This article was written by Savor Beauty creator Angela Jia Kim and Nobi Kashiwagi, a Vogue Art Director and founder of Endash Space in Brooklyn, NY.
Angela: “The problem with being such a passionate entrepreneur is that you have so much going on, and your core message becomes diluted,” said PEOPLE Magazine Deputy Style Editor Sharon Clott Kanter. I had become friendly with her in the previous years, and we were talking about my endeavors.
As we discussed what was important to me, she went through the website, “Let’s edit this out. Cut this. Like a good wardrobe, keep it to the essentials. We need branding hierarchy here. You are a beauty guru with an organic skincare line and spa, an Upper West Side mom and wife. That’s all the public has time to grasp.”
She was right. I was a former concert pianist who had beginner’s luck in business. And I had so many interests and passions. My business portfolio included spas, a skincare line, an organization for women entrepreneurs, conferences, and each endeavor had a different name and brand identity. I had many balls in the air, and everything was starting to feel hurried, superficial, fast. I craved simplicity, connection, quality of work and presence of mind.
It was time to reinvent the brand, streamline the offerings and bring everything under the same umbrella. I painstakingly decided to let go of my beloved skincare collection’s name, Om Aroma & Co., to distill the whole business into one idea: Savor Beauty.
This new name held so much significance for me as an artist. As one friend said, “This is not just a name, it’s now a mantra.” Sharon suggested I collaborate with a major high fashion magazine Art Director to help with the rebranding since they have a strong visual sense about what looks good on camera and in magazines.
A quick search on LinkedIn landed me on Nobi Kashiwagi’s profile, a Vogue Art Director. I saw some of his work online and loved the sophisticated simplicity of his designs.
After an initial meeting, I was confident he was the right person to collaborate with on the re-brand, and it proved to be a match made in heaven. What he discovered and created surprised and thrilled me. He brought out aspects of the brand and my personality I never would have connected.
Nobi: When I first met Angela at Savor Spa to talk about the branding, she showed me the Om Aroma product line. I immediately knew my challenge was to bring the spa and the skincare into one world under Savor Beauty.
As we explored what was important to her, I soon realized that there was actually another major facet to consider, which was Angela herself. I was amazed by her story about how she started—she was an established concert pianist and created natural skincare products for herself. Visually, I saw three completely different brands existing.
Every brand has a personality, uniqueness and something special that no other competitors has. Everyone has a story that can be folded into the brand. In this case, the most interesting thing was obvious to me, her musical background. My job was to get into Angela’s head and see what made her tick; she likes numbers, structure, division and organization. I could also see the very same concepts in music scores, and at that moment I thought to myself, “This is IT!”
In music, each beautiful symbol represents a specific task, and I thought I could use that system in the skincare packaging to give a unique and practical look. Everything from the logo to the labels to the brand mark has a significant musical meaning to tie Angela’s past to the present.
For example, // in music means to pause. This is important to Savor Beauty and is included in the logo to inspire customers to take pause and enjoy life.
Om Aroma has fiercely loyal customers who love the products, and we didn’t want to alienate them. My challenge was to define what to keep from the current design and how to infuse the musical essence into the new label.
If you place the current bottle and the new bottle next to each other, it should feel like a girl becoming a lady.
With the musical inspiration, passion and elegance being added into the new Savor Beauty branding, I hope to have integrated Angela’s past with her present, thus creating a more authentic connection from founder to brand to customer.
Angela: This entire process happened at the same time that we were building our Savor Beauty + Spa in the Hudson Valley — 5000 square feet with retail, spa treatment rooms, our Beauty Kitchen, manufacturing, and the Savor Loft for events.
Six years prior, I had quit my concert career cold turkey and put our Steinway grand piano into storage. The day that the piano movers transported it into the gorgeous sunlit loft, I felt like I was coming home.
When Nobi first presented the musical element in the new branding of Savor Beauty, it was enormously touching. I had never thought to bring the past into the present in such a meaningful way. It brought the soul back into the company, and it made me fall in love with the business again.
When I was on stage performing I had a passionate desire to give an hour of pure happiness to the audience. Now I wish for Savor Beauty to be of service and touch people in a similarly meaningful way—to give them an hour of bliss and a moment of pleasure to help them savor life.
THE 3 MOST IMPORTANT BRAND ELEMENTS
Working on your own brand? We asked Nobi to share the top three most important tips to nail your branding and increase customer response:
First of all, it should look good! That is the bottom line and it’s a given.
Secondly, it should appropriately fit in your market and audience. If you are in the luxury market, the branding should belong in that world. Sometimes you have a favorite brand and you want to make yours just like it, but you have to ask yourself if it’s your story to tell. Remember that authenticity is felt deeply by customers, and it’s important for you to remain authentic to who you are.
Last but not least, you should love it. Branding will last for a long time, sometimes decades, and it will be always with you. When you are designing a new identity, there will always be some people who don’t like it, especially if you are re-designing an already-existing logo. People need time to adjust and familiarize themselves with the new branding, so pick something you love, stay consistent and be confident!
Want to get Nobi’s worksheet for refining your brand? Order your copy of Savor Life Magazine: Volume 2.