Smart Design

Innovative products need innovative packaging.

by Bill Schroeder
TippingSprung LLC

Bill Schroeder is director of design services at TippingSprung LLC based in midtown Manhattan. TippingSprung offers translation and branding services. Visit the company�s Web site at www.

Brand-building today means seeking new ways to set your product apart and get your customer�s attention in an increasingly crowded field. New and improved products have always been a key differentiator. Using branded packaging to showcase product innovation is a relatively new phenomenon that we explore in this article.

For consumer drugs and healthcare, attracting attention on the shelf has always been a primary focus, especially given the overabundance of products and flavors crowding shelves today.

A recent example is GlaxoSmith- Kline�s Aquafresh Extreme Clean toothpaste. It reflects the growing trend to use silver-colored packaging to connote �clean,� �modern,� and �premium.� This probably stems from the use of stainless steel in high-end appliances, the popularity of white gold and platinum in the jewelry category, and the advent of titanium as a high-tech material. 

Extreme Clean toothpaste leverages this trend with its aluminum-style soft tube. In addition, a new, easy-grip cap not only looks more modern and technologically advanced, it also allows the tube to stand on end. This is an innovation in the soft-tube category. The clear plastic box surrounding the tube shows off the product while reinforcing the attributes of new, innovative, and clean. The product that purports to provide �a whole new experience of clean� backs up the benefit with a package design that also says �new experience of clean.� Clean new design, that is.


Another example of innovative packaging is in the growing personal lubricant category. Wet brand has broken out with a package design that stands out from the crowd.

The package looks and feels sporty and personal, rather than medicinal and clinical like KY and more traditional brands. The colors�deep blue, purple, and teal�are differentiators and evoke sports or fashion brands rather than pharmaceutical or healthcare products.

The package�s functionality is also designed to help the user. The bottle is curved and rounded to more naturally fit the hand. It also has grip indentations in the molded plastic, which allow a firmer hold on a bottle whose contents might make it slippery. Finally, the interesting shape and deep colors serve to attract attention on the shelf. The human eye is naturally drawn to diagonals; the Wet bottle structure angles its cap, creating the effect of a diagonal line.

While brand managers in consumer products have long known the benefits of strategic package design, what about the prescription pharmaceutical category? As with other business-to-business categories, here too there is an advantage to building brand through packaging.

The Advair Diskus inhaler for asthmatics is an example of design innovation in packaging that successfully builds brand power. The structure automatically counts down doses so that the user knows when it is time to refill the prescription. It also looks modern, high-tech, and completely different from other inhalers. This combination makes for a product that consumers notice, remember, and are more likely to ask for when visiting the doctor.

Geared toward giving people the ability to lead more-active lives, the sporty modern look and feel helps to reinforce that Advair brand promise.

The deep purple color of the product is also used in advertising and promotional materials. This reinforces the message that the product is new, unique, and better than other inhalers on the market. (For more on the use of color in branded packaging, see my earlier piece in the February 2004 issue of this publication.)

The message is clear: Your package is your opportunity to build your brand. And using innovative design for both the structure and outside package is an opportunity to win customers in a competitive and crowded marketplace.

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