Packaging Design Key for Independents Seeking Store Brand Growth

Nancy Frame shares insight on how independent retailers can make their private label products stand apart from other items on store shelves.

With inflation on every shopper’s mind, the opportunity to grow your store brand sales has never been better. And for private brands that really want to compete, great package design is the price of entry, today’s sophisticated customers expect it. Your store brand offerings will live right next door to national brand competitors who have invested heavily in design and marketing… so your brand must work hard to win over new customers.

But with hundreds of SKUs to be designed in multiple categories, how can a smaller grocery chain efficiently roll out store brand products that meet their customers' expectations for quality products at reasonable prices? The goal is building trust in your store brand program so shoppers feel good about buying a great product at a value price… versus sacrificing taste or quality by making a budget purchase.

To start, your private brand should have a unique identity that aligns with your overall store positioning, building on the equity and positive values your store shopping experience provides to customers.

Focus on identifying what makes your private brand different from other supermarket private brands in the market. What can you offer that others can’t? Your unique selling proposition should be something your target audience already finds valuable.

Understanding your target audience is key to tailoring the products they are already purchasing with a better price point or features. Establishing the brand’s target audience and value proposition creates the narrative that informs the visual strategy. A well-designed store brand package must consider a wide range of container sizes and category configurations (from a cereal box to a tuna tin to a frozen vegetable pouch), logo variations, color palette, typography, messaging, and graphic elements to have a strong and consistent brand look throughout the store that also works within each product category. 

A brand style guide is a key document, the brand road map that sets up design guidelines that content creators can use to develop additional product packaging and on-brand marketing content.

For example, the 365 brand design system we created for Whole Foods Market was designed to attract conventional grocery store customers. Prominent use of the bright colorful brand mark boosted visual shelf impact across the grocery set and elevated the everyday value proposition of the 365 line, forming the foundation for the design system. Featuring the brand mark on each package made rolling out new products fast and easy while staying true to the company’s values and better-for-you proposition. 

Our design system for New York City-based Fairway Market’s private label brand system used carefully curated stock photos, a saturated color palette, and modern typography with lots of white space to stand out in their busy urban environment.

For Earth Fare, we created a brand system that used illustrations based on their famous tomato brand mark that was adaptable to various packaging configurations. Along with proprietary typography, an earthy color palette, and a set of custom icons, we solidified the look throughout the store and made it easy for customers to shop for the brand.

Print production is the last step in the process, but needs to be planned for from the very beginning of the design process. It's important to identify the printers you’ll be working with and get their dieline and print specifications. Make sure you're working with actual product samples and do your research to understand the particular nuances of each category.

Independent grocers can enjoy the many benefits of having their own brand. Make sure you start with a solid strategy in place, design cost-effectively, and plan ahead for print production.


Nancy Frame

Nancy Frame is the owner of Nancy Frame Design, a women-owned firm dedicated to helping store and CPG brands stand out and grow with distinctive packaging design.

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