Categorized | Americas, Asia, Columns, Europe, Features

Let’s Invent Your [Own Brand] Future Together

Posted on 11 February 2021

By Maria Dubuc President MBD

The challenge of writing this article for the January 2021 issue of Global Retail Brands magazine is avoiding the cliches of Covid-19, lamenting the lost year of 2020, and the inevitable forced change. Instead, I will ignore some of those cliches and wholeheartedly embrace others.

Let’s begin and end with quotes from pioneering thinker, American engineer, architect, and futurist R. Buckminster Fuller. For more than five decades, Fuller developed solutions that reflected his commitment to the potential of innovative design to create solutions for “more with less” and thereby improve human lives.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

With Fullers’ words in mind, I have three imperatives for 2021 designed to build a new private brand model that makes the existing model obsolete.

  1. Start from Zero

Stop asking how to make your products and brands in your private brand portfolio incrementally different. Stop asking to mimic national brands.

Start from Zero – assume all of your brands are disposable, and do not assume sales volume equals brand worth. Start with a blank piece of paper and create the brands your customers cannot live without.

As a retailer, marketer, brand builder, product developer, and global sourcing expert, you can create brands that speak to shoppers in a relevant and engaging way. You can create brands composed of products sourced from any country globally, at any quality and any price.

Take a close look at Target. Over the last ten years, the retailer has systematically reinvented its private brand portfolio. They did this by dramatically killing billion-dollar private labels to launch brands. Target’s latest move was to kill Archer Farms and introduce Good & Gather.

  1. Engage your Customers

All retailers say they are customer-focused, but the reality is many are data-focused or research-focused. They have reduced the people they feed, clothe, and care for to nameless, faceless statistics, and the insights gleaned from the practice are shallow and small.

STOP – talk to your customers, listen to your customers, know your customers. Ask them what their problems are. What are their fears? How can you help? The answers will help you create brands that solve their problems.

  1. Express Yourself

Establish a point of view, a personality, an attitude. Then commit to it 100%. Use it to create marketing, branding, package design, and products that are unique and ownable. Fund and approve great design that brings that personality to life.

Last year Publix reinvented its Publix Premium brand by abandoning the welldesigned but traditional black-tiered design in favor of an artistic and expressive new look. The new design stands expressively on the shelf next to its iconic Publix package design. The result is a brand expression that is ownable and unique, while fully Publix.

2021 is the perfect opportunity for retailers to make the old private brand model obsolete. Those who do not will join JCPenney, Radio Shack, Montgomery Ward, and A&P in the retail graveyard.

As promised, we end with an evocative quote from R. Buckminster Fuller, “We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.” At Marketing by Design, we specialize in being Private Brand architects. Let’s invent the future together.

Maria Dubuc

A 30-year pioneer in creative management, Maria’s key talent is to combine a career’s worth of branding experience into something personal and unique for each and every client. In the Private Label space, she has coordinated both new and rebrand programs for a diverse set of retailers including Wild Oats, Smart & Final, Sprouts, The Home Depot, WinCo Foods, PriceSmart, 7-11 and Natural Grocers. With SKU counts from 1,000 to in excess of 10,000 annually, Maria focuses on the scalability of design and the execution of SKUs driven by the efficiency of commonality and consistency.

Digital Edition Sponsored by Global Tissue Group