Fifty2 – The MPB Project: Trader Joe’s

Trader Joes Front“Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project,” will present a carefully curated look at the best Private Brands in the U.S. across all retail channels. The weekly series looks at each great Private Brand with insight, analysis and original photography. In early 2014, this will be published as my first book along with a several new chapters that focus on strategy, packaging and design learnings from the included brands.

I am looking for retailer-owned private labels that are BRANDS – brands that bring their positioning and business purpose to life through great design, purpose, expertise, confidence, emotion, lifestyle and innovation.

To submit a brand for consideration please email

Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s is no ordinary supermarket; it’s the rare American grocer that is also a confident and well-defined brand. Their stores are offbeat lands of discovery that have reinvented the drudgery of grocery shopping and created a fully immersive brand experience.

The retailer’s authentic, funky foodie roots and quirky in-store culture date to their founder, Joe Coulombe, who opened the first Trader Joe’s in 1958 in Pasadena, California. The stores continue to bring their founder’s vision to life.  The retailer is heavily committed to its Private Brand, stocking shelves with a combination of value-focused organic and natural staples as well as exotic and unique food discoveries. In short, it truly differentiates with its retail brands, its in store experience, and its Private Brand.

Their Private Brand, unlike many of the private labels of suburban America’s homogenous grocers, reinforces and builds on the uniqueness and brand personality of the Trader Joe’s master brand. Through great product and unique brand packaging design they have not only bucked the private label trend of monolithic white brand design, but they have embraced compelling design to create something special. The brand often appears as humorous sub brands focused on specialty foods or categories including: “Trader José’s”, “Trader Joe San”, “Joe’s Diner” Trader Ming, Trader Giottos, Trader Jacques and Baker Josefs.

Their Private Brand design has eschewed the rigors of strict brand packaging design and architecture guidelines opting instead to create products that consistently bring their Brand personality to life. Although the retailer continues to embrace category-focused unique package design, over the last few years the packaging has evolved to include a loose information architecture and color palette featuring consistent placement of the Trader Joe’s logo, a decorative holding shape around the product name and a warm complementary color palette. The Private Brand as a whole embraces a vintage, sometimes-kitsch feel that reinforces the master brand and encourages the Trader Joe’s customer to enjoy the discovery.

Brand: Trader Joe’s
Brand Focus:
Trader Joe’s
Monrovia, California
2011 USA Retail Sales ($000):
2011 Stores:

To submit a brand for consideration please email

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Christopher Durham
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.