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Pets star on new packages of Hill’s Science Diet pet food

Pets star on new packages of Hill’s Science Diet pet food
Packaging redesign uses portraits of breeds and color coding to help pet parents easily find their pet food selection in the store.

New packaging graphics for Hill’s Science Diet cat food and dog food reinforce the brand’s science-based nutrition while creating emotional appeal with photo portraits of healthy, well-fed pets. The redesign affects more than 2,000 stock-keeping units, all bags and cans.

Complementing the striking photography, a call-out on the front on each package states: “Helped 9 Million Shelter Pets Find a Forever Home.” The back panel also highlights the brand’s commitment to nourishing shelter animals.

The redesigned graphics display the kibble size (or canned-food texture) and include images of “real food” ingredients used in the recipe, like chicken. The new packs also use color coding to signify product subcategories. Like the previous packaging, the new packs have a white background to convey the brand’s clinical attribute.

Colgate-Palmolive Co., which owns theHill’s Science Diet brand, worked with branding agency Beardwood&Co. on the redesign. The new bags and cans are launching currently in the United States, with other regions to follow.

Jennifer Giannotti-Genes, global associate design director at Colgate-Palmolive Co., and Julia Beardwood, founding partner at Beardwood&Co.,answer Packaging Digest’s questions about the Science Diet package redesign.

What was the goal of the redesign?

Giannotti-Genes: The goal of the redesign was to make Science Diet more approachable, with emotional engagement; to simplify the communication; and most importantly, to make it relevant to pet parents.

Text on the packaging is in multiple languages. Where are these products distributed?

Giannotti-Genes: We are distributed all across the United States, Latin America, Europe and Japan.

Is Science Diet a prescription brand? Is it sold through mainstream retail and ecommerce channels? 

Giannotti-Genes: Science Diet is not a brand that requires a veterinary prescription. It is our wellness brand, and it is sold through pet specialty stores and ecomm channels.

Did Colgate-Palmolive do any consumer research prior to executing this packaging redesign? If so, what did you learn? 

Giannotti-Genes: We spoke to pet parents many times throughout the journey. We learned a lot about how they feel about our brand, and what our current packs were saying to them. We did more upfront listening and iteration and not necessarily in the traditional way. The more we listened to learn, the more focused we could be with our design development as we progressed to finalization.

Please explain the new color-coded strips at the top of the bags.

Beardwood: Color-coded strips at the top of each bag help to identify three different product groupings within the Hill’s Science Diet line.

Giannotti-Genes: The red at the top signals our everyday wellness recipes—which include life stages—for those pets that are not dealing with a condition at the moment. The silver is for our Specialty products, which are for those pets who have a special need or condition—like Urinary, Mobility or Sensitive Stomach.

Beardwood: Pink signifies the Small Paws line, with specialized nutrition specifically developed to keep small dogs in top health. The color strips help retailers to organize the brand on-shelf and provide an extra color cue to make life easier for pet parents shopping online.

Is this color coding also used on cans?

Giannotti-Genes: Yes, there is color coding on the cans, too. The red strip at the top of the can signals everyday wellness recipes, and the silver is for special conditions.

Did you make any structural changes, or was this strictly a redesign of package graphics?

Giannotti-Genes: Some of our bag sizes were streamlined to be more cohesive in size (height) on-shelf.

What packaging suppliers were involved in the project?

Giannotti-Genes: We have a fantastic artwork-implementation team in our office in New York and in Kansas that leads all of the adaptations, color management, printing execution and printer relationships. Karen Vermeulen, Meghan Hestand and Mariana Zuniga are three incredible team members who worked together with our suppliers to make our pet imagery on-pack come alive!

Was the statement about helping shelter animals on the previous packaging?

Giannotti-Genes: Helping shelter pets is at the core of our brand purpose—it is something Hill’s is and has been very dedicated to and passionate about. It was not on our packaging before, but we knew it was a real message that pet parents wanted to know about. So now it’s on our package.

How many cats and dogs did you photograph for the packaging?

Beardwood: About 16 of each, for a total of 32.

What was their age range?

Beardwood: From kittens and puppies, all the way up to senior dogs and cats age 11 years-plus. Hill’s Science Diet makes pet nutrition that targets the specific needs of each stage of a pet’s life, so it was important to portray that age/stage in the pet image on each product.

How did you find the cats and dogs to photograph?

Beardwood: Loyal Hill’s Science Diet buyers recognize the product they buy by the photo of the pet on the bag. So we needed to keep the pet breed the same when changing the package design, so people could still find their familiar product. The photographer, Michael Faye, is based in Los Angeles, so all the cats and dogs come from that city and surrounding area. We chose pets that exude great health and lots of personality. Pet parents told us they really connect with our cast of characters.

How have consumers reacted to the redesign?

Giannotti-Genes: Our redesigned packs are just starting to roll out on-shelf and on ecomm, so it’s a bit early to tell. But from what we hear so far, pet parents are falling in love.


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