Smart New Package For a SmartMouth

The idea: Part of having a smart mouth is knowing when to shut up. So, when Triumph Pharmaceuticals hired St. Louis design firm Obata to redo packaging for its mouthwashes, it was all about making careful editing decisions so the main message would come through loud and clear: SmartMouth has a unique, patented product claim to keep breath fresh for 12 hours. The Scopes and Listerines of the world can keep breath fresh for one or two hours, tops.

The thinking:
The look and feel of the SmartMouth package didn’t suggest a premium-priced product and this long-lasting message was muddled in text and a sea of color. “The average retail price is $11-12 and the package didn’t support that price point,” said Claudia Moran, president of Obata. “The package was too cluttered and the blue gradation made the package blend in with those around it. It was almost like they were trying to blend in rather than stand out!”

How was it created:
While Triumph is a company run by a family of dentists, it “didn’t want anything too technical or pharmaceutical looking,” said Rich Muth, marketing chief for SmartMouth. The company also wanted to retain its blue and green logo, which is a visual representation of the product—two solutions are housed in separate containers, then mixed twice a day to create the potent breath freshener. Obata presented the client with several prototype packages. Some tried to capture the alchemy of the product by showing blue and green liquids merging. Hypnotic, effervescent dots were a popular motif, but the team ultimately liked a design with a plain white background that evoked the simplicity of an iPod. Touch experience was also considered, and the box was given a richer UV coating. “At that price point, people think of as a personal care product,” Moran said. Also more premium? A French tuck design, which means the boxtop opens toward the back rather than the front. Little things make a difference. “People told us, ‘It just looks fresh, dignified, competent,’” Muth said. “And those were words we were looking for—it was really good to hear that from the consumer.”
Not so smart design:
The old package was too wordy when what it really needed to say is, “This mouthwash lasts for a really long time!” In fact, the 24-hour claim was changed to 12 on the final so that expository verbiage (“Rinse twice daily…”) competing with the main message could be nixed.
Time to change:
The “12 hour fresh breath” line is surrounded by a circle of dots that reinforce the time message by mimicking a George Nelson Ball Clock. The 3D logo, primary and secondary messaging (“Powered by Zinc”) on the simplified box establishes the selling points hierarchy without as much info overload.