To celebrate Chinese New Year, I would like to introduce you to an ancient Chinese brand that’s already been on the market for more than 100 years without any significant changes to their brand identity or their packaging. The product is Zheng Gu Shui, and it’s a pharmaceutical product sold as a pain reliever. I was introduced to this product years ago. At that time I was living in Asia. Amazingly, this product has now made its way to the Dutch market.
Zheng Gu Shui literally means “fix bone water”. Sometimes people call it miracle water, saying it can cure fracture without any surgery, though I’ve never seen any evidence of that, and never use this medicine to cure fractures without consulting a doctor first. Today, it’s used to treat all kinds of injuries, including sports injuries and accidents. The formula was created by a Chinese master herbalist more than 500 years ago. Guangxi Yulin Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd. has owned Zheng Gu Shui since 1956, and in 2006, the Chinese government designated it as first “China Time-honoured Brands”.
Now let’s take a look at the packaging:
The artwork on the consumer packaging makes the box itself look good. The red and white colour combination that’s integral to this brand’s identity has been consistently applied, as has the Yulin logo. All of the legal requirements for selling this product on the Dutch market have been met.
One minor issue: they could have ideally saved some space at the bottom of the box close to the text for the batch code and best before date, instead of putting them on the front of the box.
The box includes a bottle as the primary packaging for the “fix bone water”, an extra lid for spraying the product, and a manual.
The bottle is properly sealed with a temper-evident closure, meaning that the consumer can directly see if the seal has been tampered with. This is a must for almost every OTC (over-the-counter) pharmaceutical product.
So again, the packaging meets the requirement. Even the volume content is indicated at the bottom of the bottle, but unfortunately they forgot to put the recycling symbol to indicate the type of plastic. Hopefully the Chinese government will put more effort and attention into the environmental aspect of the packaging in the future.
Last but not least, this is the part that I question the most: the way the Chinese box manufacturer designed the die cut. Take a close look the pictures below:
When I receive die-cut drawings (the starting point for creating artwork) from Chinese suppliers, they always design the set-up of the box like the example above. It’s very difficult to explain to them that, from a European point of view, this set up is wrong. It looks untidy (see right picture), which means this part might be mistaken for the back of the packaging. But even if you want to turn it around as is, it still doesn’t work, due to the way you close the lid. I hope you can still follow my explanation, and if not, just compare these pictures with a similar box that has been produced in Europe. Then you’ll see what I mean straight away.
Funny, isn’t it? Even with this high-value brand, where they’ve put a lot of effort into carefully protecting their brand and packaging, the same mistakes are still made. But Chinese people may see this not as a mistake, but as a different way of thinking.
Hopefully one day I’ll find the answer, or perhaps someone can explain it for me.