There are specific conventions used in the design of packaging for the different things we can buy at the supermarket. We learn to read these conventions and become part of our automated parsing of our environment.

I think this is why the packaging visuals of the Bio-X range of insecticides caught me completely by surprise. My immediate reaction was “Ooo this one is for getting rid of babies. And look, there is a different formulation for older children!”

A convention for insecticide packaging is to show an image of the pest. When you visit the poisons aisle, you look for the thing you are trying to get rid of.

Another convention for insecticide packaging is to use brightly contrasting colours like black-yellow, black-red, red-green, bright orange or purple. The Bio-X designs use soft pastel colours on a clean white background – these are more “lifestyle” than poison colours.

Now I can guess at the intentions behind the Bio-X designs. They are trying to focus on the product benefits (healthy child and pets) as opposed to the functional features (kill bugs – not babies – dead good.) By choosing the “lifestyle” colours, they are also trying to reposition this product as a classy and modern alternative to the mere others.

These are admirable aims. The insecticide aisle is filled with same-same products, all competing on a functional (and therefore price) basis. Has Bio-X been successful? I’m not sure.