Private Brands: The Principles of Equity And Environment

In an upcoming book on “Grocery Store Brand Design”, to be published by Liaoning Publishing Group and sold globally US-based branding and design agency united* dsn, was asked to write the preface. This is the first post in  a three-part series of guest posts, we share the preface and The Seven Key Principles for creating strategically compelling Private Brands.

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Part 1: The Principles of Equity And Environment

From a branding and design point of view, there has never been more interest in the grocery store, and how we communicate, shape consumer decisions, and even create theater within it. This is true in every part of the world. There is, of course, a respect we all must have in the cultural uniqueness of the grocery store, from country to country, where some shoppers are in the store just twice a week, to some grocery and marketplace experiences where shoppers are interacting every single day.

And even with these varying cultural nuances in frequency, experience and loyalty within the grocery store, there is a universal interest in making the store brand act more credibly and overall be more compelling to consumers.

This is what this book is all about, providing a window to all that is happening around the world in grocery branding, and provide inspiration for how store brands can go so much further in the future.

We have found that across all great store brand examples, there are unique underlying stories in their development, but there are seven principles that they must live by to truly be strategically compelling.

The equity connection
It is critical to immerse yourself in the overall mission of the retailer, its perception and differentiating equity as it stands today, and what is possible in the future. To do this, the best branding partners collaborate with the top leadership of the retailers they work with, as well as the top merchants and store brand specialists within the organization. The best store brands and their designs are not created in a vacuum. They take into consideration all the key objectives a retailer is angling towards, and then consider how to optimize store brands as one of the key weapons to achieve their mission. Store brands reinforce the overarching equity of the retailer and vice-versa, and when they don’t, they fail.

Environmental support
A package can only accomplish so much. Even when we created Via Roma for A&P supermarkets (which you will see featured in this book), which is stunning in its shelf presence and attitude, we argued for more environmental media in the store to support the brand. In the wide stream of 40,000+ products, that many of the biggest supermarkets carry today, your store brand can get overwhelmed if it doesn’t have that off-shelf, environmental support. Give it life and expression beyond the package. Use the theater of the store to support your brand.

Perry Seelert is strategic partner of united* dsn, a design consultancy based in New York and San Francisco. To contact Perry: or 917.267.2857

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Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.