In mid-October UK based retailer Waitrose & Partners’ introduced a new Free From range designed by agency Williams Murray Ham.

Free From is a completely new sub-brand concept within the Waitrose & Partners private brand portfolio, and the first range to launch under the new “& Partners” banner, unveiled last month.

The new design represents a shift in mindset for “free from” food, emphasizing that the products are full of flavor instead of focusing solely on the removal of potential allergens such as gluten or lactose. Presented as a positive, progressive eating choice, regardless of whether you have allergies or not, the new Waitrose & Partners Free From range is designed to make shopping for “free from” foods easy and provide a wide range of delicious products.The Waitrose & Partners team created a range of meticulously developed products, with extra care having been taken to ensure that products are free from allergens, but uncompromising on both the great taste and quality expected from Waitrose & Partners. This pride in the food formed the starting point for WMH when creating the brand idea: “Free From… Full of Taste”.

Elen Ormson, Health Brand Manager at Waitrose & Partners, commented: “WMH fully understood our desire to make the new Free From range an exciting, enticing choice for discerning shoppers. The design successfully emphasizes the fact that the range is free from gluten or lactose while embodying quality, taste and deliciousness.”

The key visual mark is a pair of bespoke ‘f’s’ that double as typographic braces, framing the food. Sophisticated and simple typography communicates what makes these products so special.

To hero the product, Williams Murray Hamm also wanted an editorial-style approach to the photography. As such, it collaborated with award-winning photographer Jonathan Gregson, who brought the vision of “Full Of Taste” to life with an artistic flair.

The stunning food photography – with its use of marble, zinc and ceramics – is combined with a refined color palette of taupe, grey and ivory. On packs where products are made visible with windows, the typography is used without photography. Being unified in tone, yet not always the same, give the design a pace throughout the range.

“We set out to create a visual identity that looked and behaved differently to the category more broadly, with a more positive, editorial approach. Reinforcing Waitrose & Partners’ position as a trusted expert in this growing category,” said Chris Ribet, lead designer at Williams Murray Hamm.

This new brand will target two distinct audiences. The first is allergy sufferers, who make up 71% of customers. The second is health seekers, expected to be a major source of future growth, as the new Free From branding and products broaden the appeal of the sector.Free From products are one of the fastest growing food categories, outperforming retail experts’ expectations to date. Its substantial growth is predicted to be £673 million in 2020, according to Mintel.

The design ensures that all 40+ products in the range – which includes gluten-free lasagna, spaghetti, flapjacks and granola, and lactose-free halloumi, mozzarella and feta – are clearly labeled to show which allergens a product is free from.

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Christopher Durham
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.