Branding in the Age of "Top Shelves" - #TRT

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Photo Credit:

Our reality in 2016 is so, very different from where we were even five years ago. Don't worry, I'm not going to mention the imminent election (But yo, go vote!) I'm simply talking about branding (it is a PR firm's blog, after all.) Everything from handbags to humans are uber-branded these days and personal branding has commanded the marketing world to create a new normal.

The concept of personal branding unsurprisingly follows the rise of social media. People have aesthetics and voices on social media, just like a brand. They have a unique sense of style and a keen sense of self. We've branded ourselves. It's only natural, if you think about it. We're trying to find, identify and express ourselves. But social media has made it easier, quicker and more #branded than ever.

What's more, real brands must now compete with personal brands. Companies must be sure their brands fit into personal brands, like a tiny, aesthetically-driven, on-point nesting doll. And the branding of actual brands has to be even better than the impeccable personal brands. (Brand-ception.)

All of this led to the zeitgeist outburst that was Into the Gloss (and later, Glossier). Also, I am self-aware about the fact that this is probably the fourth time I've mentioned them on this blog. It's with good reason, considering the fact that they may or may not have turned all of our little, millennial lives into branded and merchandised environments. Into the Gloss launched on a mission of bringing the coolest and most inspirational women's beauty routines to the masses - or, at least our iPhone screens.  The blog highlighted the "top shelves" of cool-girls around the globe, AKA their most prized beauty possessions. This caused all of us to stop and think about our own top shelves, because remember? We're all brands, too.

Image credit:    *Disclaimer: This is not my tiny, Austin apartment.*

Image credit:

*Disclaimer: This is not my tiny, Austin apartment.*

In my tiny, Austin apartment, I've somehow managed to merchandise a beauty cabinet. I also have open shelving in my kitchen, as do many other kitchens around the world. This has resulted in me and many others attempting to merchandise our dishes, wine glasses, teacups -- you name it, it's on Instagram.

All of this self-branding and at-home merchandising requires brands to remind us who's boss and brand the hell out of themselves. The packaging on every modern brand should be worthy of a top shelf. A very timely example is LOVE Wellness, the feminine wellness brand created by Lo Bosworth (I know, she was my fave on Laguna Beach, too).

Image source:

Image source:

But seriously, she's created a killer brand that fits right into this trend report (very convenient for me, TYSM Lo). Thanks to her, gone are the years of hiding your feminine wellness labels like a scarlet "A." Her feminine wellness products solve a myriad of normal lady probs, all while remaining top-shelf-friendly. She created a yeast infection supplement so chic, that I would totally Instagram the bottle. Why? Because it's part of life, as is every single product a consumer buys. So, why not play into that?

Welcome to 2016: The year of the Instagrammable vagina cleanser. Time to follow suit, other brands.

Emily Kealey