You Are Your Package

My gas-and-electric company sends me cheerful greetings once a month. Each month I get a two-page bill filled with numbers and calculations that I neither understand nor read. Many lines list details about my “KWH” usage. In real-world energy use, I don’t know what a “KWH” translates to. They tell me how much energy I used -- but not how I'm doing it. Is that number good or bad? There’s a monthly bar-chart that I can use to compare my energy consumption this past month with the same month last year. But doesn’t last month’s weather have a lot to do with it? And of course, they tell me how much I owe them.

Dan Formosa

To me, this “package” is the face of my gas-and-electric company. And I hate my gas-and-electric company. I’m not alone in this.

Sure, they supply gas and electricity to my house on a daily basis, but I expect that. Moreover, I don’t see it. I definitely see the bill. It’s a missed opportunity for them, because that once-a-month communication is a chance to reach out, to provide me with useful information, to provide a gauge as to how I am doing personally in terms of my energy use. They don’t. To them I am just a house near a pole.

Here, in contrast, is my visit to my local pharmacy. Somebody thought about the pill bottle they give me -- its shape and the ability to read the label. And there’s an upbeat advertisement on the counter about an easy-to-fill syringe. I don’t even use a syringe! But I read it. I get a sense that at the very least they are trying. That they care. Somebody, not a company, but somebody, a real person or people within that company, cares! And a sense of caring can be the most important aspect of any product brand. It’s vital.

As a designer, understanding products and relationships, I think a lot about touch points -- every meeting a person has with a company’s outreach or offering, start to finish, first awareness to final disposal. Those touch points define the personality of the company and, in turn, define the product.

In this regard many manufacturers may be no different than my electric company. Using a product every day, week, or month and seeing its packaging is an extremely meaningful touch point that not only contributes to health -- in the mind of the patient it defines that product.

Packaging provides a tremendous chance for a company to show us that it cares! It’s a chance to elicit feelings of love or hate. And love, in the medical category, can bring loyalty. Which can bring adherence. Which can improve health. Which can make us all feel better.

Stay relevant as a medical device packaging engineer

Dan Formosa, Ph.D.

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