vertex judges steve2To start off the New Year and lead up to the judging of the first annual Vertex Awards International Private Brand Design Competition we sat down with each of the judges and asked them five questions about Private Brands, package design and differentiation – their answers present a unique global perspective and depth of knowledge of the retail brand space.

The completion closes January 15th so ENTER TODAY.

Today’s conversation is with Steve Kazanjian, Vice President of Global Creative MeadWestvaco based out of the United States

  1. What do you look for in great Brand design?
    We believe that brilliant brand packaging is the sum totality of all elements.  It’s a well orchestrated narrative through the entire consumer experience – from the first in-aisle impression, through repeat use, and end-of-life. It’s about how each element; the graphics, the substrates, and the functionality all compound on each other to create a lasting impression that lives well beyond the functional product use.
  2. How can Design help retailers and their brands differentiate?
    While no one can underestimate the power of great design to raise awareness and drive trial, we mustn’t forget that in-use packaging satisfaction is a key factor in driving repeat purchase behavior.  It’s not only about driving competitive positioning on the store shelves, it’s also about how packaging can create powerful differentiation during product use.
  3. How do you help retailers select great design instead of obvious or easy design?
    Great design drives bottom line revenue.  Leverage your Insights teams (whether internal or external) to test repeat-purchase intent.  If you can show that your design can drive lift, you’ve developed a powerful selling tool.
  4. What advice do you have for retailers working with design consultancies/branding agencies?
    Step past the visual and into the visceral.  It’s not only about how it looks, it’s also about how it makes your consumers feel.  Provide your agency with the emotion you’re trying to convey, not just the graphics you want to depict.
  5. How can retailers avoid the mistakes of the past and the missteps of national brands?
    Packaging is an integral component of the overall marketing mix.  It’s the ultimate media vehicle for both reach and frequency.  Think of it this way, 100% of your brand’s purchasers interact with your packaging.  How you hold it, open it, dispense it, reseal it, and dispose of it are all moments to forge an emotional connection between your brand and your consumer.  To that end, start developing your packaging at the same time you’re developing your product– not as an afterthought.

Steve Kazanjian, Vice President of Global Creative
Kazanjian serves as the creative lead for MWV’s most valuable brand-focused projects. His creative strategy is stunning in its simplicity: connect a brand’s emotional context with consumer purchasing habits. His workshops on innovation within the packaging industry make him a sought-after speaker internationally.


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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.