A long partnership of innovation and brand guardianship in oral care

Unilever series of toothbrushes
Client Unilever
Industry Consumer goodsHealthcare
Services CMFMechanical engineeringProduct design
Compasso d'Oro Selection: Unilever Tecnic Advance
ADI Design Index: Unilever Vertical Expert

18 years of innovation and brand guardianship building a $1bn brand.

DGI has worked closely with Unilever’s Oral Care Division since 1997. Participating actively in the Division’s product innovation workshops and providing support in every area from Product Strategy to New Product Development, Brand and Product Guardianship, we have become a key trusted partner, valued for our know-how and custodianship of the brand’s product history.

Unilever toothbrush for kids
Product design of Unilever toothbrush

Global brand & product empowerment

Our work with Unilever empowers its brands and products through innovations that make them a valued integral part of users’ everyday lives, delivering performance improvements, and clearly conveying their key product benefits and USPs. Following a creative multidisciplinary approach that integrates in-depth analyses of consumer practices and attitudes towards ergonomic and materials studies, DGI has made major contributions to the leading brands in the Unilever Oral Care portfolio, including Aim, Close UP, Mentadent, Pepsodent and Signal in projects for EU countries and international markets, ranging from Brazil to the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore.

Close up of smile
Icons for Unilever

Changing perceptions 
of oral care

Oral care design has changed radically in the past 20 years, shifting from simple performance and function to interaction and experience. Toothbrushes are now an integral part of our everyday lives. We expect them not just to help us brush properly, but also to make us feel great. They have become symbols of a happy, healthy lifestyle.

2016 Vertical Sensitive Cheeks + Teeth

Double Cleaning Action in a single gesture

Detail of Unilever toothbrush
Product design of Unilever toothbrush
Product design of Unilever toothbrush

A Timeline of successes

2014 – Vertical & Vertical Sensitive

An extremely innovative new product in the Unilever oral care portfolio, marketed in Italy and Austria under the MENTADENT brand, in France and Spain under the SIGNAL brand, in Greece under the AIM brand, and in Finland, India, Indonesia and the Philippines under the PEPSODENT brand.

The Insight

Everyone brushes their teeth regularly, but not always correctly, as recommended by dentists. So what’s the right way to brush one’s teeth?
The toothbrush should always move perpendicularly to the gums, and always from the gums towards the teeth. So, brush downwards for the upper teeth and upwards for the lower teeth. Adopting a vertical motion, move the toothbrush from the gum towards the teeth at an angle of 45 degrees to remove any plaque under the margin of the gum.

The Challenge

To design a toothbrush that simply and intuitively facilitates the correct brushing motion, indirectly promoting the optimal interaction between the object and its user. An object carefully designed down to the smallest details (materials, finishings, grip) and in all its component parts (bristles and grip) so that it can educate and improve quality of life in a simple everyday activity.

Product design of Unilever toothbrush
Product design of Unilever toothbrush

The details behind the behavioral change

The Head

The design brief for the Vertical Expert specified two functional objectives – facilitate vertical brushing and promote effective interdental cleaning through a multiple plaque-removing action – and one user pleasure objective, namely that brushing should become a caress, with less pressure applied to the gums, thereby simultaneously improving precision and thoroughness.

The Handle

The design of the Vertical Expert handle with its cylindrical 360° radial grip zone prompts the user to rotate the toothbrush between their fingers, facilitating the vertical toothbrush motion recommended by dentists.

Vertical Sensitive

Product design of Unilever toothbrush
Product design of Unilever toothbrush

2012 – White System New CMF Design

Detail of Unilever toothbrush

2009 – Torsion – Double Action

The toothbrush with a twisting head

The Torsion™ toothbrush enables users to brush even the hardest parts of the mouth to reach. The design is based on a functional concept that is easy to understand and intuitively connected to the product benefit, since it recalls the rotating movement one makes with one’s hand when trying to brush more deeply inside the mouth. Torsion™ enhances this action and carries it out independently.

Unilever toothbrush and packaging
Product design of Unilever toothbrush

2005 – Essential, India

The challenge Hindustan Lever presented to us was to design a brush that would meet the demanding needs of the Indian market, delivering performance and appeal at a very low cost. Environmental impact was a further consideration.
The result was Essential, a brush that sells over 100 million units annually. Weighing just 8 g compared with the average 18.5 g, that’s a saving of over 1,000 tons of plastic every year!

Product design of Unilever toothbrush

2004 – Air Precision, the gentle toothbrush

Bristles set in a bed of air

The Mentadent Air Precision features a head that’s nothing short of revolutionary because the bristles are set in a bed of air, meaning they can move up, down and in any direction independently from one another. As a result, they adapt to the surface of the teeth and can make their way delicately between the teeth with a precision that would otherwise be impossible.

Product design of Unilever toothbrush
Detail of Unilever toothbrush
Detail of Unilever toothbrush
Function scheme of Unilever toothbrush
Construction detail of Unilever toothbrush

2004 – Integral (Complete Care)

INTEGRAL combines all the functions of dedicated-action toothbrushes in one, featuring a head that’s made up of different bristle clusters, each with a specific cleaning function.

Rendering of Unilever toothbrush
Detail of Unilever toothbrush

2003 – Experience by Close Up

The Complete Care brush that launched the new Close-Up brand for young consumers in Europe.

Product design of Unilever toothbrush

2003 – Inter-Act

High-performance super-interdental toothbrush

Deploying advanced technology, Inter-Act is the only toothbrush to combine a special set of bristles, which clean the tooth surface using soft rubber blades, with sophisticated fan-shaped brushes that penetrate between the teeth for effective plaque removal.

Product design of Unilever toothbrush

2002 – Professional, India and Italy

A toothbrush created for the Indian market, featuring a low weight to bring down the cost.

Product design of Unilever toothbrush

2002 – Kids World by Signal

The kid’s toothbrush that stands up all on its own thanks to suction pads in the base.

Unilever toothbrush for kids
Unilever toothbrush for kids

2001 – Contact by Mentadent

Toothbrush with wings on either side of the head to massage the gums.

Product design of Unilever toothbrush
Detail of Unilever toothbrush

2000 – White System, NPD

The first toothbrush to feature a rubber blade in the head that has a whitening action, because it adheres to the teeth like a soft windscreen wiper during brushing, gently polishing them. Still on the market after 15 years and still a best seller.

Product design of Unilever toothbrush
Detail of Unilever toothbrush

1999 – Adaptor

Toothbrush with bristles set in rubber, enabling them to adapt to the user’s mouth.

Product design of Unilever toothbrush

1998 – Insider

Toothbrush with two independent flexible heads for superior cleaning of the inner dental arches. The first three-material toothbrush, featuring a rubber coating on the neck to protect the gums against accidental impact.

product design of Unilever toothbrush

1997 – Technic Advance

The first toothbrush to feature a triple-angled neck, inspired by dentist’s tools, to reach the most difficult areas.
Awarded the Premio Selezione Compasso d’oro 1998. Still on the market today.

Product design of Unilever toothbrush
Product design of Unilever toothbrush

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