Often associated with stress and anxiety, teeth grinding (or bruxism) is estimated to affect one-third of the general population. But while some solutions address the physical results of bruxism, fewer approach this issue with an eye towards normalizing its roots in mental health. Enter oral care innovator Otis and its new identity created by branding and marketing agency SMAKK, designed to aid the company in its mission to provide a more empathetic solution while making night guards more accessible and affordable.
With Otis, SMAKK saw an opportunity for a brand to lead a conversation about the connection between mental and physical health. “Many people suffering from bruxism have gone through a traumatic event or are experiencing stress or anxiety,” explains SMAKK Founder Katie Klencheski. “Also, some may experience the symptoms of bruxism, like headaches, jaw pain, and sore teeth, without even knowing that they are grinding their teeth during the night. It was time for a company to acknowledge these truths and commit to addressing them at the core of its brand.”
Accessibility was also key — stressing that Otis is an alternative to a dentist visit, making it more affordable and accessible to people who may not have insurance. This was especially important to Otis’s founder, a licensed dental professional who saw a gap in the industry he worked in. To find its audience, the brand needed to inspire a level of trust that aligned with the fact that they use the same labs as dentists do, but without the markup.
SMAKK met these challenges with new branding, website, packaging, as well as social and email content, all featuring language and visuals that were both approachable and credible, positioning the brand as a disruptor in the category that was changing the conversation around oral health. This included engaging with customers in a way that not only educated and informed them about what bruxism is, but supported and empowered them as well. With a personalized brand voice, Otis could ease people into the conversation, getting people talking about oral health and removing the stigma that comes with mental health topics.
Design-wise, SMAKK supported this positioning with a playful logo and friendly lifestyle photography that provided a bridge to the brand’s trusted, clinically-backed pedigree. Also anchoring these designs are a series of illustrations (created in-house) with graphic line work that feels fun but disciplined. These illustrations were built with flexibility in mind, so that the more detailed, colorful versions could be used in larger compositions, with more minimal versions for smaller mobile platforms.
“The oral care space has a tendency to feel very sterile or clinical in its design and photography, especially when looking at how they portray product how-tos,” says Klencheski. “Our research turned up a lot of studio-lit, back-to-basics photography when brands were trying to demonstrate the product or show use-cases. So, when brainstorming how we could build and demonstrate tutorials, we thought these illustrations would be a fresh, yet clear way to do so.”
As embodied by SMAKK’s sustainability roadmap, the Mission Plan, Otis was also eager to showcase its commitment to sustainability, using recyclable, medical-grade materials to make the night guards and shipping them out in carbon-neutral packaging. This also became a key asset in the brand’s messaging and design.
In partnering with Otis, SMAKK found a client similarly invested in using its platform to make the world a better place. “I think this is a good example of a brand that truly cares about the people it’s trying to serve, talking to them in a way that is credible while also being approachable and warm,” adds Klencheski. “Now, with our work on this identity, we hope that others can feel that sense of empathy and comfort, qualities that will help Otis not only provide medical solutions for its customers but actual relief.”