Designing a Brand for the U.K.'s First OTC Birth Control Pill

A look at Elmwood's work on Hana

In 2018, HRA Pharma tapped Elmwood Design with a unique assignment: taking a previously prescription-only birth control pill and creating a consumer brand around it—including an identity, package design and more—after it was approved to be sold over the counter in Britain.

Elmwood created the design and packaging for Hana, which were brought to the U.K.'s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and passed regulation. (The MHRA this summer reclassified desogestrel products, allowing them to be sold over the counter, sans prescription.)

Here's a look at the brand design:

"The product is for women and a female name puts women at the forefront," Deborah Stafford-Watson, head of provocation and strategy at Elmwood Design, tells Muse.

Women in the U.K. can, on average, wait weeks for an appointment with their doctor. With its availability at any pharmacy, Hana increases accessibility to contraception. Hana can be found behind the pharmacy counter, following a consultation with a pharmacist.

"The packaging of other medications for women looks dated, medicated and pink, with cold, clinical copy," says Stafford-Watson. "We wanted to turn the space on its head. We are building a brand, not a product, with women at the center of it. It's an empowered choice."

Packaging is a deep purple, and 28 mini pills surround the name Hana, signifying a constant cycle and consistent protection.

Depending on where it's purchased, a three-month supply of Hana will cost between £19.75 and £21.95. For those who can get an appointment with their doctor, the cost is free with a prescription.

Havas London, meanwhile, created a TV and shopper marketing campaign to promote Hana as an empowering option that puts women in control. 

Here's the TV spot:

Havas London x HRA Pharma - Hana

Creative launched at the end of July throughout the U.K.

"It's a bigger decision to change contraception versus buying cold medicine," says  Stafford-Watson. "Social media and digital media play a big role in how women are making choices. There's tension between efficacy and empowerment. Female strength, but you're also putting medication in your body. It's a fine line to walk. Female health is not represented well from a design aspect. So it was time to change that."

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