A stalwart on these shelves has been the classic skincare brand Nivea. Being over 100 years old, it’s an iconic brand that is globally recognised by its round blue logo.

From its humble beginnings in a German chemist’s 
lab, today Nivea has over 1600 products, which are sold in 170 countries worldwide. In fact, according to the brand owner, German cosmetics company Beiersdorf, a Nivea product is bought every six seconds around the world.

However, this huge success and expansion into new product categories, such as sun protection and shaving cream, has meant that the brand was no longer consistent. Different products had different logo, colour and packaging variations.

“In the past, there were too many Nivea design expressions on the shelf,” admits Ralph Gusko, a Beiersdorf board member responsible for brands and supply chain. “A new product design was therefore necessary to ensure a consistent brand appearance that creates a tangible expression of the brand values.”

Beiersdorf embarked on a new design strategy to refocus the Nivea brand in order to achieve an advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace. To help with the redesign, it employed the services of famed industrial designer Yves Behar and his team at the San Francisco-based design firm Fuseproject.

“Nivea was always around during my childhood, whether it was the tin on my mother’s shelf or the inflatable blue beach balls we always had at the beach. So my first thoughts on being selected to work on this project were, ‘Wow, I get to redesign something from my childhood’,” says Behar.

As this was such a significant project, Beiersdorf 
established an internal design management team 
of more than 200 employees from every department of the organisation to work with Fuseproject’s designers. Together they formulated a design brief that focused on renewing all aspects of the Nivea brand.

This was challenging because, on the one hand, they wanted to reinvigorate the brand, but, on the other, they wanted to maintain the familiarity that consumers 
feel for it. “Our aim was to bring Nivea ‘home’. To strip the years of added graphical layers, shadows, extraneous elements, and get back to the essence of what Nivea has always been about: simplicity, quality, trust, attainability,” describes Behar.

The inspiration for the new logo came from the 
original 1925 round blue tin with its distinctive white 
lettering, which reflected the minimalism of the emerging Bauhaus design movement. It was also around this time that Nivea became heralded as a high-quality and affordable mass-market product. “The history of 
the Nivea logo is amazing, and I knew we wanted 
to respect the Bauhaus typography and the logo,” 
says Behar.

“The letter form and more importantly the letter 
spacing has some idiosyncrasies, but instead of taking 
out the original designer’s intended fingerprints, we decided to leave it as is. On the other hand, we placed the logo in a circle, well proportioned and in the sig-
nature blue. The Nivea type seems at home there, and at the same time fresh again.”

This new logo was to become a key element of the 
rebrand and thankfully the 200-strong design management team gave it the thumbs up. “The team at Nivea are incredibly passionate about the brand; there is a real sense of pride and ownership. Of course, that makes for a lot of opinions, but at the same time, the whole company fell in love with the new logo, and this is when I knew we had a real shot at making an important change at Nivea,” comments Behar.

To complement the new logo, the packaging would consist of a predominantly blue and white colour scheme and all graphic elements would be simple yet dynamic. The designers believed that by simplifying, the Nivea visual language would offer a clearer expression of the brand values.

The structural packaging has also been redesigned, with all the caps and closures of the bottles featuring a sloping blue top with the logo embossed into it. 
“This blue top and raised Nivea font are a tactile and high-quality detail. We chose to make the top of the product an additional recognisable element,” explains Behar. “To us, the slanted top was a way to express presentation and visibility. By angling it down, customers can see the top and reach for the functional part of the packaging.”

The hope is that the design of the bottle will not only give the brand presence on the shelf but also provide an enjoyable experience when used at home. “Overall, the simplified graphics on the front of the packaging and the symmetrical bottle shape contribute to a new sense of confidence, which is not about the endless pursuit of lookalikes that the industry typically exhibits,” comments Behar.

Another reason why Fuseproject was specifically chosen for this project is due to its experience in sustainable design. “Every project we do offers an opportunity to push for something more environmentally considerate,” says Behar.

This was important to Beiersdorf, as the organisation’s goal is that by 2020 it would have reduced its carbon footprint by 30 per cent per product sold. It felt that Fuseproject would be able to put them on a path to achieve this ambitious goal.

“In partnership with Nivea’s engineers and logistics, 
we were able to reduce 10 per cent of plastics and 
23 per cent of the labels. Now think about the millions of jars and bottles shipped, and suddenly those saving numbers are staggering,” explains Behar. “In addition, in shipping we can place more bottles on a pallet, which means that not only the packaging itself uses less materials, but also that the shipping volume and weight can be maximised.”

Nivea’s new packaging is currently being rolled out across all product lines and categories. The hope is that this new distinctive packaging will help the brand stand out from the clutter on the shelves to renew emotional connections with current users and forge new ones with potential customers.  

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