Recently, we sat down with Helena Yoon, creative director of the Anthem office in Toronto, to discuss current trends surrounding the imagery found on brand packaging, and how private labels have changed throughout the years. With her expert insight, brands can incorporate these ideas into their creative strategy to stand out from the competition.

Compared to national brands that typically reside in one category, private label brands carry a wide variety of products, across many categories. With a crowded shelf, enticing shoppers becomes difficult when packaging design lacks communication needs or has the appearance of being “cheaper” than national brands. Now, more than ever, store brands have the power to drive design innovation to be disruptive in their category.

Beautiful, culturally inspired designs break the mold of what private label artwork typically looks like,” says Helena Yoon.

In the past, consumers would gravitate toward store brands, as they were more cost effective. However, now you see Millennials are more apt to buy store brands over national brands, as they see these brands as being of higher quality than they used to be. There is also oftentimes a story or social cause behind the store brand — think: the Whole Foods Market “365 Everyday Value” brand, with natural and organic selections. This new influence has helped to build loyal customers by presenting private label packaging design as valuable, beyond price.

Looking back 10 years, private label brands consisted mostly of generic, function-driven packaging. Product imagery was also quite bland, with downplayed designs, which led consumers to feel they were inferior to national brands. Now, private labels have stepped out of playing the “me-too” game and have carved out a unique path of their own. Looking to present-day packaging, private label brands have gained consumer interest by:

  • Using artful illustrations
  • Injecting humor into the design
  • Using unexpected images
  • Following cultural movements
  • Telling the authentic brand story

It is important now that private label packaging focuses on meeting communication needs beyond price, to make it easier for the consumers to make education-based decisions. But how can brands stand out among similar on-pack messages? Compared to national brands, who can spend a significant amount on marketing; private label brands must revamp their packaging to compete, and to reach shoppers.

For more ideas on how to stand out in-aisle, watch Anthem’s very own Rob Hollands, Brand Experience Director at our London office, present an informative webinar titled “Nestlé– Projecting the Future of Retail”.

The new consumer desires authentic, transparent storytelling and has paved the way for new packaging design. These designs consist of source-of-origin or ingredient based images.

Above all else, whether the change is large or small, all visual changes to the brand should be supported by clear, strategic positioning and reflect current shopper mindset,” says Helena Yoon.

Brands that tell a simple, bold, and honest story tend to resonate more with consumers and play a significant role in setting brands up for success in a dialogue with consumers.

To learn more about how brands can shine on-shelf, download the latest issue of Patterns – “Making Connections: Brand Insights from Around the World”.