Hawaii has 14 different microclimates—one of the highest concentrations in the world— making it a unique position from which to think about skincare. Growing up there, Koa’s three cofounders knew firsthand the importance of caring for one’s skin under extreme weather conditions, and understood this as an asset when formulating for their skincare line. Developing products to withstand the toughest environmental factors, from sun and ocean to wind and humidity, meant the outcome could be used successfully anywhere else. As one of Koa’s cofounders was also a founding partner at Combo, Combo was involved with Koa from its inception all the way to in-market phases, playing a role more akin to brand co-creator than consultant.
When formulating for optimal performance, Koa turned to the rich natural database of native and localized plants ©. Unique ingredients like the kukui nut, giant seaweed, sugarcane and the noni fruit were chosen for their ancient healing properties and were incorporated across the product line. With the Hawaiian climate as the yardstick, the answer to its extreme conditions rightly lay in Hawaiian expertise and ingredients—something intuitively understood by those who have personal ties to the land, like the company’s founders. This perspective would remain central as Koa moved into the brand and visual identity work, with ongoing support from Combo’s strategy and design teams.
To craft a brand identity that expressed Koa’s core ideals, the team leveraged the Hawaii-specific origin story and skincare formulas into a narrative that extended the pointedly local to anyone who wanted to receive those benefits. The design team created a visual world that blended youthfulness with a central connection to nature, a sentiment that was inherent to the Hawaiian lifestyle but could also be relatable, or aspirational, to young urbanites.
Designers created an elevated and minimal look for the brand, reflecting the limited and purposefully selected ingredients of the products. Color choices were rooted in the idea of a contemporary earthiness, vibrant yet relaxed shades that complemented energetic landscapes. The team designed visual assets including both product photography and lifestyle shots, as well as the packaging, all of which was brought in to ensure that the commerce platform and greater site layouts expressed the Koa brand story.