This fascinating profile of the late Private Brand design icon Don Watt appeared in today’s Canadian daily The Globe and Mail.
Marketing guru Don Watt rebranded Loblaws
‘Wherever I look I see a bad line, a dumb colour, a dumb shape. It would be so easy just not to have that,’ he said in 2005
You probably have never heard of Don Watt, but your brain has no doubt registered his work, especially the part of it that reacts to colours and images and how those interact to make you want to eat, drink, wear or otherwise own whatever they adorn.
Described variously as a marketing visionary, retail guru, brand builder and even genius, Mr. Watt almost single-handedly redesigned the Canadian supermarket from the ground up, changing the way we shop for everything from soup to nuts – literally.
“He was among the first designers to envision a system of branding the entire store, including shelf fixtures, product packaging that went on shelves, aisle signage, department signage, interior design, exterior signage, advertising and promotional messages,” said a 2008 cover story in Private Label Magazine. “In essence, he created a total communications system to deliver a unified store brand message to customers.”
Mr. Watt saw it all in simpler terms: “I want to get rid of ugly,” he told Canadian Business in 2005. “Wherever I look I see a bad line, a dumb colour, a dumb shape. It would be so easy just not to have that.”
Considered by many to be the most influential retail designer of the past 25 years, he was best known for creating the hugely successful Loblaw house-brand packaging, for both the No Name and President’s Choice lines. The latter, with the stylized “PC,” gave the products an up-market cachet and carried the stamp of approval from the boss himself (and Dave Nichol’s own handwriting).