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Branding campaigns for women

1st May 2014

Regardless of the type of business, once an audience has been identified it’s the turn of the marketing strategists to come up with a way to reach those people in a way that demonstrates their need for that product.

Certain companies know whether their product predominantly speaks to women or to men, and so will design their branding and ad campaigns around that knowledge; while others will look for a way to speak to a wider audience that does not adhere to gender stereotypes but more human needs and desires.

Cuckoo Design takes a look at whether branding campaigns designed solely to reach women really work, and whether there is still a place for the established gender stereotypes in the advertising world, or have they finally passed their sell by date?

“Don’t worry darling, you didn’t burn the beer!”

Vintage adverts are often horrifying and absurd to modern women, despite the fact that in the 1930s, 40s and 50s these adverts were aimed at women. In the twenty-first century, creating a branding campaign for women will more frequently be centred around female empowerment and solidarity rather than husband-pleasing. However, are women receptive to this form of advertising, or does it depend on the product?

In 2014 you would have presumed that it would be easier to find an example of a vacuum cleaner featuring a male using the vacuum, however, even when vacuum inventor James Dyson is advertising his own product it is still the women doing the vacuuming.

It may be more conducive to suggest that women are responding not to who is presenting the product to them, but the usefulness and value for money of the appliance. It is no longer targeting women who are longing to create a beautiful home environment for their hard-working husbands, but men and women who need efficiency because cooking and cleaning is not their occupation.

Do gender stereotypes work?

On the other end of the spectrum there are advertising campaigns aimed at a female dominated audience that perhaps shouldn’t be. For example, light, low calorie foods with attractive packaging are often designed as such for the benefit of women while Yorkie bars have retained their long-standing slogan ‘Not for girls.’ These two polar opposite branding campaigns appeal to many women for two very different reasons; the fact that the latter states clearly in its tag line that it is not for girls can provoke a rebellious reaction, while the former enables women to eat a low calorie snack without compromising flavour.

Each food targets a specific gender stereotype: women want to be healthy and slim, and they also appreciate attractive packaging. While men want thick, chunky chocolate in a bold wrapper with a large, block coloured font. The adverts for each leave little room for the opposite sex to feel as though they too can enjoy that product without assuming the stereotypes of the other.

In a break away from this convention, Russian brand Cherkashin Meat Factory created an advert for its processed sandwich meat that showed sofa surfing blokes in vests and a model-esque woman in a pink bathroom, all running towards their fridges for their sandwich meat snack. The advert closes with the tag line ‘Commercial breaks are made for it’, suggesting that this stereotypically manly snack is about taste and convenience, not whether the consumer is male or female. However, is the presence of the glamorous girl enough to give the product the feminine touch it’s looking for?

Does Dove speak to women?

The cosmetic brand has spent the last decade telling women that whatever their shape, size or skin type, they are beautiful and Dove has a product for them. They stopped using models and use “real” women instead, in an effort to empower all women and defy any unrealistic expectations they hold themselves to.

Their message is a poignant one that has worked to boost the brand’s profile and expand its range of products, because the company realised its primary audience of women of 25 and up, and what those women wanted to see, hear and identify with in adverts.

Make your brand work for you

Whether your audience is women, men, children or a sub-section of any of the above, identifying that demographic and understanding what they want from a product will enable you to strengthen your brand.

At Cuckoo Design we help our clients work through these brand challenges in our brand workshop, HeadSpace. We work collaboratively with you, to think creatively and strategically about how your brand should evolve according to your customers’ needs and expectations. To speak to one of our team today please call us on 0161 839 9337 for more information.

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