Old Faithful

Brand development and marketing

Branding a shave and beard oil business from the ground up

I’ve told this to so many people recently.

Sometime in Autumn last year, a guy who had hired me to teach some design courses for the company he worked at attached an odd question to the end of his e-mail.

— What shaving foam do you use?

I thought that maybe he had made a mistake and had pressed CMD + C before sending. But no, that guy turned out to be a client and a friend in a whole different respect than the one we had previously dealt in.

I replied telling him Gillette or something like that. He says: Don’t use that one. I’ll bring you some oil next time I see you.

White label

And that’s when we started to get to know Gareth properly. It turns out, that in his spare time, Gareth Daniel had been producing brilliant batches of oil for shaving and beard care. All natural. No chemicals. No preservatives.

The first time I used the product, I did so with a blunt razor (because I was already in the bath when I discovered it was blunt). It was a perfect shave with no irritation.

This never happens.

I got in touch with Gareth to say that this was the best shave that I had ever had and that the oils that he had replaced the chemicals with were so refreshing that my wife and mother had both remarked about how good my skin looked after using it.

I was so taken with the product and with Gareth’s enthusiasm for the formula that I suggested we build a brand for it together.

Standing out in a crowded market

If you google shave oil, you’ll get over 21M results. This is a crowded marketplace.

We wanted something different to the overly coy beardy brands that are out there right now. We wanted something that everyone could identify with regardless of age, cultural background or musical taste (so many hipsters).

What we wanted was something about the ritual of shaving or beard care. Most people who wet shave, we found, don’t do so in a big hurry – there are actual blades involved. Most people view shaving as a break from their daily life – when they can go into the bathroom and spent some time alone.

Playing on this sentiment and the quality of the product. So we called it:

Old Faithful. Trusted. True. Tested. No fads. Purity.

Waldeinsamkeit – being alone in the woods

Right from the start we knew that the branding – including the way that we communicate with the world – would be important in the success of Old Faithful.

We became pretty obsessed with the idea of ritual and found that the closest feeling that we could find to the idea of going into the bathroom to spend some time alone while shaving was the German idea of Waldeinsamkeit – the feeling of being alone in the woods.

Just picture it. You’ve had a crazy busy week in work and you basically hate the office walls. You come home. You notice that it’s time for a shave. You step into the bathroom. You open the bottle and immediately the natural scent of the oils transports you to some piney forest.

All is well.

Shaving becomes a refuge. Beard care becomes a refuge. When you rub those few drops into your face or massage them into your beard, you suddenly realise: you’re at peace with the world and no longer resenting your boss’s dumb decisions or the colleague who stole your stapler.

That’s the idea that we wanted to conjure with Old Faithful.

A visual brand

Visually, the brand associates itself with quality and surety very quickly. The darkness of the labelling and brand mark that we created conjures the feeling of trust and masculinity.

Everything from the label to the recipe cards that accompany the smaller bottles of Old Faithful have passed across our desk for approval before going out into the world. This stuff is important. It’s the detail that makes a brand like Old Faithful successful when so many people are creating DIY oil brands which lack quality and consideration.

Even the packaging and mail out of Old Faithful is considered. We place the labels on the lower right hand side of the box’s face. The box is made from recycled cardboard. It is filled with shredded waste paper to prevent the bottles from smashing during transit. Everything in the box (except the bottle) can be used to kindle a fire if you find yourself getting a little carried away with the back to the woods metaphor.

Oh, and wherever it is physically and logistically possible (i.e. no time delay for local deliveries), we hand deliver the boxes to avoid pollution caused by shipping.

What we learned

A screenshot of the Old Faithful website which is based on Shopify
A screenshot of the Old Faithful website which is based on Shopify

This project is one of our favourites. Right from the start we knew it wasn’t going to be like any other project. For a start: the client quickly became a friend as well as a client. That’s how we like to do business. We believe in being completely open and honest and Gareth has embraced and been very accepting of our way of doing branding projects: research, trial, evaluation, implementation.

Another cool thing about this project was considering everything about the brand. Not just the visual but also the unseen details and even the business model. The only thing that we didn’t get our hands stuck into was the oil itself – we thought it best left to the master!

Branding a physical project is great fun. It’s definitely something we’d love to do more regularly. In fact, if you’d like to discuss a project like this, you should get in touch. Just click here.