Sustainable skincare start-up Optiat emerges victorious from the Dragons’ Den
Sustainable skincare start-up Optiat emerges victorious from the Dragons’ Den to relaunch as UpCircle, with strategic brand support from creative brand design agency Studio More and writing agency Reed Words. The two agencies worked with Optiat to create a new brand that enables the founders to tell a richer, more consistent story, building a visual and verbal platform that can flex and grow with the business.
In August 2018, Optiat’s founders, siblings William and Anna Brightman, appeared on the BBC programme Dragons’ Den, where two dragons, Tej Lalvani and Touker Suleyman offered them funding of £50,000 for 30% of the business. But the Dragons had one condition: the founders had to improve the branding and packaging of their products, which were seen as inconsistent and confusing.
Optiat had already identified this point and a rebranding project was underway with their creative partners Studio More. Nikita Yan, Managing Partner at Studio More says: “Our analysis suggested that the brand needed to focus on its positive impact in the world, standing for something bigger to fulfil its growth potential.”
Studio More’s strategy provided the perfect platform and category insight for Reed Word to build the tone of voice and the new name.
The brand’s original name, Optiat, is an acronym for ‘one person’s trash is another’s treasure’, but as Orlaith Wood of Reed Words explains, it just wasn’t working. She says: “It’s an interesting name but only once you’ve learnt what it means. It needs explaining, which makes it too forgettable to anyone who doesn’t understand it.”
To find the new name, the Reed Words team drew on its extensive experience of helping clients find names for everything from energy companies and travel websites, to toilet paper and even new sports. With Optiat’s founders, they carefully considered the brand’s focus on sustainability and promoting a circular economy before settling on the new name.
Wood says: “The word UpCircle captured the idea of positively re-using old things, with the ‘up’ element suggesting an elevated, uplifting purpose.”
All round better skincare
Reed Words produced a messaging toolkit, containing guidance on everything from the UpCircle elevator pitch to the wording on the company’s business cards. It introduced the key tagline ‘All round better skincare’, as well as packaging guidance templates, focused on boosting the shelf appeal of UpCircle’s products in the crowded skincare sector, and it offered guidance on the brand’s social media tone of voice.
Wood says: “It’s so important to strike a consistent tone across every channel, from packaging to social media posts and even company stationery. Copy must work as hard for a brand as any visual design element, flexing across mediums to build something that feels coherent and integrated. This kind of holistic solution is only possible when you take a strategic approach, really considering the big picture and collaborating closely with the brand’s visual designers.”
Building the brand’s future
Yan says: “Our partnership with UpCircle is a great example of Studio More’s ethos in action: Building Lasting Brand Futures. The core idea behind our design is to transform ‘All round better skincare’ and circular economy into the visual identity, creating a unified and consistent brand message.”
Studio More worked as brand guardian throughout the rebrand project, creating everything from brand identity, to packaging, to digital, including coordinating help from creative collaborators such as Reed Words, to ensure a holistic brand experience on- and offline.
The result is a consistent look and feel that unifies the company’s products, and a well-defined in-depth brand story and values that improve the brand’s focus. The clear and simple design approach for UpCircle ensures that the brand sits comfortably among the new generation of beauty brands that are aesthetically tuned to stand out.
Nailing the tone
William at UpCircle says: “It’s incredibly hard to stand out in a sector as crowded as skincare. You must have a compelling and consistent brand and it’s vital to really nail the tone – visually and verbally. That requires brilliant creativity and close collaboration between the teams responsible for copy and visual design.
“Studio More and Reed Words helped us to find exactly the right look, feel and tone for our brand, giving us a solid platform on which to build future success. More than this, they made it look easy.