Clinique: Maintaining Brand Momentum at Age 50

Clinique’s brand momentum is still moving upward. The 50-year old Estee Lauder company brand was chosen by Beauty Packaging’s online audience as “2017 Beauty Company of the Year: Excellence in Packaging.” You can read the story here.

You might be surprised that Clinique is still leading the pack given the nature of the skincare category. But 50 is the new 40, right (or is it 30 or 35)? The category is extremely crowded. Independent beauty brands continue their meteoric rise. Naturals continue to make waves. And there’s growing interest in pharma and dermatologist-endorsed niche brands.

So what still attracts people to Clinique? What keeps the brand moving upward and less vulnerable to competitors? Reflective of our own research into what keeps brands moving upward, here are the habits that keep Clinique on a strong growth trajectory.

Its North Star

Clinique isn’t just selling skincare. The business of their brand is about evoking pride and confidence through a simple regimen that continues to resonate today: Cleanse, Exfoliate, Moisturize.

Jenny Belknap, SVP Global Consumer and Product Marketing, Clinique, says:

“I come to work every morning because I believe the products we’re delivering to women are making an impact on their lives, making them happy and I believe, improving their lives. When you’ve designed a product she trusts and a package she loves, because it’s the first thing she’s touching in the morning—maybe now after her phone—the last thing that touches her before she goes to bed; to be a part of her life, that’s really special.”

Not all brands have the budgets to make a dent in culture, but every brand can assert what it stands for and give people something to believe in. When they do, people pay attention. Clinique’s North Star is its ultimate growth driver.

Simple and Consistent

Clinique’s logo, fonts, colors and packaging structure have remained consistently simple and easily recognizable over the years — mixing bright silver with pastel shades of yellow, pink, blue, green and lavender. The brand maintains its strong recognition through these cues.

According to Ted Owen, Vice President, Global Package Design, Clinique:

“When working on packaging and package design there are a number of aesthetic and brand codes that we make sure to approach with reverence and respect for our history, but it’s incredibly important to keep those elements in place as we evolve. Focused packaging helps ensure beauty customers of a simple selection process at counter or online, which supports the consumer’s fast-paced lifestyle.”


Clinique stands out by being unwavering. It delivers just what its audience wants year after year. While Clinique’s goals, products and packaging continue to evolve with time and consumer trends, the brand stays true to its heritage. Some products are so aligned with the brand, there’s no reason to change the packaging at all. It’s all about “evolution versus revolution,” according to Owen.

Emotional Pull

Triggering feelings sparks instinctive attraction. And Clinique has successfully done this for the past 50 years. Because the Clinique story is a reflection of its core customer – her goals, dreams and fast-paced lifestyle – it’s storytelling is likely to remain relevant and continue to flourish into the future. In the case of Clinique, the story unfolds through its packaging, a strong focal point for the brand and a universal icon in cosmetics. This is supported by counter representatives dressed in pristine white lab coats and are educated to prescribe just the right skincare system for individuals’ needs. The total brand experience offers appeal by projecting confidence. And confidence attracts.


Clinique has been increasingly present on social media platforms, with key social media influencers promoting specific products. These efforts have apparently paid off. The eighth annual L2 Digital IQ Index: Beauty U.S. ranks the digital performance of 108 brands. Benchmarked categories include color cosmetics, skincare, and fragrance. Clinique ranked No. 6 on the list.



Momentum requires constantly moving and evolving to keep consumers interested and engaged, surprised and delighted. In 2017, to ride the wave of the athleisure trend, Clinique introduced CliniqueFIT.
The line is described as a “carefully curated line of athletic-inspired, high-performance skincare and makeup that’s long-wearing and designed to fit seamlessly into an on-the-go lifestyle.” While the iconography is completely different for Clinique, the simplicity of packaging (simple descriptive names on consistent white backgrounds) remains.

Our congratulations to Clinique. It’s a big feat staying on top. And it proves the value of some tried and true practices being woven together to give brands the momentum to thrive.

Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, launched in 1999, the specialist health & wellness branding and marketing agency using every moment to move customers, brands and businesses upward. Prior to Trajectory, Eric served as EVP and Management Board member at Interbrand (the world’s most influential brand consultancy). Before Interbrand, he held senior marketing positions at Beiersdorf Inc. and L’Oreal and advertising account management positions at Marschalk and Benton & Bowles.He has also taught as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall’s Graduate School of Communications and has lectured at Wharton Business School and Emory Goizueta School of Business.