vertex judges gustavoTo 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 Gustavo Piqueira, principal, Casa Rex of Brazil

  1. What do you look for in great Brand design?
    Even though at the end of the day our jobs come down to communicating specific messages from brands to their audiences, today, the best designs aren’t simply the ones that ‘suit project needs’ — a project that’s simply ‘correct’ or ‘adequate’ just doesn’t cut it anymore. People are looking to be surprised, and want to feel a deeper connection to the brands and products they choose to associate to their lives — and the projects that establish this connection are the ones which are able to go beyond mere sales goals and appeal on a different level, be it visual, emotional etc. They instigate something within people. Of course, we must still make sure that the client’s needs are fulfilled, but that cannot keep designers from seeing things through a unique lens, and always bring out a unique perspective through their work.
  2. How can Design help retailers and their brands differentiate?
    Design has the main role of communicating through the most basic human senses. A simple glance can directly affect the emotional side of people and, in a matter of seconds, can tell nearly everything that person needs to know about a brand or product even if unconsciously — and that’s where design comes in. When a brand gives that special attention to matters related to design, and allows its particular story to be told in an engaging way to its audience, it is more than likely that retailers will have their products “jumping off the shelf “.
  3. How do you help retailers select great design instead of obvious or easy design?
    Each project will always bring a different answer, sometimes this will be experimental and innovative, sometimes it will be toned down and subtle — but there is one thing key to avoid: the ‘standard’, the ‘I’ve seen that before’ feeling. It’s very easy for brands to cling on to ‘successful design’ formulas, but of course, this is all very relative, what worked for someone is not the answer for everyone.For them to understand this, like anything else, it’s a matter of argumentation and exchange of points of view — we always look within each project’s market and analyze what is going on, specific trends, characteristics and issues that could bring any potentialities or possible jeopardy to that particular brand. But of course, in the end, it comes down to our work — when it reaches past common ground and truly brings a ‘great’ differential that is clearly tangible, then the client’s decision is much easier to make.
  4. What advice do you have for retailers working with design consultancies/branding agencies?
    I’d tell them to expect and demand a result not only capable of translating all of their needs, but which also presents a unique outcome. Never should they settle for anything less than what they’re expecting — they must always think ahead if they want to take their brands further.And for this to happen, they must choose their agency very, very carefully, but most importantly, after they’ve made their choice, it is key to trust the designers.
  5. How can retailers avoid the mistakes of the past and the missteps of national brands?
    First of all, it is key to approach each case individually, a competitor’s mistake may not be a mistake for you, and of course, what have worked for someone else may not be the answer you’re looking for. But one thing is for sure: change is essential — be it subtle or groundbreaking —and it should be encouraged in order to keep brands moving forward. The contemporary market is very fast, and change is key to renew relevance — the fear of failing cannot bring brands to lock themselves in their comfort zones.And so, the most important thing is to be aware about past mistakes, not simply to avoid them, but also to learn from them— ok, maybe you’ve heard that one before, but it’s simply the truth. Great design is an endless cycle of hit and misses, learn from your misses, and you’ll hit your target harder.

Gustavo Piqueira, principal
Casa Rex
Piqueira is the most recognized graphic designer in Brazil, receiving over 200 international design awards and serving as consultant to major global companies as a leading trendsetter. He has designed typefaces, illustrated children’s books and written 13 books on various topics.


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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.