No kawaii — Erotique: sensual identity for Japanese cosmetics brand Redaf

Our maryco team tells how we created the corporate identity and packaging. Step by step.

8 min readNov 25, 2021

About the Redaf project

Our client has been living in Japan for 20 years. She has overseen the cosmetic market a lot and founded Redaf, a face and body skincare brand. The product is produced by a Japanese cosmetic laboratory, but it is targeted at the European markets. In 2022, the brand will appear in the online store and marketplaces.

As our client told us, now two technologies are especially widespread in Japanese skin care cosmetics — the placenta of animal origin, saturated with vitamins and amino acids, and biosoluble microneedles. The composition of Redaf contains bio-soluble microneedles.

Japan and Korea are “competing” for quantities per square centimeter to improve product efficiency. In Japan, a maximum of 1,300 microneedles are now used, in Korea — less.

When Ksenia contacted us in the spring of 2021, we had to develop the identity and packaging of several products. Redaf’s target audience is upper-middle-income women, so the main requirement was to emphasize high quality and reflect the Japanese origin of the brand through a discreet style and noble colors.

The Japanese love what is called kawaii: so that the packaging is cute, with flowers, figures, bright colors. This often manifests itself in the clothes of the elderly. However, there are also minimalistic designs.

In the Redaf packaging, I wanted to convey other associations with Japan is a country of reliable quality standards, innovation and nanotechnology.

Initially, I turned to Japanese designers, but we did not understand each other, our vision was different. Then I met the maryco team. We quickly came to an understanding.

Ksenia Fukuoka

founder of Redaf

Picked up references

This is an important stage at which we understand that we are correctly conveying the idea of the brand and are thinking in the same direction with the client. We are simultaneously looking for references for the logo and general identity in order to holistically think over the future concept.

When we were looking for references for the logo, we tried to capture important associations for Redaf: naturalness, beauty and Japanese aesthetics. Therefore, options with geometric and symmetrical shapes were selected.

In our references for identity, we started from two ideas. First: to make the product visually memorable through local fills with gradients and graphic elements. Second: keep the overall minimalism and add bright accents.

Developed a logo

We start with it, and not with the elements of the corporate identity, because the logo is one of the constants around which we build the identity. In addition, it takes time to find a unique solution and register a logo.

First option. It consists of three parts: text, sign and Japanese characters (name Redaf in Japanese). The sign contains a schematic minimalistic landscape — this is how we reflected the idea of Japanese gardens, which embody the naturalness, beauty and precision of all elements. However, the customer refused this option.

Second option. It is based on the stylization of a hydrangea flower. It symbolizes nature, growth, flowering. We left a lot of air between the sign and the textual version of the logo — this is a characteristic feature of Japanese logos.

The client liked the option, but needed to improve the font and layout of the elements. We showed three more font options and several color schemes.

The third option is lettering. Ksenia asked for a hand-drawn version. It was originally an experiment, she wanted to understand how such a spelling would fit. Our calligrapher came up with the style.

The final version of the logo. Here we have abandoned the pictorial symbolic part. The logo is built on a contrasting style with connecting elements. The iconic version, which will be used for small formats (avatars, favicons and icons), also refers to the gardens of Japan — we schematically depicted a bridge and a tree. The sign itself even resembles a hieroglyph.

Found a sensual corporate identity

Font. High contrast Еrotique Аlt was chosen for accents and headings on the packaging. It is rounded, feminine and elegant, it looks impressive in Cyrillic and Latin. For the typesetting we chose the Inter font.

All the texts on the packaging are also translated into Japanese, for which we found M plus1p. It was an interesting task to find such a hieroglyphic font so that the hieroglyphs and letters were of the same saturation.

Palette. The main one is built on a combination of warm pink and burgundy and gray shades. Additional — on similar colors. These colors refer to the overall visual concept of the brand. We initially assumed that we might have new colors in the packages, which we will introduce into the original palette as accents.

A combination of style-forming elements. To emphasize the discreet style of the brand, we have chosen the abundance of air as the main principle of the identity. All layouts are built on a special grid, so there is enough empty space between different elements and you can focus on the product name and logo. Signature colors (single or gradient) serve as backdrops for this and other techniques.

Came up with the design of the packaging

We work on it after we approve the style-forming elements. They set the tone, although we can come up with additional tricks to differentiate the different product lines.

Multiple design concepts

Building on the references, we have proposed several solutions. Each featured a discreet style and used a lot of air between the elements. At this stage, we were looking for their best location and combination. Precise color choices for the final concept.

In one version, gradients were introduced and an emphasis on typography: in the attention of the product name, written in the corporate font Erotique Alt and made using the embossing technique — convex.

In another version, the focus was shifted to the text version of the logo, and the product name was shifted lower. The texture of the cardboard plays an important role here — the naturalness of cosmetics is transmitted through the naturalness of the packaging material.

Another concept is similar to the previous one, but here we have used the already iconic version of the logo as an accent graphic element. As planned, in the packaging of different products, it could be slightly distorted and used to simulate different textures, drawn by hand.

Final option

We took the concept, where the name of the product is written in large letters in Erotique Alt, and applied it to the packaging of patches, gel-mask and body cream. Visually, the solutions turned out to be different, because we used several colors and additional techniques.

There are many requirements for the information on the packaging, you cannot come to the printing house and print any text. Therefore, one of the most painstaking parts of the job was to place the instructions, composition and precautions on the outside. The very design of the boxes was set, we worked on the models.

Gel mask. We used a burgundy color from the main palette, a monochrome gradient and introduced ovals. As a post-printing technique, we made selective varnishing.

Patches and cream with microneedles. We have introduced a new — dark blue color, it goes well with the main range. Another method of post-printing processing of the title was also chosen — it is silver embossing.

Under Japanese law, if a product consists of multiple parts, there must be a graphic composition. This is a small diagram that includes all the components inside the package. And the shape of the patches in the instructions must necessarily match the shape of this patch. They cannot be made more schematic.

Liners. They can provide comprehensive information about the product in several languages: method of application, precautions, composition. This is similar to the instruction in medications.

Designed 3D models

The brand will first go on sale on marketplaces and Instagram. It is more convenient to show Redaf products as 3D models on online platforms and in advertising banners. In our opinion, such images are often more attractive than standard subject photos, because the technology allows you to create more complex compositions with interesting lighting, add unusual decorations and additional objects.

The most interesting thing in the Redaf project was to find a middle ground between the Japanese character of the brand and the style familiar to European buyers. Looking back at the result, we call the Redaf identity sensual, but not in the literal sense. Deep, velvety blues and reds, rounded Erotique Alt and selected post-processing techniques such as silver embossing and selective varnishing create this look.

The project was made by:

• Veronika Octyabr — art direction;

• Andrey Telminov — development of a logo and design concept;

• Katerina Primak — illustration design, layout of corporate identity carriers;

• Daniil Onufrienko — development and rendering of 3D models.




Design team. We create visual communication for brands in the digital environment and offline. Visit us