‘Normal’ Is & Needs To Be A Term Of The Past

March 16, 2021 Sarah Cavill

“We're saying no to ‘normal’ and ‘yes’ to positive beauty,” said Unilever in a recent announcement about the launch of its “Positive Beauty” vision and strategy. Adding, “74% of people want the beauty and personal care industry to reflect a broader definition of beauty.” Recent consumer research from Unilever showed consumers think the word “normal” has a negative connotation, and Unilever found that this feeling particularly prevalent when it comes to issues of beauty, ethnicity and sexual orientation, with respondents noting that beauty brands’ definition of “normal” can be too narrow and exclusive. 

While the word “normal” means different things to different brands and audiences, many brands have chosen to innovate their products, services and marketing to be more diverse, leaving old ideas of normal in the past to become more inclusive and drive awareness.

Unilever Says #YesToPositiveBeauty And Launches Huge Initiative To Challenge ‘Normal’

In support of its mission to do away with “normal,” Unilever pledged “to spend €2 billion annually with businesses and suppliers owned and led by people from under-represented groups, and to increase the diversity of the people involved in the production of our [Unilever’s] advertising – on-screen and behind the camera,” changing the narrative around “what’s normal.” In January 2021, Unilever announced a series of “ambitious commitments and actions” from climate change to supporting small businesses, all centered around the brand purpose of inclusivity and positive beauty while continuing to scale Unilever’s immense reach. 

Crayola Helps Children Draw People From All Over The World


Kids today may not believe that a peach-colored crayon used to be labeled “flesh.” To be more reflective of diverse populations, recently Crayola released Colors of the World skin tone crayons. “With the world growing more diverse than ever before, Crayola hopes our new Colors of the World crayons will increase representation and foster a greater sense of belonging and acceptance,” said Crayola CEO Rich Wuerthele. “We want the new Colors of the World crayons to advance inclusion within creativity and impact how kids express themselves.” The crayons include 24 new skin colors plus four hair and four eye colors. They were developed with Victor Casale, former chief chemist at MAC cosmetics and current CEO of MOB Beauty, over the course of eight months to get the colors just right. The Crayola Colors of the World colors represent “more than 40 global skin tones across the world.”

Band-Aid Introducing Range Of Bandages For Variety Of Skin Tones

In June 2020, Band-Aid announced that it would be introducing a range of bandages for Black and Brown skin, after previously only offering bandages in shades that matched the skin of people of European descent. On Instagram, the brand said, “We are committed to launching a range of bandages in light, medium and deep shades of Brown and Black skin tones that embrace the beauty of diverse skin.” Recently, in the comments on the original Instagram announcement, a Band-Aid spokesperson offered an update that the new line of Band-Aids will be available later this year. 

Tru-Colour, founded in 2013, already offers bandages in a range of skin tones, and the brand garnered attention in 2019 when a customer Tweeted about the novel experience of finally having a bandage that matched his skin tone. “When I saw the brown bandage, it was just beautiful,” said Dominique Apollon, the Tru-Colour customer. “I felt a tad ridiculous feeling that way, but it really just felt like I belonged, like I was welcomed, like I was valued.”

Barbie Shero Series Introduces Role Models From The Real World

After 50 years of Barbie, Mattel tinkered to make her more modern and relatable to girls today, both off and online. Blonde hair and blue eyes may have been “normal” for dolls generations ago, but Barbie wanted to create inspiring Barbies that look like children everywhere. The Shero collection of Barbies, featuring heroic women from all walks of life, including mathematician Katherine Johnson and gymnast Gabby Douglas, started in 2015 and introduces new “sheroes” every year. In 2018, Lisa McKnight, SVP and global head of Barbie & dolls portfolio for Mattel, explained, “As a brand that inspires the limitless potential in girls, Barbie will be honoring its largest line up of role models timed to International Women’s Day, because we know that you can’t be what you can't see. Girls have always been able to play out different roles and careers with Barbie and we are thrilled to shine a light on real-life role models to remind them that they can be anything.” 

P&G Supports Trans & Nonbinary Community With Packaging Changes On Products

Period products are trying to make their marketing more inclusive of trans and nonbinary communities, who are often overlooked in advertising and marketing. Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) Always line of sanitary products removed the Venus symbol, typically associated with women, from its branding in order to be more inclusive. “For over 35 years Always has championed girls and women, and we will continue to do so,” explained P&G at the time the brand was evaluating the need for the marketing and packaging change. “We're also committed to diversity and inclusion and are on a continual journey to understand the needs of all of our consumers.” Often times, trans and nonbinary communities are excluded in conversations about diversity, so being thoughtful and forward-thinking, as P&G has done, can be an important step to raising awareness.

The drive to make the world a kinder, more inclusive place, where people are aware of the beauty in their differences, care about the earth and want their cultural touchstones, whether it’s advertising or literature, to reflect the global experience, are inevitably driving brands to abandon archaic views of normal. The future will include more points of view, more thoughtfulness around marketing and more diverse services and products.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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