James Brook / Design

The Design of Everyday Value, revisited



I received an email from a graphic design student asking my opinion on why 'why the typography is bland on the value range and why it is like that. And by changing the type to a more elegant look, would it cost more'?

It’s an interesting question and one that I pondered while I was writing about Tesco’s Value range in a previous blog post. Click here for post.

I think that there used to be some economy in printing in one or two colours, hence Tesco’s Value range used to be printed blue and red on white. These days, I think that is as cheap to print two colours as four, and supermarkets have started introducing full colour images of the product to their value lines. However, simple pared-back designs, often in one or two colours (but evidently printed with a four-colour process), continue to signify economy – and have become a shorthand to attract shoppers looking for bargains.

The flipside of supermarket value ranges with their economical design, are the premium ranges and how they are designed and presented: these often have metallic or special colours, embossing, textures and the like to signify luxury, quality and sophistication. Premium ranges often use black as a background, which I find interesting, as white space in other forms of product (think expensive art books, Muji or perfume) is often used to signify luxury, quality and sophistication.

I guess that, value ranges don’t necessarily cost less – or more – to design than premium ranges: I’m sure that the research, development and design is as keen and rigourous for both, and each use complex visual codes to attract their target audience. But given that the margins are higher on premium ranges, while value lines are often sold as loss leaders to draw customers into the supermarket, it's clear that more money is spent on special printing, papers and finishes for premium ranges than value ranges. I think that this extra spending on packaging is where the real cost difference between the design of value and premium lines is found and, perhaps, to some extent, aims to justify the higher cost of a premium product.

As consumers we make choices in supermarkets based on – amongst other things – visual clues. Until we taste it, it’s hard to know whether the coffee in Tesco’s Value range is as good as Tesco’s 'Finest' coffee; but, if we are shopping on a budget, the visual clues of the Value range are a shorthand for economy and guide us to that choice, while, if we are feeling extravagant, the design of the Finest range, with its connotations of luxury and quality, promises us an indulgent treat.

Next of Kin Installation Shots





The exhibition graphics that I designed for Next of Kin, a National Museums Scotland touring exhibition, being installed at Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura, ready for the opening on Wednesday 18 March. The exhibition is open to the public from Saturday 21 March to Saturday 20 June 2015.

Furuholmen Advertisement



Delighted to see the advertisement that I designed for Dovecot Gallery's Magne Furuhomen Peeling a Glass Onion exhibition in the latest issue of The Skinny, March 2015.

Click here to see more of issue 114, the advertisement can be found on page 41.

I have also designed a six-sheet poster which can be found on bus stops around Edinburgh - I must track one down and photograph it!

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