The aim of my essay was to look at the extent of stereotypes within branding towards women. Through my essay I looked at the many visual strategies applied by brands to target women, whilst assessing the stereotypical influence within these.
I identified through my extended essay that sectors such as cosmetics and toiletries apply the stereotypes heavily and one of my main concerns with this is that these products actually have the same functions and purposes for both genders, and therefore have no need to be gender specific. Through looking at stereotypes and how these are formed I learnt that over time exposure to such visually connoted stereotypes can lead to the perpetuation of female stereotypes, as it is inevitable that over a long period of time and exposure to such products that women will be influenced by the messages these brands are communicating with the use of stereotypes. There is an ethical issue here in regards to the gendering of such products, and I hope that my practical responds to this showing a more ethical/less stereotypical brand.
I felt so strongly about this issue that I decided for my practical to evidence that such toiletry brands do not need to be gender specific and applied so heavily with female stereotypes, in order to be engaging. My aim was therefore to produce an engaging, gender neutral toiletry brand and apply this to a selection of products looking at packaging, and how this is an extension of a brand. This was important as within my essay I looked at gender connotation within packaging and shape, so was cautious to remain as neutral as possible with the packaging I used. Throughout the practical brief I was concentrating on all visual and even linguistic elements of the brand, and ensuring they were gender neutral. This included colour choices, use of imagery and selected names and descriptions.
It was important to build a concept for the brand to be based on to make it more engaging, whilst still gender neutral. I decided to focus the brand on mint as I learnt that it is a fragrance both genders enjoy and that it actually has cleansing benefits. I then built the concept around this as the key ingredient and scent. Therefore the brand 'Mint', and 'Mint' products are designed to appeal to both males and females, whilst avoiding the use of gender stereotypes.
As my essay was broken into different elements of branding from language and naming to colour and shape, whilst looking at stereotypes within these elements, as I went through the branding process I was able to consider what I had learnt about these elements and the ways they can connote stereotypes and in turn this assisted the building of my gender neutral brand as I was cautious to not connote stereotypes.
Taking one theory I looked at within my essay as an example of how I applied the knowledge gained through the writing of my essay, De Bono's Lateral Thinking implies that designers should go against the common, obvious and the often used in order to stand out amongst competitors. In terms of toiletry brands this can be used to understand that by going against the common, stereotypical designs a brand can be more engaging due to its point of difference within the sector. In turn, this suggests that a gender neutral toiletry brand such as 'Mint' should stand out and attract attention due to the level of difference in comparison to the many overly pink female toiletry brands.