Industry Info

A kid-first visual identity transforms a personal health tool

Posted: June 6, 2015 by
David Litwak

To engage toddlers in not only the process but also in the selection of the potty training products they want to use, Kimberly-Clark Corporation (K-C), the makers of Pull-Ups brand training pants enlisted one of its longtime marketing allies, The Walt Disney Co. Together, they aimed to help parents get their children excited about the potty training process and the use of Pull-Ups.

“Disney has been a long-time partner to K-C. They’re a natural fit for us, as each of our brand values overlap to serve the needs of moms and children. We developed this co-branding opportunity because we felt it would resonate with both moms and children, who are increasingly shopping this category together,” says John Walther, K-C’s global design director.

“The main idea of the new Pull-Ups is the issue of choice for the young child,” he adds. “Generally, the choice of a training pant has been solely up to the parent, who brought them home and put them on the youngster. This may or may not have gotten the child excited about using them. Today, we are increasingly giving our young children more choices about food, toys and many other things. Why not have them help choose their own training products? Using characters like Doc McStuffins, Ariel, Jake and Lightning McQueen provides children an opportunity to pick which product they like best, while moms know they’re choosing a product they can trust.”

In offering these choices, the packaging of the Pull-Ups product became critical. Pull-Ups have been around for a long time with a well-recognized package, but K-C decided to change that package in order for the child to recognize the new character choices of the products inside. “The physical aspects of it (the package) changed quite dramatically,” says Siobhan Lonergan, executive vice president of design intelligence at Sterling Brands, the firm that worked with K-C to redesign the Pull-Ups package.

The background colors are the same, which helps product recognition by the parents but the graphics and images are completely changed. “The main departure from the expected package is the use of the Disney characters instead of the traditional photography,” Lonergan says. The previous package always featured a large central photograph of a toddler on a potty with the Pull-Ups dangling from his/her leg. The package also had a smaller image of a Disney character.

The new packaging places the Disney character(s) front and center in a large size. There are three smaller circles off to the side that are informational but are done in a Disney-type format. No photography is used. “It’s all about primary colors and circles and simple shapes,” says Lonergan. “The package is bouncy and bright. The children based their choice on the character, while the circles are key to the information for the parents.” The characters on the package are the same ones that are on the product inside. These characters also indicate to the parents whether that package contains product that is made specifically for a girl or for a boy.

“We conducted semiotics research into how children learn in order to inform our design,” Walther says. “The Pull-Ups identity is still there and hasn’t changed, but instead of using photographs of children on the pack, we’re using large images of the Disney characters instead. This makes the packaging more engaging for children, along with the use of simple shapes like circles. These are used to communicate the product features and benefit icons for mom, but also communicate a fun and bouncy image for the child.”

Being paired with a very visually strong Disney character on the package did raise one concern for K-C and the package designers. According to Walther, “the biggest challenge is, of course, the plethora of available characters and the need to decide on just a select few. Once that’s done however, comes the challenge of ensuring the Disney characters do not overshadow and dilute the equities of the Pull-Ups brand. We were able to avoid this by leading with a very strong Pull-Up brand identity on the pack and creating a new and ownable graphic language that reinforces our premium products and position in the category.”