Breaking the silence and shame of a taboo globally through the power of brand

Libresse branded notebooks


Office: London

Period. Blood. Menstruation. Vulva. Feeling at all uncomfortable? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, the truth is that menstruation – one of life’s most essential processes – is still taboo, still a stigma, still a source of vulnerability and even persecution.

Consider a few facts:
9/10 women hide their periods.
56% of teens would rather be bullied at school than talk to their parents about their period.
55% of women think their society believes that the female body leaks and should be controlled as much as possible to avoid embarrassment and smells.

With these damaging and outdated attitudes, something needed to change. We therefore embarked on a journey to help reinvent iconic brand Essity to empower women to break the silence and shame around periods.

Essity needed a truly global identity which would speak to women of all ages and demographics. The new identity would need to be welcomed by 100+ often very different markets. And it would need to span more than 1,500 SKUs.

I was handed our brand positioning, and I read it and I thought: ‘I cannot activate the brands globally on this positioning because it’s fundamentally wrong.’ I absolutely disagreed with it because it was all about encouraging women to ‘be their best self every day.’ I thought, well, I don’t think a towel or a tampon will encourage me to be the best every day; I just didn’t believe in it.

Tanja Grubner,
Global Marketing and Communications Director for Feminine Care, Essity

Libresse branding. Inspired by the v-zones.
Libresse advertisement on Instagram stories

We got input from women. A lot of women. More than 5,000 around the world to be accurate. We aligned on a simple but powerful purpose: to create a world where women can live the life they want, by breaking v-zone taboos.

At its core, this purpose is about embracing our femininity. It’s about saying that the V-Zone – the vulva, vagina and V-shaped intimate area – should be a source not of shame but of pride. More than just a letter, the V symbolises women’s most intimate body part, a symbol of female empowerment. So we put the V at the heart of the brand story and embedded it into the brand mark.

In so doing, we were building on an existing visual brand asset, the blue rhombus. To this we added bold structure. We simplified. We eliminated silly frills, waves and swooshes. And then we put the V-symbol front and centre everywhere. No compromise, no fear, no taboo.

The number one lesson is always check with consumers – the outside world is often braver than you are.

Tanja Grubner,
Global Marketing and Communications Director for Feminine Care, Essity

Libresse branding across physical touchpoints
Libresse branding across physical and digital touchpoints

Our new purpose and identity have united audiences globally; cross-agency teams, retailers and stakeholders from around the world. And women everywhere love it. Six months after launch in China, Libresse’s brand awareness was up by 47%, reaching 270 million. In the Malaysian market leader Libresse reached an all-time high market share of 35.8%, growing faster than the market and driving category growth.

The work of ending V-Zone taboos is not done. But while Libresse continues to out-perform the market around the world, we know that every day we get a little closer.

Libresse product advertisements

Think big – because only if you think big, can you achieve big. If we had started by doing a little evolution of the brand I don’t think we will have achieved those results.