I think design is kind of everything,” says Craig Dubitsky, founder and CEO of Hello Products, who has either started or been on the ground floor of several ascending brands, such as Eos, Method and, of course, Hello Products. He opines that while some business leaders primarily think of design as form, color and texture, he thinks it’s so much more. “It’s about being hyper thoughtful about how people interact with their things,” he says—essentially elevating the everyday.
“One of my favorite quotes is from Leonard Cohen, who’s a famous singer-songwriter,” Dubitsky says. “Some people don’t care for his voice, but I appreciate his poetry. He wrote this great line, ‘There’s a crack in everything and that’s how the light gets in.’ I’m looking for these little cracks—ways to do things with a little bit more attention, a little bit more soul.”
Putting the personal back into personal care
The personal care category, specifically the oral care subcategory, often focuses on communicating performance claims, and all those metallic cartons for toothpaste can give shoppers the wrong impression that the brands’ package design intent is simply to outshine the competition.
“This category is called personal care but I think over time it became impersonal care because it’s about new and improved and this product gets you, eight shades whiter in two minutes or whatever the claim might be,” Dubitsky remarks. “Going back to this notion just being thoughtful about everything. We try to not be just a brand but be a personality.
“This,” he says while holding a toothpaste carton, “is something hopefully you could trust, you can interact with, you can enjoy using it. Sure, it tastes great and works brilliantly, absolutely, because it has to. That’s like table stakes, right?”
At the Package Design Matters Conference in January, Dubitsky gave us a sneak peek at new products and cartons for the brand. In addition to new toothpastes, including fluoride-free and SLS-free options, Hello updated its kids and adult toothpaste packaging with Forest Stewardship Council-certified kraft paper boxes printed with soy inks. The cartons feature bold colors and Dubitsky’s signature tone of voice—a blend of serious science with a wink.
“Yeah, I write the copy,” Dubitsky says. “When you open the box of our brand new whitening toothpaste, it says, ‘Hello sunshine.’ So even inside the cartons, they say ‘breathe freely, meet your new squeeze.’ Even on the back, we have some fun. The cartons say that the toothpaste is “free from dyes, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, microbeads, triclosan and preservatives, gluten and peroxide—brilliant like you,” and it’s a whitening toothpaste. These are little touches, but I’m obsessed with every touchpoint.
“The UPCs [universal product codes] even had to look kind of funky because if we’re able to dictate what the package says, why not make it a little more interesting or as I like to say mint-eresting,” Dubitsky adds with a wink in his eye.
Each consumer has a story
“We write our narratives through our stuff, through these things that helped define ourselves,” Dubitsky says. “I think we live out in the open now, whether we want to or not. Our pictures are taken a million times a day by devices we don’t even know exist. I’m not trying to paint a picture of this bizarre world where there is no privacy or anything. It’s just a reality, and we do it to ourselves—right? We’re posting on social media all the time; we want to share.”
This, he argues, means that package design has to do so much more than just sell features from the shelf. It also has to be something a person is willing to and, perhaps, even desires to share in public. “So the idea behind products like breath spray used to be that you had done something wrong and needed to cover it up,” Dubitsky remarks. “Instead, we made something that can live out in the open and be fun and is sharable. I’m offering this to others all the time, saying, ‘Hey, you want a hit of this? It’s delicious! It’s mojito mint. It’s really nice.’
“The conversation isn’t I did something I shouldn’t have,” Dubitsky adds. “It is about being open. Part of my brief for all the products is that they should be pretty enough to display because why not, why should you have to hide something?
Sharing the love
Brand fans are not only buying up product, but also communicating their enthusiasm for the brand back to the Hello Products team and others. “People are writing us love letters and posting videos,” Dubitsky reports. “Someone made this whole video going on and on about how delicious our blue raspberry and bubblegum toothpastes are, and we, of course, made a video and sent it back to him. We’re lucky that we get a lot of love.”
Ever the serial entrepreneur, Dubitsky is gearing up to help other consumer product categories become friendlier. “Our constant curiosity is what keeps us evolving,” he says. “It’s called, Hello Products, not Hello Oral Care! I can’t share what’s on the horizon because we want to surprise people, but we have probably about 10 years of NPD [new product development] already done. What I will tell you is that there are certain category adjacencies that were looking at and anything fresh, fun, friendly and natural is fair game!”
A new whitening toothpaste has been added to Hello Product’s oral care line. Shown center is a sales sample complete with a miniaturized version of the toothpaste’s new carton, which tell the brand message through multiple visual and tactile cues. The rough surface of the kraft carton communicates that this is a Naturally Friendly product, while the metallic ink and spot varnish give a nod to science and technology to convey the product’s efficacy.