< Home 

L'Oréal Brandstorm - rethinking branding and packaging for Redken for Men.

Jan 2006 - May 2006
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
University Project

Every year L'Oréal holds a competition among leading European universities to find the top candidates for their marketing and brand management positions. During several months we had to work with vast amount of market data and come up with a strategy and the creative concept to increase brand loyalty for the Redken for Men brand. We finished as Dutch finalists.

In a nutshell:

  • University branding project
  • We were naive, poor and pimply (but very motivated) university students
  • Had to dig through a lot of serious market research
  • Conceptualized our own strategy and creative concept 
  • Worked with a professional studio on 3D renders
  • Finished as Dutch finalists


During my 2nd year of Bachelor (International Business Administration at Rotterdam School of Management), I participated in a branding competition called L'Oréal Brandstorm. The company has been holding these competitions every year for various brands in its portfolio. In 2006 it was Redken for Men - a high-end hair products brand for men, used and sold exclusively through selected hair salons.

The challenge was to help L'Oréal to re-market the line to increase repeat purchases of the product while keeping the distribution limited, not to saturate the premium image of the brand. So I joined forces with two other clueless Bachelor students like me and accepted the challenge. All the other teams were from Marketing Masters with a bunch of relevant internships under the belt - we thought we had no chance. We were pretty motivated to kick some ass though. 

1. Inspiration

We spent the first couple of weeks doing our research. L'Oréal has provided us with vast amounts of data on sales, markets, distribution channels and buyer personas. They certainly knew a lot about the people buying their products and the markets. It was a very professional organization and we knew we had to do our best job just to meet the standards.

After interviewing a number of people in the organization, we also went out and did some field research. Not only it involved getting new stylish haircuts, but also talking to people working at the salons, as well about 20 men visiting the salons. We talked to these men about their attitudes, motivations, expectations, shopping patterns and tried to better understand their world in general.

By the end of this phase we had a few insights - the men didn't perceive the products as being extremely different from what was available at department stores (given the 2-3x price difference) and typically ran out of them way before they needed their next haircut (and could thus buy them). So they just settled at whatever they could find during their next visit to the supermarket. There was no strong incentive for the next product to necessarily be from Redken. Of course, L'Oréal brand managers already knew that, and that’s what they wanted us to find out.

2. Ideation

So how do you increase brand loyalty in a highly-competitive consumer goods market (especially for men who have quirky shopping attitudes)? To answer that question we started looking for strategies that other brands have used in similar market conditions. The way Gillette was marketing their razors was one of the most fascinating examples. Almost taking a loss on the sale of the razor, the company then marks its blades at almost 5000%! More importantly, once a man buys a razor - he'll be very unlikely to switch. That’s how you market a commodity!

This concept really inspired us and we got to the drawing board. After a number of rough prototype ideas we had our concept. It was simple: a solid high-end metal container, anchoring the men to the brand, with interchangeable colorful product "cartridges" that they could buy at the salons or order online. The idea was that having the container would make it more difficult for men to switch.

A solid metal container with an interchangeable plastic cartridge containing the product.

Various products’ cartridges would have different colors.

Some novel ways to open the containers...
(kind of funny to look at this years later)

Working with L'Oréal’s agency on designing the 3D mocks

From 50 teams we made it through 3 rounds of tough presentations - all the way to the Dutch finals where we came in close second. It was fascinating to see how branding, strategy, marketing and creative worked together at such a professional organization. 

Thank you for reading! Here are other projects you might find interesting to learn about:

McKinsey & Company

Developing a lifestyle adjustment program for new diabetes type II patients.

McKinsey & Company

Creating a vision for citizen experience of the future for a government in the Middle East.

McKinsey & Company

Reimagining core customer journeys for a large Russian bank.

McKinsey & Company

Designing a content-driven eCommerce experience to help women find their perfectly-fitting bra online.


Designing world’s first wave of Augmented Reality (AR) experiences.

Personal project

UXKit - world’s most comprehensive kit of UX methods.

Personal project

Storyboarding library
for Sketch.

Personal project

Inspiring millennials to reconnect with nature.

Personal project

Building GoPro for music

Photo stories:

 Nazare
 The Race of Gentlemen
 Environment
 U-Hauling Ass
 California


 Instagram
 Soundcloud
 LinkedIn
 Resume (CV)


 Send me a message

Copyright (c) 2021. Martin Ahe