6 Designers On The Brands Empowering Women Today

by The Dieline on 03/08/2021 | 6 Minute Read

Brands have the ability to make people feel good. To educate and challenge. To empower. Whether it’s adopting a frank and candid tone of voice, influential messaging, or something completely unexpected, many brands are now exploring new ways to inspire—and connect with—women of all ages. 

Why should a period brand be pink and overtly feminine? Or something to be ashamed of and hidden at the back of the cupboard? Does a drinks brand targeted at women have to lean on clichéd phrases or color palettes to be successful? Not today. Can a brand effect change and drive equality? Absolutely.

In recognition of this year’s International Women’s Day, we spoke to six designers on the brands they feel have hit this brief, delivering identities that are truly empowering for women.   

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Kirsty Minns, Creative Director, Mother Design 

When it comes to brands that have empowered women, few have the impact of SuperShe—a private female-only island off the coast of Finland. Since its launch in 2018, the brand—developed by the amazingly talented team at &Walsh studio—has gained a devoted following, not only as a shes-only holiday destination but as a wider app community and spirit brand. 

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Unlike many female-orientated brands, SuperShe doesn’t reduce women to mothers or partners or super bosses. There is no singular prescribed view of what a woman should be. No cliched visual cues, like millennial pink, pastels, or softer fonts. Instead, the identity takes inspiration from protest posters from women’s marches through the ages, instilling a natural strength and sense of cultural movement. 

It’s straight-talking, unapologetic, and no-BS. A brand "for women that know better." Plus, it's thoughtful and smile-inducing. What's not to love?

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Amy Globus, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Team

The Brooklyn-based bottled cocktail company, Wandering Barman, references empowering, historical women on their packaging to represent the bold and fearless consumer they want to reach. To fight the female socialite stereotype and create a confident and distinct brand, the packaging combines eye-catching illustrations of iconic figures like Frida Kahlo, whose legacy has empowered generations of women, and Rosie the Riveter, known for starring in a campaign during WWII to recruit female workers, with the playful names of the cocktails (Swipe Right, Miss Casanova, FOMO).

One of the three founders, Roxane Mollicchi, is passionate about being taken seriously as a young female entrepreneur, particularly in an industry dominated by men. The team lives the brand they’ve created and are giving back to and empowering others through their work—a percentage of the profits get donated to alcohol addiction support groups, and, as they grow, they’re planning to help incarcerated women’s reintegration into society.

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Natalie Redford, Creative Strategist, Robot Food

19/99 Beauty is the first brand in a long time I’ve seen addressing age inclusivity head-on, particularly within beauty. 

We’ve seen an excess of pastel-y, inclusive brands (some more than others) targeted at younger generations. But it’s like no one bothered to make an effort to bridge the cross-generational gap. 

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A lot needs to get better, but age always feels weaponized against women. Too young, and you’re not taken seriously. Too old, and you’re forgotten about altogether. Branding, marketing, advertising—we still haven’t cracked it. 

I like that 19/99 get that older doesn’t mean devoid of fun or style. The brand feels like a movement, with big, bold type and expressive marks, an efficacious nod to the founding make-up artists. Each element feels like it comes from a story or an opinion rather than a trend. 

Naturally, I purchased two pencils I didn’t need. Typical woman. 

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Rowena Curlewis, CEO, Denomination

One of the most empowering things about progressive drinks brands is that they are becoming less gender-focused. Of course, clichéd approaches are still prevalent. Gordon’s Premium Pink Distilled Gin and Jane Walker are recent examples of marketing to women that one could regard as a misstep. 

It’s making less sense to approach brand identity this way. Take rosé. The industry has had to reconsider its approach because it gets consumed by more men than women in the US (Wine Intelligence, 2020). The "brosé" phenomenon is taking hold in Australia and Europe too.

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Squealing Pig—Australia’s number one rosé—is a great example of a brand that has appeal across the board. It's light-hearted without being patronizing. Created by women, it is a brand for everyone. The drinks industry has always been male-dominated, but as record numbers of women breakthrough into senior roles, we see a more enlightened approach. 

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Kellie Chapple, Chief Operating Officer, Bulletproof

A brand that has long resonated with me is DTC menstrual care brand LOLA. I was first drawn to it because the products get made with 100% certified organic cotton, no toxins, dyes, or synthetic fibers, and the brand is smart in so many other ways, too. Not only is it discreet in its look and feel—in stark contrast to the established brands in the category with their condescending pink and floral prints—it’s sophisticated and stylish, with an elegant brandmark and a purposeful color palette. 

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Founded by two women whose mission was to "build the first lifelong brand for a woman’s body, from first period to last hot flash," there’s real substance behind the brand. Since its launch in 2015, LOLA has not only offered period products but also built a platform from which to innovate. It has expanded into sexual wellness products that have the same level of sophistication and style.

LOLA also supports menstrual inequality by donating millions of period products to low-income, underserved communities throughout the US. If we’re to empower all women, this inequality needs to get eradicated.

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Zoe Phillipson, Design Director, STORMBRANDS 

There are so many influential and empowering brand initiatives, from Doves Real Beauty to This Girl Can, but these messages rarely come reflected in the on-pack design. 

Bliss Wine, a female-owned canned wine brand with packaging from OTRO design, is a great example of how this can be done simply and effectively, in this instance by incorporating "a girl owned wine co" onto the back of the can. 

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The color palette breaks the category's typical cues with playful oranges and yellows—not necessarily the colors you’d associate with a Pinot—giving a modern and contemporary aesthetic while still feeling feminine.

Among all the social media and clever advertising campaigns, it’s great to have a "strong brand in the hand." You can imagine picking up a can of Bliss Wine off the supermarket shelf and feeling proud. A "this is for me" moment where women feel empowered by a female-owned and exciting product.

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