Dove brand strategy / positioning case study

Dove Brand Strategy Analysis

FMCG Personal care & beautyhair care, body care, deodorants

Owner of the brand:

Key competitors:
L’Oréal, Garnier, Nivea, Olay, Avon

Brand essence

Empowering women to feel beautiful and self-confident.

Brand values

Beauty, empowerment, diversity, care.

Brand character

Feminine, warm, caring, positive, innocent, inclusive.

Dominating archetype

Dove’s brand positioning is one of the most famous strategies in the world and is widely acclaimed by brand and marketing professionals. Since the repositioning in 2004, the brand has been empowering women to feel confident in their own skin, regardless of their shape, colour or age. Dove’s approach, even today, after more than 16 years, is still unique in the beauty category, which is often criticised for enforcing unachievable beauty standards and promoting flawless (airbrushed) looks. In communication Dove features only real women in accordance with the brand mission to make beauty “a source of confidence, and not anxiety.[1]


Dove’s “real beauty” message is articulated not only through the extensively talked about brand campaigns (e.g., “Evolution”[2] or “Sketches”[3]) but also via empowerment programmes. For example, Dove Self-Esteem Project[4] helping girls boost their confidence or via women- and girls- focused partnerships (e.g Women in the World summit and Generation Girl event[5]).


On top of the aforementioned emotional communication focused on changing perceptions of  beauty standards, Dove also employs strong product messaging. Its main elements include moisturising (e.g., soap bars or deodorants with ¼ moisturising cream) and nourishing (e.g., Dove Nutritive Solutions shampoos).


Recent brand communication seems to portray a slightly different type of women than in previous campaigns – stronger and more confident rather than fragile and vulnerable; women, who don’t need permission to feel beautiful and stay true to themselves – female firefighters[6], a girl proposing to her boyfriend[7] or women who will not be told how to wear their hair – be it grey or blue.[8]


The Dove brand is rooted in the Innocent archetype. It’s about achieving happiness by being who you are, creating an idyllic world where every person can feel confident and beautiful, finding beauty and positive things in yourself, being real and honest. This approach is executed both in the messaging and at a visual level (only real women featured, Dove’s innocent logo, dominance of the white colour).


While Dove’s product lines for women and men offer similar rational benefits – moisturising and nourishing, they differ significantly on the emotional level. Dove for women is about “real beauty”, the male sub-brand Dove Men+Care is about “real strength”. Dove Men+Care communication features real men, who, according to the brand, are strong because they are caring (e.g., “For coach”[9] or “#RealStrength campaign”[10]).


Dominating colour: white.

Most important campaigns

1. “Project #ShowUs | Shattering Beauty Stereotypes” (2019)

2. “I’m Fine” (2018)

3. “#DearFutureDads” (2018)

4.  “Beauty On Your Own Terms #MyBeautyMySay” (2016)

5. “Love Your Hair” (2016)

6. “Real Beauty Sketches” (2013)

7. “Evolution” (2006)






Official brand statement:

We believe beauty should be a source of confidence, and not anxiety. That’s why we are here to help women everywhere develop a positive relationship with the way they look, helping them raise their self-esteem and realise their full potential.[11]

Interesting facts:

Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty was named the best campaign of the 21st century by Ad Age.[12]


1. Dove’s effectiveness case study
M. Ritson, “Watch: Ritson On How Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign Found The Perfect Balance Between Long And Short”, Marketing Week, Jun 2019,

2. Marketing Week on Dove’s approach to diversity
M. Fleming, “Dove: We Will Make Mistakes But We Aren’t Going To Lose The Diversity Game”, Marketing Week, Aug 2018,

3. How Dove discouraged media from focusing on female athletes’ looks
R. Harris, “Dove Challenges How The Media Portrays Female Athletes”, Marketing, Aug 2016,

4. Campaign on the evolution of Dove’s brand strategy
B. Bold, “When Dove Got ‘Real’: A Potted History Of A Brand Turnaround”, Campaign, Jun 2015,


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