At P&G, a lot is said about the first moment of truth: the moment when a customer at the shelf chooses your product over another. I think packaging can have a big effect on branding and the first moment of truth. Especially for Colgate vs Crest toothpaste, where both brands have similar sizes, prices and benefits.

I’ve always thought that Crest had better packaging for its whitening toothpaste. I like the blue/purple color scheme, and the white jetting out from the ‘C’ makes it seem like my teeth will really shine. The white circles underneath the logo give the appearance of a photo glare, adding to the reflective effect.

Colgate, on the other hand, looks plain. There are no images, and the box around its logo looks cheap in comparison to Crest. Yet…when I saw the Colgate Optic White packaging from afar, something about it gave it a premium edge over Crest.


It took a few minutes to figure out what it was. The packaging is actually almost identical in layout. The logos, the toothpaste names, even the little flavor icon are placed the same .

The key is the material. While Crest’s toothpaste tube is made of the same plastic used for all their pastes, Colgate’s tube is of a metallic material, which gives it a premium, almost medical feel, as if the toothpaste was distributed by a dental practice. That association then makes Colgate Optic White feel like a trusted whitener.

I think I still like Crest’s whitening packaging better. But, this reminds me that innovative package design goes beyond the printed label. It also makes me sad that neither of these big players are that innovative.

One of my recent favorites, Hello, is an oral care brand which threw out conventional oral-care packaging practice altogether. I don’t notice many small oral-care brands on the shelf. But Hello definitely got my attention.


The brand positions itself as friendly to your mouth, the environment, and your bathroom ambience.

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“Our mouthwash cleans and refreshes without stinging.  And it tastes so incredible, you won’t want to spit it out. Another friendly difference? You won’t want to hide it under your sink.” 

While Crest and Colgate continue to battle it out with ever slight improvements, Hello is changing the game of oral care with a new brand identity.