Not So Skin Deep: How Unilever's Personal Care Brands Connect With Consumers

On the surface it doesn’t appear that Axe (Lynx in the UK) and Dove have anything in common aside from their functionality. They each have completely different target audiences and have blatantly differing messaging schemes that reflect this. However, these brands share a fundamental similarity—the common goal of making people feel good about themselves. The incredible success of both these personal care brands on a global scale illustrates exactly how brand owner Unilever expertly listens to their consumers and responds in kind. Untitled

AXE Axe has been garnering attention for years with its racy ad campaigns and suggestive product naming. The brand has built its identity upon the characteristics intrinsic to the emotions, thoughts, and feelings of its target demographic. Not to oversimplify the mind of a male teenager, but it’s safe to assume that teenage boys spend a fair amount of time thinking about sex. On a deeper level, these thoughts and feelings can be associated with basic psychological needs, such as belonging, association, and approval. Axe pairs sexual overtones with humour in the form of hyperbole to achieve perfect irreverent harmony.


Axe's success as a brand stems from its ability to identify primal needs and understand the topography of the environment in which they exist. Axe’s brazen approach in creating their brand identity mirrors the developing mind of their target demographic and demonstrates the brand’s understanding of consumer wants and needs.

DOVE Dove launched its Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004, in efforts to spark a global conversation about the need to expand the definition of beauty. This campaign was as huge success for Dove as it increased conversation surrounding the brand, generated goodwill, and improved overall sales.

Dove saw an opportunity to engage a frustrated audience in a new and clever way. The campaign took on a friendly tone in that it didn’t explicitly criticize the unnaturally thin bodies of the models we were so used to seeing in advertisements. On the contrary, it encouraged the acceptance of all body types. Dove is unmistakably a Brave Brand, claiming numerous prizes and recognitions since the initial launch of the Campaign for Real Beauty.


UNITED UNDER ONE MISSION The vast differences between the Axe and Dove advertising campaigns have been widely noted. Generally, identifying inconsistencies in a company’s messaging reveals a weak mission or poor follow through, but upon closer analysis of Unilever, there is evidence of just the opposite.

Unilever allows each brand to maintain authenticity by allowing leeway and individuality in messaging scheme. Their brands are successful because they all tell their own story. Unilever’s philosophy is relatively simple, “We help people feel good, look good and get more out of life with brands and services that are good for them and good for others.” It seems that both of these brands have found their place under Unilever’s mission.

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