This guest post is from Maria Dubuc, President and CEO of Marketing by Design (MBD) and Workflow by Design (WBD), and Vice President, Big Red Rooster. Maria is a 25-year pioneer in creative management, who has both won and judged the Vertex Awards.

Maria’s key talent is to combine a career’s worth of branding experience into something personal and unique for every client. Smart & Final, The Home Depot, 7-Eleven and PriceSmart are among the retailer programs she currently runs.

We were thrilled to sponsor the inaugural Velocity: The My Private Brand Conference in Charlotte last week. Conversations were lively and engaging, presentations informative and entertaining. Besides the occasional drilling and late night concerts, a good time was had by all. At least all of us at MBD/WBD!

Thank you to Christopher and My Private Brand for such a great opportunity, and congratulations for getting meaningful conversations going within our industry. Special thanks also to the speakers, one and all, you left me wanting for more.

There were some common threads that ran throughout the event. Brand Building. Transparency. Authenticity. Product Quality. Millennials.

Here are some of the key themes that I took away from the event.

  • Walmart is focused on their brands, and they are focused on quality and innovation.
  • Millennials are here and they’re shopping. Retailers are taking notice.
  • Retailers must embrace multicultural shoppers to remain relevant.
  • It’s more important than ever for retailers to carefully select, and partner with, their vendors based on brand positioning and strategy.
  • Staples proved that associates are the best brand ambassadors.
  • Fresh Direct uses radical transparency as the differentiator for private brand, gaining trust through honesty with their fresh produce rating system.
  • It doesn’t have to take a “lifetime” to bring private brand products from concept to shelf. (With our help) BJ’s was able to reduce their timeline from average of 140 to 35 days.

So that’s a wrap. Kudos to Christopher on a successful first Velocity Conference and the launch of his new book, Vanguard Vintage Originals. It was great to look back to our roots and learn from the pioneers and true innovators of private brand.

Can’t wait for next year and hope to see you all at PLMA [booth F4612].

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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.