Medicine Packaging: A Typographer’s Worst Nightmare

Walking through the aisles of a grocery store or pharmacy, the amount of “terrible-type” is enough to make any designer vomit Comic Sans right where they stand. Specifically, the over-the-counter drug aisle is one that requires special attention.

Medicine packaging needs a serious, well-overdue facelift. Each box is loaded with so much information, in a language most people don’t understand, in a point size small enough for ants. It’s enough to make your head spin.

When I began working on this design for an Information Design course, we were required to do preliminary interviews with the target audience to get a better understanding of their thoughts, interactions, and experiences with the OTC drug of our choice. I chose Children’s Cold medicine and focused specifically on mothers. Some of the information I gathered about the original design included:

  • Difficulty locating the expiration date
  • Confusing wording of directions/doses
  • Too many measurements on the measuring cup (that aren’t in the same units used in the directions)
  • Amount of information on box is overwhelming.

I wanted this design to cater to mothers (and perhaps grandmothers) that are worried and possibly a bit panicked about the health of their child. I laid out the information in the drug facts panels in a way that is easier to scan through and understand. The drug facts are broken into three panels, as opposed to being crammed onto one side, to allow for larger text and better hierarchy between sections. I also decided to do away with the bottle. Instead, this design uses pre-measured liquid sticks. The liquid sticks eliminate the need for measuring, are more sanitary than reusing a cup, and conveniently create a more child-friendly aesthetic. It’s a win across the board!

If you look through the gallery of this packaging design you’ll notice some of the other issues I addressed with this design.

[ilightbox id=”6″]VIEW COMPLETE GALLERY[/ilightbox]

    Fun Facts About the Process

  • I originally based the box template design off of crayon boxes.
  • The tubes used are actually glitter glue sticks. I squeezed out all the glitter and soaked the tubes in vinegar to completely clean them out.
  • The liquid shown in the tubes is actually jello. I wanted to reduce the chances of actual liquid spilling on, or destroying the boxes before I had a chance to get photos of them.
  • People HATE that most cold medicine boxes aren’t re-sealable. Two small dots of velcro made this any easy problem to solve.
  • Deborah Adler’s redesign of prescription packaging for Target was definitely a source of inspiration. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about Google it. Like, NOW. You deserve it.)

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to the Kroger Co. trademark, logo or any of its intellectual or creative property. I am not profiting from their work or selling designs involving elements in which I do not own. The logo used in these designs are property of Kroger Co. ☺