Invention born of necessity.
In 1972, a Beverly Hills hairstylist named Geri Cusenza was styling Barbra Streisand’s hair for an album cover photo. After hours of repeatedly braiding and unbraiding Barbra’s hair, Cusenza knew there had to be an easier way to get the cutting-edge crimped effect she was after. Together with her husband John Sebastian, Cusenza prototyped a tool that would revolutionize hairstyling for the next decade: the Crimping Iron.
Sebastian Professional, the hair product company that the couple went on to found, embodied that spirit of trendsetting innovation. For over two decades, Sebastian remained the authority on style, and products like the Shaper Hairspray and Potion 9 became salon must-haves.
Beauty Junkie and Aspiring Artist
Fierce Urban Couture: Confidence, Edge & Imperviousness.
“Oh yeah, Sebastian. Whatever happened to them?”
By 2006, Sebastian had fallen out of favor with consumers. Hair professionals forgot its rich heritage as a style pioneer, and onetime brand evangelists stopped selling it in their salons. Expanding from the salon to the mass market, Sebastian found consumers failing to connect with its newly expanded array of product styles and colors. More fundamentally, its core promise of fearless innovation and inspiration had become diluted.
After the success of the Herbal Essence bottle redesign, Sebastian’s parent company Procter & Gamble approached Ziba to help revive the brand by designing the 3D bottle structure, color, material and finishes (CMF) and the package experience.
Reinventing a master.
To understand Sebastian’s consumer, Ziba began working with groups of professional stylists, hair connoisseurs and product fanatics – subject experts we referred to as Beauty Junkies and Aspiring Artists. These were women who craved the rarest, most coveted products and sought unique and unparalleled beauty. They were fearless in their pursuit of fabulous, stopping only to smile and tell their admirers: My brand is my secret weapon.
These women wanted Sebastian to once again become a trusted beauty source. To ensure that our vision aligned with theirs, we worked with the same group throughout the project. This consistent feedback enabled real stylists to help Sebastian’s new offerings evolve, and allowed us to design according to consumer insights.
A smarter shape and a dash of flash.
The current look of the beauty shelf was over the top, with a riot of foiled, metallic and brightly-packaged products. Ziba’s solution was a disruption: refined, sophisticated designs that told a story of authority and subtle glamour.
Mindful of cost and production parameters, we worked with off-the-shelf bottles and caps for most of the line, creating a signature shape and custom outer cap for the shampoo and conditioner, Sebastian’s biggest-selling products. The new shape allows the bottles to stand on their cap, so the viscous contents could more easily dispense. To ensure that Sebastian would return as a shelf icon, we chose CMF options that focused on authoritative contrast: pure blacks and whites, with hints of bright color peeking through the cap to signify that flash of inspiration and playfulness that exemplifies the Sebastian brand.
Ziba’s work, alongside a successful collaboration with the P&G graphic and advertising teams, immediately reshaped Sebastian’s brand story.
Success: Fearless, fashionable reinvention lives on.
Since Sebastian’s 2008 unveiling, the brand has successfully reclaimed its spot on salon shelves and continues to develop innovative new products. In recent years, the brand has teamed up with runway shows, famous stylists and fashion models to co-promote style events and new collections.
In 2009, Sebastian released the Flaunt collection, which has been wildly popular with stylists and consumers alike. “The innovation featured in the Flaunt Collection represents our commitment to continuing to build on Sebastian’s heritage as an innovative professional hair care brand,” said Reuben Carranza, Managing Director, P&G Professional Care Exclusive Line. “Stylists and consumers demand multi-tasking products that enhance their lifestyles and personal style and don’t require them to choose between benefits.”