Vertex - 5Questions - Rick

To start off the New Year and lead up to the judging of the first annual Vertex Awards International Private Brand Design Competition I 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 Rick Barrack, Chief Creative Officer & Managing Partner, CBX of the U.S.

  1. What do you look for in great Brand design?
    Breaking through the obvious.Design that communicates a clear and concise message with a point of difference. Something that differentiates in the marketplace and from the competition. Don’t just push product with basic product shots, benefit statements and a cheaper price. Look to make a paradigm shift in a category, celebrate your brand’s unique difference in the marketplace.
  2. How can Design help retailers and their brands differentiate?
    Retailers all have some attributes that are unique to them — whether that be the way the arrange their goods, the way they make their goods, their service, etc. Design shows how to put those unique attributes on a pedestal — make those unique elements the hero and thus create a lasting image in consumers’ minds as to why they can get something from that retailer that they can’t get from anyone else — and that’s the most important piece of retail today because if they can get it someplace else, it’s a price game.
  3. How do you help retailers select great design instead of obvious or easy design?
    Reminding our clients the value of good brand design is not just about being a national brandequivalent, but standing for something more than that and building brand equity and loyalty.Design is about solving a particular puzzle (all the variables: physical, merchandising needs, space constraints, consumer desires, etc.) in an elegant way where the end solution makes a total impact greater than the sum of all the parts. Design is about creating more for less. Design puts together a puzzle of needs in a way that creates more impact with less resources. Great design has to solve for certain challenges within certain constraints. If it does that well, in a way where the investment is less than the net experience, then you have great design. However, great design doesn’t have to mean design that’s never been done before. Great design takes the core idea of “obvious” and makes it special, unique, nuanced and desired.
  4. What advice do you have for retailers working with design consultancies/branding agencies?
    Trust them. Partner with them. Trust in the process and recognize that the creative process is iterative.Take the time upfront to work with the team to understand what all the possible opportunities are. Only then will you be able to make decisions confidently along the way because you’ve explored the alternative paths and know why you did or didn’t pursue them. If you dive right into design, thinking you know what you want, in the short term you may have less confidence in all the decisions that must be made along the way, and in the long run you might regret not stretching your ideas further because retail design is a long term investment.
  5. How can retailers avoid the mistakes of the past and the missteps of national brands?
    The biggest mistake national brands make is not “sticking with it”. Whether that be good values, advertising, their customer base, their long-term equities or any other unique-ness. Particularly in public companies where the pressure to grow is constant, too many brands and retailers will try anything new to light sales. But, creating consumer awareness of what you’re doing is quite expensive and is likely to wipe out the margin that might have been gained in increased sales. When brands “Stick with it,” they build on the momentum that has been banked over the long-term.

Rick Barrack, Chief Creative Officer & Managing Partner
Barrack has twenty years experience in consumer and retail branding, and is the creative vision behind U by Kotex and the rebranding of Duane Reade’s private brand portfolio.


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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.