This month’s edition of the packaging trade publication Brand Packaging features a three-page interview with yours truly as well as a preview of some of the groundbreaking new photography for the book by Teri Campbell of Cincinnati-based Teri Studios.
Attention to Retail with My Private Brand’s Creator
BRANDPACKAGING sits down with branding cohort Christopher Durham to discuss the lay of the retail brand land.
Christopher Durham (CD): In early 2004, I became the brand manager/creative services manager with Delhaize Group-owned grocer, Food Lion. I worked on everything from TV commercials to in-store signage to private brand. One project focused on the consolidation and optimization of the private brand portfolio from 60-plus labels to 12 brands, something that would serve me well when I moved to Lowe’s Home Improvement. We relaunched a streamlined portfolio with a new Food Lion brand, Home 360, and repositioned On the Go Bistro, the home meal solutions brand. After close to five years, I left Food Lion and moved to Lowe’s, where I worked as a brand manager focused on private brand strategy and, over five years, created, managed or repositioned many of its private brands including Blue Hawk, Style Selections, Harbor Breeze, Utilitech and allen + roth.
In 2012, I left Lowe’s to devote myself full time to My Private Brand and founded the retail brand-consulting firm, Folio28 LLC. I also launched Prêt a Marque, a spin-off site dedicated to the growth and development of exclusive, licensed and private brands in fashion and beauty.
BP: Tell us more about the My Private Brand website. What are you accomplishing with it?
CD: I launched My Private Brand in 2009 as a side project. It allowed me to get my feet wet in social media and blogging as well as talk about a subject that I love. There are a lot of trade magazines, consultants and brokers talking about traditional private label buying, product development and bad package design. I saw an opportunity to build a site focused on retailer-owned brands that’s designed to foster innovation, encourage debate and write the next chapter of private brand management. Five years and 3,000-plus posts later, the site continues to grow and push retailers to build and manage great brands.
BP: You have a book in the works. What is the angle behind “Fifty2”?
CD: “Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project” will be released in early 2014. The idea for the book came after a conversation with a retailer at a conference. He believed private label in America was all the same: simply a value play wrapped in bad design. I found the statement disturbing and realized it honestly wasn’t true. The book is a celebration of the 52 best retailer-owned brands in the U.S. across all channels. They bring their positioning and business objectives to life through great design, purpose, lifestyle and innovation. Each week, I present one of the brands on My Private Brand along with insight, analysis and original photography. The brands run the gamut from Craftsman at Sears, to Avant at Staples, to World Table at Walmart.
Working with New York City-based brand consultancy Wallace Church on design and photographer Teri Campbell of Teri Studios, we have created a beautiful book presenting the brands, their packaging and products in a unique and compelling way that rethinks not only traditional packaging photography but also traditional private label. My hope is this book will redefine not only the perception of private brand in America but also its potential.