M.A.C. Cosmetics Rebrand Case Study

Description: During my second year of college, my corporate branding course required us to give an existing company a complete rebrand. The project began with developing a new logo, then building out a new identity for the company. We were then given the opportunity to extend the brand into appropriate marketing materials.

Client: Self-directed (academic)

Category: Branding

The Brand: My decision to rebrand M.A.C. Cosmetics was influenced by the disconnect I saw between their values and how they visually represented themselves. This company is built on inclusivity, being bold and pushing boundaries, and I wanted their brand to show that.

During the process of sketching and ideation, I found I was gravitating towards a handwritten logo. It had a feeling a movement and excitement while hinting at the idea of it being drawn out with lipstick. I took this idea and ran with it, executing a layered logo that played with bold colours. To reinforce the feeling of edginess, I decided to use colour blocking and sharp angles to bring this brand to life. The packaging pays homage to M.A.C.’s current look by keeping the black bottle but distinguishing the lines of products using the brand colours on the caps and labels.

Target Demographic:

Age: 16–45+ years old

Culture: Any age, race, culture, sexes and socio-groups. M.A.C. prides themselves in being all-inclusive. These individuals will have an average to high income.

Artistic: These individuals have a love for makeup and the transformation it can make possible. They believe makeup brings confidence and allows them to explore their creativity and develop their personal style.

Ideation Moodboard

Research: While researching other cosmetic brands I noticed a few trends in their logo designs. There was an abundance of lowercase sans serif logos and a lack of symbols to go along with brand identities. What was interesting was the lack of artistry in the logo design. For such an artistic and creative industry I thought this would be the main trend of makeup companies, but it appears the opposite is true. When reading into the history of M.A.C. I kept finding words such as edgy, bold, inclusive and editorial. I wanted to take these themes and make it obvious to the target market that this is what M.A.C. is.

Bad Ideas: In the ideation stage of logo design there’s always a few ideas that don’t quite meet the mark, but for some reason, you explore them anyway. For a while, I was stuck on having a border or “box” around a bold handwritten logo. It wasn’t looking right to me, and I realized I was going too literal with my concept of M.A.C. “pushing boundaries” and “thinking outside the box”. Needless to say, that concept was scrapped very quickly after that. Another bad idea was to try to implement a pattern. I’ve always liked the idea of brands have their own custom patterns to further visualize their identity, but it wasn’t working out for this project. I wanted to take the “M” letterform from the logo and flip it around in all directions to create a crazy exciting pattern, and that’s exactly how it turned out: crazy. It wasn’t translating the original themes I had in mind and it was holding me back from creating clean and smart designs.

The Solution

The Logo: The final logo is a drastic change from the current one. It’s a textured handwritten font with three layers, showcasing the three new brand colours. The logo suggests it could have been written with lipstick on a mirror; fitting for a cosmetic brand. This logomark shows excitement, is bold and allows the brand to reveal some of its edge. This logo is also easily changeable in that the three colours can change depending on different campaigns M.A.C. may launch.

The Colours & Typography: I wanted to include a variety of colours in the logo but avoid making it look too much like a rainbow. There still needed to be some order in the chaos, so I decided to take a dark, medium, and light shade. The dark being the deep purple, the medium being the sky blue, and the light being the electric yellow. You don’t often see these colours being used together and they compliment each other nicely so I felt it was the right fit for the rebrand. For the brand’s typography, I chose a modern sans serif to bring structure to the wild look of the logo. This typeface reinforces the boldness of the brand and makes a statement throughout the marketing materials.

The Graphics: For the stationery, I explored shapes with sharp angles because I felt the brand needed another way to show their edge. By bleeding triangles off the edges and using them to colour block, it is easily seen how exciting this brand can be. These shapes can also be used in marketing materials such as posters to mask editorial images.

Why it Works: This design solution really shows the true values M.A.C. holds. A company that stands for inclusivity, being bold, edgy and original, should not be afraid to showcase that in their own brand. This rebrand takes being bold to the next level and should inspire confidence in the target audience. With M.A.C. being a leader in the makeup industry, their brand should show the same passion in their look that their customers have for their company.

Conclusion: Having never done work on a cosmetics company, I found this industry to be great for taking design risks in order to stand out. Their customers love art, so why not show it in their brand? I believe there is so much opportunity to create amazing things in this industry. I learned that developing ideas for the appropriate marketing materials is very important in order to bring your rebrand to life. Stationery is one of the main aspects of branding, but don’t stop there. Research to see what else your brand should and could be applied to. For me, as soon as I developed the design for the packaging, I could really see this rebrand existing in the market. Overall, this rebrand was out of my comfort zone but it ended up being one of my favourite projects and one I am most proud of.