The case of a geo-specific beauty brand name: necessary or not?

The skincare brand Olay originated in South Africa in the early 1950s.  Invented by an ex-Unilever employee, the original product went by the name of Oil of Olay, chosen as a spin on its key ingredient “lanolin”.  The thick pink liquid was marketed as an anti-aging ‘beauty fluid’ and in the 1970s the range expanded to include other types of skincare products.

In the 1980s, Oil of Olay was acquired by Proctor & Gamble and in 2000 the group decided to take it global.  So the name was modified in each country to sound “pleasing to consumers”: Oil of Ulay (UK and Ireland), Oil of Ulan (Australia) and Oil of Olaz (France, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany).

olay-around-the-world

P&G eventually streamlined the brand under a global name, removed the possibly misunderstood word “oil” and eliminated many of the name variations. According to P&G, “the original name no longer fit with what women have come to expect from Olay — a light, greaseless formula.

Today, there’s just “Olaz” (in German-speaking countries) and “Olay” (everywhere else).

Drop us a note, if you’d like to share other similar stories of geo-specific brand names in the field of beauty! We’d love to hear from you!

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