Brand strategy / Design strategy / Brand architecture  / Visual identity / Trademarks / Packaging / Quality management system design
REQUIREMENT
Africa's largest retailer, the Shoprite Checkers Group, invited me to provide a holistic solution to their non-foods and homeware private label portfolio. They applied a 'branded' strategy, and each of their brands owned a unique identity not associated with the retail group brand. The product listings grew daily, and they sold them across three mainstream retail chains throughout South Africa and 15 African countries. These brands were often generic, copy cat or inconsistent because being private label products no budget had been allocated to branding up until this point. There were no brand guidelines or design or production management systems to manage the daily rollout out new products, and brands.

PROCESS
Strategy
I collaborated closely with product owners of each category to ascertain needs, identify gaps, and gain insights into sales, market behaviours and product segmentation. I directed and undertook an exhaustive product and brand audit across three retail chains identifying gaps in brand groupings and clusters across price points relating to major retail stores for multiple consumer groups.  

The outcomes guided us in cleaning up product ranges and strategising the brand architecture for 14 product categories. Each category owned up to 15 brands to enable a balanced product spread across different markets and income groups.

Creative
Once the new framework and design strategy was in place, I developed over 55 new homeware brands across all 14 categories and rolled out 750 print-ready artwork files. Over and above the mainstream lines that competed with brand leaders on sales, we identified opportunities to create specialist, niche and premium lines. 

Each brand's development process included name generation, trademark design, packaging design, and new structural design for product display boxes and cards. New packaging design formats were developed and prototyped from the ground up where required, including the design of new dielines to allow for stronger packs, reinforced box bases, tamper proof lids and hanging display boxes that did not tilt, lean, or break over time. By improving structural design, we reduced the risk of breakage, with packaging strong enough to withstand the various merchandising constructs, distribution chain and rigorous journey across the African continent.

Aisles
An integral aspect was designing the packaging according to the aisle experience, guiding shoppers in the moment of decision. We considered the many different store formats and varying aisle formats and sizes and developed a set of standards. We determined that the packaging would bring new order and structure to the merchandising and displaying products by guiding shoppers through the brands, ranges and tiers. Design and merchandising principles of colour blocking and offset contrast were applied to support a dynamic and energised aisle experience.

Teams
I managed artwork and production seamlessly by setting up remote teams to sync across ongoing and complex approval processes across corporate and legal divisions. I set up new design and packaging quality management systems to efficiently manage the quality output of all ongoing global print and production partners. 


RESULTS
World-class brands and packaging aligned to the various price points, consumer expectations and accurately communicated that the retailer offered quality products at highly competitive prices. The packaging and merchandising was really the rounding off of, and providing a consumer face to, a highly organised and well planned retail system. My client experienced a migration of customers from competitor stores offering similar merchandise at higher price points because the new level brand equity reassured them of quality.

KEY LEARNINGS
It takes a village.. to reorganise an entire and ever-growing private label portfolio across a large enterprise. The powers of co-creation, collaboration and well designed, tailor-made project processes kept every detail of the fast-paced, long term project on track. Yet the sheer scale and complexity never stopped us from pushing boundaries in creativity and quality. We aimed for the most distinctive design and the highest-quality packaging available within tight budgets. Working together towards a common goal made it all possible and very rewarding for my client.

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