Designing a better dishwashing experience
I studied brand strategy under the Global Chief of Design of General Mills and the VP of Design of Panera Bread Teman and Teran Evans in my course at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. We were tasked with repositioning and redesigning an existing product, in our case, Palmolive Dish Soap.
Step 1: Brand & Product Audit
We got our hands dirty, literally. I tested out every dishwashing liquid on the market, studied their design features, and determined that they were all functionally the same, although some marketed certain features like "eco-friendly" or "tough on grease" more than others. Palmolive's true differentiator was its 221-year history of in the beauty product market, which stood out in a sea of "tough on grease" competitors.
Step 2: Define the Target & The Need
We identified our target consumer, the "self-caring essentialist", as those between the ages of 25 and 35 who live in cramped urban spaces, are single, and care about their own wellbeing, the environment, and the quality of their products. This population segment is growing as we found from our analysis of trend data.
We conducted surveys to get data on dishwashing behavior.
And we found a white space between the Home care and Personal care markets.
Step 3: Create Brand Strategy & Product Design
Our solution solved the needs of this segment by offering a more sustainable product, in a convenient single-use format, that helps create a comfortable home environment. The product's natural self-care ingredients ensure that customers take care of their hands while taking care of their space.
Step 4: Deliver the Pitch
In our final pitch, we presented Palmolive Pearls, a revolutionary pod format of dish soap with essential extracts for hand care. Palmolive Pearls takes the original functionality of Palmolive and elevates the boring dish soap to a ritual lifestyle-oriented product that resonates with young consumers.
To bring our idea to life, we transformed the pitch space into a Palmolive Pearls Popup Shop, complete with display stations, mood scents, 3D models, and full length posters.
To demonstrate the natural, transformative properties of our chosen ingredients, we created display cases with actual botanical specimens - lavender, turmeric root, plumeria, etc. Each card described the skin benefits of the ingredients and which of the five formulations it could be found in.
This project was one of the most valuable lessons I've had in strategic design, and Teman and Teran helped hone my abilities of user empathy, visual creativity, and market identification.

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