brand story and the theme of Lunar New Year. Then thoughtfully bring together your visual assets with well-chosen elements from the wealth of imagery associated with the Chinese calendar,” said Ball.
Instead, Ball highlighted that it was more important for brands to retain their authenticity.
“It doesn’t have to be original, but it absolutely has to look like it belongs your brand. An understated design approach can help avoid the annual cliché-fest, but then it must connect with your brand on a higher level and elevate the consumer experience.”
This year, Ball observed signs that more brands are taking a more long-term approach with their designs.
“Not surprisingly, there are plenty of rats – and mice posing as rats. But it’s good to see more brands not taking the zodiac path and exploring other themes and takes on their brand. There is more use of perennial symbols, but with a higher level of craft. This points to brands thinking of longer lifecycles and avoiding throw-away designs. Which would be a welcome approach given changing consumer attitudes towards packaging.”
Click through the gallery to see Ball’s thoughts on some of this year’s Lunar New Year beauty collections.