Dove before and after Masterbrand

Brand Resonance Pyramid [7]

“since its launch, in 1957, Dove has been promoted as a beauty bar, not a soap. Enhancing beauty has always been central to its value proposition. Therefore, it makes sense that Dove focuses on social needs tied to perceptions of beauty”[1].

Pre Master brand

At the base of the pyramid, Dove began as a soap brand. It saw itself as a beauty bar with ‘quarter cleansing cream’ in it.

Studies showing that the Dove soap didn’t dry the skin like other soaps set it apart from the others. Its performance was clearly obvious. This is the second level of the pyramid “David Ogilvy’s proposition for Dove soap has become legend. It was an idea conveyed by the simple image of velvety cream being poured gently into a bar of soap”. This image was used in all types of advertising, from TV to print and billboards, and became an indelible branding signal. In fact, this signal like other memorable signals, became the foundation for Dove’s unsurpassed success as a brand [5].

Dove Soap is not shaped like other bars, but that the viewer’s hands were taken into   consideration when it was designed. “You see that the shape of this new bath and toilet bar is different … curved so it doesn’t slip from your grasp .. Dove is modern! Curved to fit your hand.” [6] The advertising aspired to project honest and authenticity, preferring to have natural looking women testifying to Dove’s benefits rather than stylized fashion models [8]. The feelings portrayed by the real people gave the authenticity and honesty identity to the brand too. This is the third level of the Pyramid.

With the successful Dove beauty bar, the customers had a better self esteem. The brand wanted more women to feel beautiful. This resonated with how the customers felt abou themselves with Dove or is it Love ad in India. This is the top level of the Pyramid.

Dove was tapped to become a Masterbrand in February 2000 [8]. Dove unveiled its “The Campaign for Real Beauty”.

“Dove’s much-lauded “Campaign for Real Beauty” offers a vivid example of how companies can use conflict to their advantage. The campaign brought “real women” together worldwide to stand up against industry-imposed beauty ideals. Older women, large women, skinny women, and less-than-pretty women united in camaraderie against a common foe. Dove identified a latent “out” group and claimed it for its brand” [2].

Dove has upended the norms of beauty and started to be seen as a beauty brand. This is the base of the Pyramid.

No longer could Dove communicate mere functional superiority, because functionality meant different things in different categories [8]. With this maneuvering, Dove came to be not just a soap but many other things. When Dove launched in India in the 1990s, one of its ads said, ‘Dove is not a soap’. Could we add, it’s also a shampoo, a conditioner, a deo and something else [3]. This is the second level of the pyramid.

In India where Dove costed twice other brand soaps, customers got a good value by using it only for face as it didn’t last as long as the others, because of the moisturiser in it [3]. The ads in India tapped upper middle-class women. Being able to afford the soap even if for face only, gave a sense of upper mobility to the women using the soap. Not all product extensions were successful. The rules were different based on the country, if it was developed or not. The Dove body wash better suited for houses with running water, didn’t take off well [4].

Dove has started to come off as a nurturing brand which was able to move into Dove Men+Care and Baby Dove in April 2017. This new alignment with personal care of the whole family is a powerful one. With the Sketches and online user generated content of women taking hair baths in malls and putting up pictures of their beautiful hair after has made the brand seem miraculous. This is the third level of the pyramid.

Dove’s market increase from 2.3m to 4m brand shows that customers love their products. This is the top level of the Pyramid. Everyone continues to feel beautiful using Dove and all the new products.

Before the master brand, customers identified the Dove brand and associated it with a beauty bar and smooth skin. After the master brand, it represented a host of other personal care items for a wider audience, men, women and kids.

Dove met the customer’s functional needs of cleanliness and aesthetic superiority through visible performance, while also meeting the customers social and psychological needs of being seen as a class that could afford beauty and make purchases beyond utility.


Deepening the engagement with Dove’s product, customers were not only willing to try the products but also appear infront of camera with their testimonials and happy ending stories. They went in droves and interacted on the website as well as upload their pictures of how they use the products.


Only when the customer has been successfully steered from identity to meaning to response to relationship, Keller believes, can brand response be converted into the intense and active loyalty that creates significant brand value [7].  Dove has successfully made this journey with the customers and has made itself a stalwart of consumer history.


Considering Johnson & Johnson lawsuits regarding talc and cancer, Unilever has maintained that it would not use carcinogenic ingredients in its products. Brand ethics are important in the long run.



  5. Adamson Allen, BrandSimple: How the Best brands keep it simple and succeed.
  6. Kugel Frederik, Kugel 1957, Telivision Magazine – Volume 14, Issues 7-12 page 117
  7. Brands and Brand Equity, HBR article.
  8. Dove: Evolution of a Brand, Case study.

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