by Megan Arnold
March 24, 2021
Packaging is all about making a statement, but what if your packaging is making the wrong statement? That’s what Unilever, the company behind brands such as Dove, Axe, Vaseline, and more, thought when it announced that it will be removing the word “normal” from all its packaging.
But, “normal” seems like such an innocent word, right? This shampoo is for normal hair. This face wash is for normal skin types. You’ve probably seen that word on practically every beauty-related product you’ve looked at. However, after conducting a survey of more than 10,000 people, the company discovered that the word was anything but innocent. In fact, 7 out of 10 people found “normal” to have a negative connotation. For people ranging from 18 to 35, the young demographic so many brands try to reach, that number jumped to 8 out of 10.
To be more inclusive of all types of people (because really, who’s normal anyway?), Unilever will be removing the word from over 200 of its products with a completion date of March of next year. In its place will be words to describe what the product actually does as opposed to what type of person it’s meant for. No longer is this face wash meant for “normal” skin, it’s meant for skin that needs added moisture.
This kind of change should really get you thinking about your own brand. Is your packaging truly inclusive of all people or are there seemingly innocent elements that may be alienating some of the demographic you’re trying to reach? After all, they do say the pen is mightier than the sword. Words can make someone buy your product, but they can also make someone put it back and look for an alternative.
The next time you design packaging, try to look at it through a different lens, one that’s representative of all types of people. If you need help, try creating an inclusive committee that can provide input from different perspectives. Or try sending out a survey to your company to see what they think. A fresh pair of eyes might pick up on something that you just never noticed. Even something as small as one single word.
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