Art Techniques | 8 September 2015The Branding of Ivory Soap Share article facebook twitter google pinterest When you’re feeling ill and you want soup, what image pops into your mind? Campbell’s soup, of course. Have you ever wondered why certain brands stick out, or how companies achieve that effect? In Brand Bible, we see how the package design and branding of Ivory Soap was developed to be forefront in the consumer’s mind. In the mid-1800s, soap was mainly a secondary product created from remnants of the candle-making process. Most Americans at that time bathed just once a week; few homes had indoor plumbing, and carting water indoors and heating it for a bath was a laborious affair. Because of this, most people didn’t give soap much thought and usually used the same bar for washing themselves as they did for washing their clothes and other items. Procter & Gamble started as a manufacturer of candles, but founder James Gamble, keen on creating an American soap that could compete with the more luxurious castile soaps from Europe, wanted to expand the business. Working with a chemist on new formulations, Gamble succeeded in creating a unique, silky, white soap that he embedded with air bubbles in order to make it float. In 1879, this was a novel invention, one that provided a unique benefit that would set it apart from its competitors in the marketplace. As the sons of P&G’s founders came of age, they began to assume control of the family business. Realizing that the future belonged to soap manufacturing rather than candle production, they changed the direction of the company and started to increase marketing efforts behind the “White Soap.” According to company lore, a close cousin, Harley Gamble, was sitting in church one Sunday morning and was inspired by Psalm 45: “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.” A devout man, Harley said that the word “ivory” reminded him of purity and would be an excellent association for soap. A new brand was born, and Harley was put in charge of sales. The trademark for Ivory Soap was granted in 1879, featuring decorative serif type set beside P&G’s “man in the moon” logo, which had been in use since 1851. What’s remarkable about the original trademark is how unremarkable it was. Unlike the Coca-Cola trademark, which quickly became an American icon, Ivory’s eventual popularity within the cultural imagination stemmed from the brilliant marketing and sloganeering of Harley Procter. Looking back, it may seem as if Harley was particu- larly obsessed with the idea of purity, but the product he was marketing certainly benefited from his perspective. Not only did “it float”—a benefit that he touted ceaselessly—but this attribute seemed to reinforce the idea of purity. To that end, he hired chemists from across the country to test the actual purity of the product. The researchers reported that the “non-soap” elements amounted to 0.56 percent of the creation. Harley turned this to his advantage and pronounced that Ivory Soap was “99 and 44/100% pure.” The slogan struck such a chord with consumers that it remains in use to this day. Buy from an Online Retailer In North America: Brand Bible is a comprehensive resource on brand design fundamentals. It looks at the influences of modern design going back through time, delivering a short anatomical overview and examines brand treatments and movements in design. You’ll learn the steps necessary to develop a successful brand system from defining the brand attributes and assessing the competition, to working with materials and vendors, and all the steps in between. The author, who is the president of the design group at Sterling Brands, has overseen the design/redesign of major brands including Pepsi, Burger King, Tropicana, Kleenex, and many more. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.