Alchemy Oil / Industry Research, Naming, Identity System,
Package + Bottle Design, Website Development

Still in its early stages of product development, the founder of the unnamed and newly formed hair care company was acutely aware a strong brand was needed and invited Bianca e Nero to handle the rebranding project. Being a startup, they had a limited budget, but what they were lacking in budget they made up for with ambition and scrappiness.

We started with a deep dive to learn as much as we could about the industry where the newly formed company would need to compete and thrive. It was obvious when looking at the competitors in this fast-growing market of African American beauty and hair care, many rely heavily on Africa for names and imagery, for relatability and as shorthand for implying their products are natural. The client was open to not having the brand follow this overly used and tired approach and wanted to buck that established, expected approach.

In contrast, our brand strategy was to tell a deeper story, one that would tell it in a more compelling way, to help the brand stand out and speak to why it exists. Our research also revealed “all natural” really doesn’t mean all natural. In fact, many of the products and companies we saw as competitors incorporate plenty of chemicals, with ingredients difficult to pronounce and definitely not good for our targets’ hair. So we wanted to position them as more than a hair oil company that offers the best all-natural product, but a source for information that educates and makes the end user wiser about their hair.

So we started with the name exploration. When we landed on Alchemy Oil, it seemed to jump out from the list of names presented to the client. It felt like a natural fit given the road the founder has been traveling developing the product. It was more like a vision quest filled with many trials and errors before perfecting the elixir that helps promote and stimulate both growth and healthy hair. But the oil is only part of the bigger story the founder wanted to tell. The brand is more than a hair product. It’s a lifestyle brand that promotes and encourages African American women to exercise, eat healthier, share books and articles, etc., they find interesting.

We wanted the logo to convey the company’s transparency. We incorporated all the ingredients used in the oil (11 essential oils) by having them right up front; it reinforces the brand promise to only use all-natural ingredients that can be pronounced. We wanted the package and bottle design to be simple, yet unexpected. The bottle is glass (not plastic) and the tube is a natural color, raw and unpolished, which we felt was important to connect the design to the earth, brown and green. The brand is eco-friendly and encourages its customers to recycle. It even offers a discount with returned bottles and tubes so the company can recycle them.

We wanted to foster and nurture an open and honest dialogue with the customer. Beyond buying a bottle of oil, they are encouraged to engage with the blog where probing questions are asked, thoughts can be shared, and issues that impact Black woman are discussed and brought to light in an open and inclusive way. Social media plays a huge role when reaching and growing a base of loyal supporters. The T-shirt has become a banner for support and bold statement. We originally designed the shirt to be given away, but it quickly became highly sought after and customers were willing to buy it to showcase the brand.

Results: The brand is really clicking with women. Followers on social media are steadily climbing, requests for guest bloggers have more than doubled since the launch, the product has been featured by several well-known industry folks and the founder has been asked to share the company’s and the founder’s journey on several podcasts. The interest for the oil with hair salons and customers continues to grow.