Part 3: Researching Supermarket Branding

“Next time you’re at the supermarket or food shopping online, examine what strategies companies use to design their ranges. For example, look at the design decisions made in their luxury, budget, Indian food or other ranges. How do these designs create a sense of branding, and how is the overall image of the supermarket maintained across them?”

Tesco finest

As you can see, Tesco has used the “Tesco Finest” logo reversed out on every item. Black does tend to make things look classy! There’s several typefaces in use across the range. You can see for example that ‘Swiss’ (chocolate), ‘Assortment’ (shortbread) and ‘unsmoked’ (bacon) are the same script…’Rich and intense’ (coffee) ‘indulgent quadruple chocolate…’ (cookies) are another. You can see the packaging is designed to evoke luxury, in keeping with this being tesco’s top end products.

The wine is really only identifiable as part of the range by its top label.

Tesco value

Like all value brands, its easy to identify! The ‘everyday value’ wording is as prominent as the actual product description. The emphasis is clearly on price.  In each case, its the same logo with the wobbly underline, on a pale background with a cluster of little images in a limited colour palette.( I quite often buy value items and I’m enough of an anorak to look at the little images – they do vary across the range, which is a nice touch.) There’s nothing dramatic here; they are meant to be quiet, and not fight the other labels!

Mid Range

Whats interesting about Tesco’s mid range own brand, is that its broken down into sub categories. Heres the general packaging – tesco logo, description of item in the same serif typeface, and a monochrome image of the product.

Some ‘cosy’ branding, such as ‘Redmere farm’ aka tesco’s own brand veg

And (probably because my friend Helen is due to give birth any day!) Nappies – under the slogan “Tesco loves Baby”.

Product Variation

And how many ways can you package the pretty much the same product?? Quite a lot. Here’s apple juice:

Its interesting that we are all so attuned to packaging that we can probably predict the price point by simply looking at it. But these two are tricky – they are exactly the same price!!!

Then there’s with fun movement and characters, obviously aimed at children, and one using complementary colours – its not made from concentrate, so is a higher price. Unusually, they have added a little apple in place of the Tesco letter ‘o’.

And finally the organic one – I love their organic range, the logo with the tree, and every product is illustrated with a loose watercolour.

In conclusion the only unifying feature across the entire range of tesco products is their main “Tesco” logo with the dashes underscoring each letter…except for “Tesco loves Baby”! But you can see the effect of branding within the tesco umbrella – by repeating a particular style across sub groups of products we can start to identify them as a familiar brand. I am guessing they are also keen to give us the feeling that there is plenty of choice within our supermarket, even amongst their own branded products. ‘Redmere Farm’ is presumably invented to make us feel a connection to a particular place , and as the name Tesco doesn’t evoke anything rural itself.

I also did a quick comparison with other supermarkets packaging for organic apple juice…I don’t think you can necessarily identify a common style as such. The co-op uses black in s similar way to Tescos Finest range, Sainsburys ‘So Organic’ and gone for simplicity and elegance, not ‘rustic’. With waitrose, they have used a ‘handwritten’ style script and illustration to identify the product type.

In preparation for this degree, I did a beginners art/graphic design diploma. One of the exercises was to create roughs for three kinds of tomato soup packaging – value, mid range and luxury. It was really fun to do  (if I find it I’ll add it here!) It certainly made me analyse the packaging ‘conventions’ we’re all familiar with.


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