Dr. Bronner's Soaps
Taste of Quality #18
Today I’m grateful for…
Dr. Bronner’s Soaps
Okay, I admit it. I'm a big Dr. Bronner's fan. Does this make me more of a hippie than I'd like to admit? Possibly. But does it also make me a happy customer? You bet. The products are quality, the brand is weird and authentic and the overall business practices of the company seem top-notch. It's hard not to root for a combo like that!
For those unfamiliar, Dr. Bronner's is a brand of castile soap that was founded by Emanuel Bronner in the late 1940s. Bronner was a third-generation soap maker who emigrated from Germany to the US where he began making his soaps and marketing them with a philosophical message on the bottle that he called the "Moral ABC". This message was a mix of his personal beliefs and thoughts on unity, expressed in a unique and cryptic style.
Over the years, Dr. Bronner's soaps gained popularity and became a staple in natural food stores and co-ops. In addition to its unique products and packaging, Dr. Bronner's is known for its ethical business practices, such as using organic and fair trade ingredients, reducing waste, and advocating for social and environmental causes. The company is still run by the Bronner family, who continue to use the original formulations and promote the same philosophical message.
All of these unique elements have helped to establish the company as a leader in the natural products industry and a trusted source of natural and ethical personal care products for a loyal customer base.
So people love Dr. Bronner's but why is it a good design? Let's count the ways...
Rams Principle 6: It's honest
You hear the word "authenticity" thrown around a lot these days, but it often doesn't hold up upon further inspection. From what I can tell, Dr. Bronner's seems to have lived its values about as well as any company I've followed.
It would have been easy to shy away from the busy design of the cryptic message on their packaging, but instead, they allowed it to grow into a differentiator in a crowded marketplace. It's honest to the intent of the original inventor, just evolved and refined over time!
Rams Principle 7: It's long-lasting
From the packaging to the formula itself, the core elements continue to drive the product line close to 80 years after the company's founding. That's long-lasting.
Rams Principle 9: It's environmentally friendly
Dr. Bronner's emphasizes their commitment to being eco-friendly both in terms of their packaging (where they use recycled materials) and in its business practices (where they incorporate a number of fair-trade principles). That deserves some gratitude in my book!
I admit it's been tough for me to find designs that I know prioritize this principle. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!
While he writes about a range of topics across product design, design systems, and career management I have to give him extra props for his component deep dives which I 100% don't have the patience to write myself (so I'm glad he's doing it!).
He's been very supportive of me and my work on Better by Design which just goes to show how awesome it can be when designers lift each other up on the internet rather than tear each other down. One of my main goals for Better by Design is to create an approachable and supportive space for anyone who's interested in design to level up their skills, so I'm super grateful to see that start to manifest through folks like Steve.
Give him a follow!
Moment of Zen 🧘
How noiseless props are made for movies and TV shows
Today I want to give a shout-out to the little-celebrated discipline of prop design for theater and film. It's one of those things that you never stop to think about when it's done well; the props just blend in seamlessly. But don't let that fool you into thinking that it's easy.
In this video, you get a fascinating peek into some of the techniques that a Prop Master uses to make sure that a prop not only looks great on film but also sounds great in the audio.
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