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Designing to Change Brand Perception for Mafu

by Natalia Sylvester

July 13, 2017 / Updated: January 23, 2023

When you’re an indie maker, DIY-ing it often comes with the territory. Over the years, we’ve worked with hundreds of brands that started with humble, resourceful, and scrappy beginnings, but there comes a time when they are ready to hire a team that will not only refine, but transform and change brand perception.

We were ecstatic to be that team for Bonnie Juma. She came to us just as she’d renamed her apothecary business and needed a beautiful visual identity to go with it. Mafu is a range of botanical skin and body care created to nourish mind, body, and spirit with plant-based ingredients. Established in 1996, the company’s website launched in 2008 with a DIY template. While the brick-and-mortar aspect of her business was going well, Bonnie wanted to seize the potential of her online shop, both aesthetically and sales-wise.

“I would love to have a beautiful site—one that I would enjoy visiting—and that would appeal to the senses.” She set a solid goal for online conversion rates and an increase in internet sales.

Website design to change brand perception for an apothecary shop

One of the characteristics that sets Bonnie’s approach apart is how inspired each product is. As Christine on our team worked on initial concepts for her web design, she thought of ways to make the customer feel equally inspired: to learn about Mafu’s ingredients and process, and to (of course) make a purchase.

Logo and brand identity for Mafu, maker of botanical health and skincare products. Learn how we helped Mafu change brand perception.
Logo and brand identity for Mafu by Aeolidia

“I kept thinking of your target customer, imagining her visiting your site because she wants to put something good and natural on her skin and in her body,” Christine said. “The softness and warmth of the site invites her in, while the cleanness of the site makes it a breeze to shop.”

The top navigation features hand-drawn icons to make the shopping experience a seamless part of the brand. An “Ingredient Spotlight” image leads to the blog while highlighting the educational aspect of the brand. Enticing customers to learn builds trust in the brand’s knowledge and expertise, while also inspiring them to shop.

Mafu oils logo and packaging by Aeolidia. Photo & styling Jen Lacey for Aeolidia.
Logo and brand identity for Mafu, maker of botanical health and skincare products. Learn how we helped Mafu change brand perception.
Logo and packaging design for Mafu by Aeolidia.

Surprise! When your small business is all grown up

We got some very flattering feedback on this initial design from Bonnie: “I think ‘magazine’ since the logo is so strong (which I love), and the picture is so crisp.” But, she added, it almost felt too polished and mainstream. In other words, the design looked too good, too polished and professional, to be Mafu.

We scratched our heads a bit and chatted internally before it dawned on us: if starting your own business is like raising a child, then getting a professional makeover is like seeing that child all dressed up for prom before you’re emotionally ready. It’s all grown up! Where did the time go? Is it really prepared for such a big step?

What Bonnie needed, then, was a boost of confidence. Maybe the design wasn’t what she’d imagined; it was beyond what she’d imagined.

“The saying that comes to mind is ‘dress for the job you WANT to have,'” Arianne told her. “This website design dresses your business up to be a leader in organic and botanical products. Even if you’re not there yet, this is the outfit you need to make it to that next level.”

She pointed out that the “polish,” like all the special details infused throughout every section of the site, are what set the design apart from more mainstream sites. Too many apothecary brands look homemade, but not in a good way. It makes it hard for customers to break out their wallets when they don’t get a trustworthy, polished experience up front.

Custom website design for Mafu, maker of botanical health and skincare products. Learn how we helped Mafu change brand perception.
Custom website design for Mafu by Aeolidia

Getting used to the idea of success

After taking some time to sleep on it and see how the design felt after the weekend, Bonnie came back with a fresh perspective. It turned out she needed some encouragement and time to re-imagine her brand’s potential. We were already seeing big, beautiful things in her future, and she simply needed a gentle vote of confidence to see herself there, too! Once she did, she fell in love with this new direction for her brand.

My experience working with the Aeolidia team surpassed all my expectations, partially because there was SO much I did not know, and mostly because of their commitment to excellence in their work. I would recommend this company to anyone desiring to take their business to that next level of polish, beauty, and excellence. Thank you Aeolidia team—you are awesome!

View more projects in our portfolio.

Visit Mafu’s website.

We would love to help you change your customers’ perception of your brand–and perhaps your own perception of it as well! Contact us to take your DIY branding to the next (and the next, and the next) level.

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