Midol has been through a lot of brand iterations since it was founded in 1911.
At first, it didn’t have anything to do with periods. It was marketed simply as a safer alternative to popular pain relievers of the day (narcotics) and then briefly as a cure to hiccups.
Then finally, Midol found its niche: menstrual pains. In 1938, the brand started running ads that, true to its time, leaned on feminine norms and shied away from any overt mention of the bloody monthly phenomenon itself.
While there were design tweaks over the years, it’s now been quite a while since the brand got an update. And a lot’s changed. Over the last few years, ads for feminine care products have made serious strides toward a more authentic portrayal of what it’s like to have a period, and the culture’s understanding of femininity and gender has also gone through revolutionary changes.
In a bold overhaul of brand colors, logos, messaging and imagery, Midol is looking to introduce itself to a new generation of women—and reintroduce itself to many others.
Around the end of 2018, the Bayer-owned brand started gathering information on consumer awareness and brand recognition. Its research found that many women knew what Midol was, as it leads the period category in sales, according to IRI data provided by the brand. But it wasn’t clear to many consumers that Midol was more than just a pain medication—it also addresses other symptoms that women experience during their periods, like fatigue and bloating. The team also found that consumers didn’t have much of a sense for what Midol stood for as a brand, or even what color the packaging was.
That made it easy for the team to abandon the old look and feel, said Martha Seidner, a design manager at Bayer who leads design strategy across the company’s North American Pain and Cardio businesses. “This research validated us to take this revolutionary step,” she said. “It just gave us that permission.”
Working with design agency GoDutch and ad agency Oliver, the brand settled on bright, bold pink and yellow for the packaging, with some of the previous design’s blue to ground the logo.
“There were a lot of things that we could really move on from, and there was this great opportunity to embrace modern, bold femininity,” said GoDutch creative director and partner Andy Keene. That led the team to a color palette that was not only stood out on the shelf, “but we also needed to kind of leap forward and reflect what women look for and really feel relevant to,” he said.
To debut the new look, Midol is leaning heavily on social, with Instagram-friendly GIFs and images, as well as a Snapchat filter. It’s also doing paid posts on sites like Refinery29, which target the millennial and Gen Z demographic that it’s hoping to reach.
Rebranding is a smart way to introduce a product to consumers just entering the category, according to Prashant Malaviya, professor of marketing and senior associate dean for MBA programs at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. If you can get consumers on board with your brand as it grows into the age category where they’d begin using the product, you have a potentially loyal customer for decades, he said.
“The use of color is nice and striking and bold,” said Malaviya. “Lots of happy faces, that’s always good.”
While the coronavirus pandemic has slowed some things down and delayed the opportunities for certain in-store initiatives, the problem that Midol addresses isn’t exactly something that can be postponed, according to Bayer vp and general manager Lisa Tecklenburg.
“Women aren’t going to stop having periods and symptoms through a pandemic,” she said. “And we’re really proud that we’ve been able to continue to supply products and get products that women need.”
The brand also launched on-the-go packs for its product concurrent with the rebrand—small, two-pill packages that can fit in a purse or a pocket. Because “sometimes, you don’t know when your period symptoms are going to hit,” said Tecklenburg.