E45's inclusive new identity is inspired by the flexibility of skin cells

Iconic skincare brand E45 has revealed a modern and inclusive rebrand inspired by skin cells. Developed by Elmwood, the new identity elevates the brand while retaining everything that has made it recognisable.

Over the last 70 years, E45 has earned its place as the leading name in the skin care industry. But to help the brand move with the times, its parent company, Karo Healthcare, has worked with global design consultancy Elmwood to create a more modern and inclusive identity.

The new identity consists of a subtly refined brand mark, an updated colour palette, new iconography and pattern libraries, and pack visuals. E45 will roll it out across multiple brand touchpoints. Taking its design cues from skin cells themselves, the new look is also designed to be flexible enough to champion many unique skin tones and conditions.

For a brand with such a recognisable heritage as E45, though, it was important for Elmwood that key design elements were carried over. The logo, for example, which displays E45 in a cell shape, has been retained, albeit rebalanced with new shapes that can be rearranged across its broad portfolio.

"Early in the process, our studio research revealed that E45's distinctive, cell-shaped logo is something that consumers instantly recognise and connect with," explains Rob Dyer, associate creative director at Elmwood London.

"This finding sparked the cornerstone concept of our new design identity. Healthy skin cells are visual devices that can expand and flex differently. Cells can be used interactively with one another in motion or provide a window for conversational extracts or lifestyle photography.

"The resulting system has a soft, elastic quality. Like human skin itself, it can constantly rebuild itself. And this, in turn, brings a newfound element of richness and breadth to the stories E45 can tell."

By examining the building blocks of skin, Elmwood was able to get to the core of E45's purpose and breathe new life into a versatile design system – crucially, one that could be spread as smoothly as its creams throughout its entire marketing spectrum.

"The adaptability and flexibility of skin cells enable us to weave meaningful narratives for our experts and consumers alike," notes Steve Binding, global head of design and creative at E45 parent brand Karo Healthcare.

To make the brand language more relatable, Elmwood reviewed everything from the letterforms to the cell shape and the colour palette. By settling on cobalt, electric blues, and coral tones, E45 can nod to its past while also standing out on shop shelves and phone screens alike. Beyond that, the identity broadens its scope to appeal to everyone.

"E45 is a household name that caters for a diverse range of customers and their complex skincare demands," says Kyle Whybrow, executive creative director at Elmwood London. "That meant our design strategy for revitalising its brand had to strike a balance between capturing scientific expertise – summed up by pharmacists and people seeking help with specific skin conditions – and those who use E45 products more every day.

"It's about marrying that brand knowledge with a delivery that feels friendly, personable and inclusive."

The inclusive approach can clearly be seen in the new photography, whose guidelines are specifically tailored around representation. This includes a wide range of individual skin tones, backgrounds and stories. On top of this, everyday skincare issues are also placed front and centre, with the imagery designed to promote confidence and authenticity by normalising various conditions.

By distinguishing the brand more clearly, it's hoped that E45 will be able to adapt and cater to various skincare needs. Rather than appearing as a static, medicinal brand, it's now armed with a playfulness that can be used to tell various stories.

"It's been great to collaborate with Elmwood and put the foundations of this fresh and memorable design system into play," says Sally Perry, global category director of Skin Health at Karo Healthcare.

"We love the idea of using visual skin cells as a means of defining our identity and speaking to our audiences in different ways. From product staging to e-commerce and digital storytelling, it allows scope for inspiration at every stage of the customer experience."

"E45 has enjoyed a long and illustrious history in the skincare market, and our mission is to keep evolving that story," adds Steve. "This major design project marks an exciting new chapter for one of the high street's best-loved skincare brands, resulting in next-level engagement for generations to come. We've kept everything that is distinct and brilliant about E45 while enabling it to flex for the future."


Get the best of Creative Boom delivered to your inbox weekly