Rightful owners Helen Gregory reports on how reshaping the design process helped to transform Tesco's own label range into a distinctive brand Tesco can rightly claim that its own label range is a success ­ and much of it is due to the new-look packaging. The chain's products had evolved as a "me-too" range and the same pack designs had been used for 15 years until a rethink two years ago which led to a paring down of the design department and a complete revamp across the entire product portfolio. The first packaging was launched 18 months ago and now almost half of the total number of products are in store, with 16% in production. The rest will appear on shelf over the next year or so, but Tesco is already heralding the new look a success. Sales of nappies were up 70% within eight weeks of relaunch; toilet tissues grew by 40% in volume sales (now the second best selling brand in the UK); and detergents grew from 17% to 26%, with some variants seeing between 40% and 60% volume uplift. Tesco's head of design Beverley Churchill says work on Tesco's own label packaging was not covered by firm guidelines, which resulted in an offer fragmented to such a degree that it was difficult for customers to distinguish one pack from another. Products were frequently redesigned making the task of finding them in store even more difficult. "We didn't have products on shelf long enough for people to become familiar with them," she admits. "We used to try to emulate brands because there wasn't the credibility for own label. But as credibility grew some products became bigger than the brands so it wasn't sensible to play second fiddle." Churchill says the chain had a number of aims when it came to introduce a new image and discipline: it wanted the new packaging to reflect the brand values; to make shopping easier; reduce the rate of redesign; and to develop packs people could recognise so that they could invest more in the brand and trust it more. It wanted to create a new look and feel that was uniquely Tesco's ­ to reflect the brand values rather than those of the market leaders. It was also essential to give the packs designs that would have longevity and allow customers to become familiar with them. And all this at a time when Tesco aimed to deliver double the number of own label products ­ between 6,000 and 7,000 a year rather than the previous 4,000. The chain had no formal roster for design which meant 39 agencies chipped in, along with nine repro houses all working in different ways and at different costs. It also had a team of 15 in-house design management team who handled an average of 3,500 lines each year. As part of the shake-up, the design agencies were cut back to a more manageable 10 ­ those that were judged able to understand the Tesco brand and adapt the new style. With this reduction and the creation of a roster of artwork and repro houses, Tesco cut the cost of packaging production and improved the lead-time time to market. By using the agencies as an in house design management team, the chain was also able to increase its capacity. Previously, every piece of artwork created by an agency would be signed off by at least eight people and go through four legal checks. Now, it establishes who is accountable for each piece of information and the number of people needed to sign off artwork has been reduced to three and the legal approvals to one After the shake-up, a series of seminars were set up to tell Tesco teams, the top 500 suppliers, packers and printers about the changes and the design agencies were taken through a series of workshops. Meanwhile, a month-by-month launch plan was put in place to ensure the redesign activity would fit in with planned product changes, seasonality and existing packaging stocks. Dave Richmond, creative director at one of the chosen design firms, Dave Richmond Associates, says before the shake-up, each company worked in isolation, "fighting their own battle against the brands". Working practices are changed for the better. "We have a much tighter creative guideline which makes the process easier and the end clearer and more coherent." Churchill believes Tesco's design is now easier to manage, and that the process is highly visible and accurately tracked, while own-label packs are cheaper and quicker to produce. She adds that customers see a clear unification of Tesco own label across the store, which makes shopping easier and more efficient." We're very pleased," she says. {{MANAGEMENT FEATURE }}