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Usave is a low-cost, no-frills, limited assortment discounter with over 500 small-format stores catering for lower-income markets. The Usave food product private label portfolio had traditionally applied a 'pure value' and 'generic' design strategy, with packaging designed to make products look familiar but much cheaper than rival brands. I was invited to propose a solution that would improve sales.



Understanding the consumer needs, need states, and in-store context clarified the need for more powerful, iconic brands. We needed to raise the bar on packaging design quality across all products without increasing costs. We learnt that the unique in-store experience offered many opportunities to create a richer emotive experience for shoppers through the private-label products that dominated the shelves.

Brand strategy 

The new strategy repositioned the retailer's offering and its private-label portfolio from that of 'cut-price products' with an imitation design strategy to that of a 'genuine competitor'.​ To level the playing field in the competition against entrenched brand leaders, I set out a framework, rationale and process to create iconic brands for the private-label portfolio. The new brands would feel like entrenched brand leaders. but they would not imitate the design or the strategy of the competitors. This approach gave the portfolio the rigour needed to challenge established brand leaders and to build new consumer relationships by addressing more nuanced need-states. 

Brand architecture and design strategy 

The brand architecture defined the product ranges and helped us develop the migration strategy, measuring the change ratio needed for each brand in the private-label portfolio. Most brands required a total overhaul, but a few needed a subtle shift and upgrade.​

The new brands were developed to be iconic and to offer portals to consumer trust and connection. The bold, cheerful personality of the master brand, Shoprite, was unpacked, and its essence was woven into each brand in a uniquely different way, creating brands with strong narratives and backstories.​


Brand development and packaging design

New names were generated, and beautifully crafted trademarks were developed and registered. Packaging was designed around strong brand narratives and personality and a carefully strategised measure of warmth, a hint of familiarity and even nostalgia.


The result was a cheerful and emotive shopper experience, despite the no-frills environments. The playing field was levelled, and cut-price products were given the same, if not more, leverage over price-competitive brand leaders.

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