Everyday, our designers bring to life the brands (and dreams) of founders from all over the world. Anyone who’s started a business knows the rush of seeing their logo and branding—something that once was just an idea—in real life for the very first time. It’s a really special moment that we’re lucky enough to see on a daily basis.

Welcome to #99designed, where we’re sharing some of these amazing stories on our blog and Instagram.

Introducing Noble Otter

The modern male knows how to take care of himself and look good. Brands are taking note. Just take a look at the plethora of options for shaving creams, pomades and beard products in any given drugstore.

In an industry that’s rapidly becoming more and more saturated, men’s grooming label Noble Otter has found their own secret to standing out: high-quality products with a good dose of humor and a dash of not taking themselves too seriously.

Read on to discover how Noble Otter is carving out their own space in the men’s grooming business with anti-elitist, beautifully designed products.

Noble Otter Two Kings stickers
Noble Otter Two Kings stickers designed by Mad pepper

A razor-sharp brand identity

Cody Wick, founder of Noble Otter, knows that any guy can go to their local store and choose from hundreds of wet shaving options.

Wick chose to make his brand stand out by turning the chore of shaving into a one-of-a-kind, enjoyable experience. As he puts it, “When you purchase one of our products, you get this beautiful package that goes along with the fragrance of that product. Something that really gets to set your imagination in this little fun world and allows you to turn a chore into something that is quite pleasant and fun.”

By being bold and daring with their products and branding, Noble Otter has quickly set themselves apart as a disruptor in the grooming industry.

Be daring with your products. No one wants to pay a premium for something they can get for cheap at the big box store. Be brave and do something to set yourself apart from your competition.

Noble Otter isn’t afraid to take chances with their product branding, straddling the fence between high-quality and high-fun. While most grooming brands try hard to evoke an old world sense of sophistication (check out the Aristotle quotes on Old Spice bottles), Noble Otter’s eponymous otter offers a fun break from this stuffy atmosphere, and customers love it.

They’ve wisely embraced their mascot’s popularity, even dedicating a section on their website to apparel and merchandise featuring their most popular otter artwork.

Flying Hide Noble Otter product

One sweet differentiator

Fragrances have not often overlapped with the shaving process for men. However, Noble Otter chose to transform this experience by developing and prioritizing custom scents for each of their products.

We wanted to tell a story with our products that our customers can experience through the art on our packaging and the fragrance we create to go along with it.
- Cody Wick, founder

The Noble Otter team creates and perfumes every product in-house, using formulas that they’ve spent years creating. This unique production method is yet another way that Noble Otter attracts attention among the dozens of generic brands using basic formulas that all smell the same.

Noble Otter Monarch packaging
Noble Otter Monarch packaging by Mad pepper
Noble Otter Orbit packaging
Noble Otter Orbit packaging by Mad pepper
Nobel Otter Thé Noir Et Vanille Eau de Parfum
Nobel Otter Thé Noir Et Vanille Eau de Parfum. Packaging designed by Mad pepper.

The decision to perfume everything in-house also allows Noble Otter to create distinct fragrant experiences that go hand-in-hand with their quirky brand personality. For example, each custom scent has its own sub-brand identity to match. Their Monarch scent is “a powdery lavender with top notes of cognac, face powder and coffee,” and its packaging features the brand’s signature otter with a Louis XIV-style wig. Their Orbit Shaving Soap, which promises a cool, fresh feeling, portrays the mascot in an astronaut’s helmet.

Noble Otter’s emphasis on custom developing unique fragrances for each product was so successful that they decided to branch out into selling fragrances as well. Noble Otter’s eau de parfum collection takes some of their most popular fragrances and bottles them up in high-quality, Italian glass perfume bottles, giving them an edge over their single-product competitors.

Grooming a growing brand

The otter that fans know and love hasn’t always looked the way it does now. But a couple of years ago, the folks at Noble Otter decided it was time to change their image and invest in professional graphic design. Knowing an agency would be too expensive but fearing the uncertainty that comes with hiring someone they didn’t know, Noble Otter came to 99designs by way of recommendation from a friend.

They started by running two design contests simultaneously for some new product labels. Designer Mad pepper came across the first contest and messaged Cody asking him to check out her work. With her expertise in fun mascots and quirky design elements, Mad pepper was the perfect fit for the burgeoning Noble Otter brand. She entered both contests, and as Cody puts it, “After the second submission, her vision became so clear to us and we chose her for both and decided to work with her exclusively. She is our sole designer and I hope that never changes. She is amazing.”

Mad Pepper has been one of the best things to happen to Noble Otter.

A Serbian designer, Mad pepper’s artistic vision lines up perfectly with what the folks at Noble Otter were trying to achieve. As she puts it, “I focus on the emotional, often through characters and animals. I believe that high-quality design has a key influence on individuals and corporations.”

Noble Otter Plunder label
Noble Otter Plunder label by Mad pepper
Noble Otter Nectar Amissa label
Noble Otter Nectar Amissa label by Mad pepper
Noble Otter Empire label
Noble Otter Empire label by Mad pepper

For each Noble Otter product, Mad pepper experiments with new patterns and colors matched to the attitude of their eponymous otter, while sticking to Noble Otter’s established font kit for cohesiveness. She often brings in her signature use of black and white linework to give the otters a hand-drawn and vintage feel. She’s covered everything from Astronaut Otters to Jungle Warriors. With 14 projects with Noble Otter under her belt, there are certainly many more otters to come.

What’s next for Noble Otter?

Keeping every aspect of their business in-house creates unavoidable obstacles with scale as Noble Otter tries to keep up with growing demand without skimping on quality. Even so, they’ve been able to expand into stores in the United States, Canada, and Australia, with plans to expand further soon.

The men’s grooming industry will continue to grow, a fact that Wick doesn’t try to avoid. As he puts it, “Our job is to just be better than them at it, and that’s what we intend to do.”

With their carefully crafted product development process and their finger on the pulse of the industry, we have no doubt Noble Otter is bound for long-term success.