Open up your parents' medicine cabinet - you know, that oddly hinged mirror in the bathroom that has pill bottles in it - and you’ll find stalwarts of the supplement industry: OneADay, Solaray, Centrum, Nature Made, Nature's Way, Nature's Bounty.
These and many other giants of the supplement space were built over decades, and as a result, they’ve built up a decades worth of design baggage that signal their age, their audience and their relevance - or lack thereof.
Swooping shapes, glowing gradients, light bursts that feel appropriate for laundry detergent, unrealistic fruit and vegetable imagery, lots of copy and claims packed onto the front panel. These residual design tropes have been around for so long that its resulted in these brands feeling generic and geriatric.
Contrast these brands and their residual design tropes with the new class of supplement brands that are being designed to feel more lifestyle than medicine: Lemme, Seed Health, Athletic Greens (AG1), Ritual, fatty15, ARMRA Colostrum, Flovitamins (Uro), Rae Wellness. They all utilize emerging visual design elements - being simple, expressive, and confident - which clearly signal a new set of principles and ideals amongst the category and competition.
Even the names between the two classes of brands is telling. Where the formers feels clinical (centrum) or on the nose (1-A-Day) - the latter is cool (Lemme, Seed), edgy (Fatty15, Uro, Rae) or sophisticated (Athletic Greens, Ritual).
This new wave, along with other modern mainstream brands (Olly, Bloom Nutrition, Vital Proteins, SmartyPants) has established themselves as the “it” brands for Gen X, millennials and Gen Z. But it’s not just design that’s helping these companies win, it’s also their product strategies.
Al Ries wisely stated that one of the immutable laws of branding was that “the power of a brand is inversely proportional to it’s scope.” In other words, a brand that tries to be all things to all people ultimately undermines the brands meaning, purpose and power. This explains why we believe Vital Proteins is the premier collagen brand, because that’s all it makes. They’re hyper-focus is an advantage when at the same time hundreds of other full spectrum supplement companies also sell collagen.
Brands with product focus have power. Look at Athletic Greens (supergreens), Armra (colostrum), Seed (probiotics), Ritual (Multivitamins), Uro (vaginal health). Not only are they focused, but they’re fulfilling needs previously unmet in the marketplace or at least solving a consumer pain point in a fresh way that resonates.
All that to say, the behemoths of the industry are going to face challenges from these better designed, better informed, product-focused brands if they aren’t careful in refreshing their own image and message if they want to achieve continued success - otherwise they’ll succumb to old age and the way of fish oil pills.