The Private Label Manifesto

Private Label is so much more than a name, it’s a mindset.

We are strong advocates for the idea that any creative person must be open to receiving inspiration from all forms of art or visual craft; because of this, it should be no surprise that our brand concepts are rooted in many forms of design.

In it’s simplest definition, private label is a custom brand designed to target a specified demographic. When we create a private label for our clients, we are doing just that. We constantly find ourselves saying “it’s all about you” and we can’t help but mean it down to our very core. Each project we focus on is approached in a completely different way. It’s not about us, our “style” or our specific needs, it’s about you, our client, our target demographic. No 2 projects are alike, they are all truly custom. They are strategically branded interiors.

A more known term in the design industry is “boutique” in regards to a hotel, restaurant, or store, to name a few. A boutique space is one that incorporates lifestyle, indigenous elements, specialty services, and is considered a unique “experience”, not just a space. Especially in regards to hotels, there has a been a large shift from the corporate hotel to a more meaningful travel experience. From Design Hotels Yearbook 2008, “Mankind with be more sensible and sensitive about its surroundings in the next 15 years. Respect, tolerance, and solidarity will influence the way objects, spaces and technology are designed.” Largely due to this type of mentality, corporate hotels want to be in line with this mindset. Ian Schrager specifically said in an article with Men’s Vogue that he was partnering with Marriott to create a “private label” hotel brand for their very corporate rooted name. Putting boutique on a large platform isn’t changing it’s ideals, its only adding to the quantity of opportunities to create unique spaces. This was one thing Schrager found so enticing about the pairing with Marriott.

Another example, and one we found even more refreshing (atypical) is McDonald’s launch of their “Less is More” design strategy. They partnered with French designer Philippe Avanzi (in collaboration with Studio Archange) to give their spaces a more contemporary look. The designers supplied McDonald’s with 8 different design schemes for franchisees to choose from. The purpose of having several different schemes we feel is the future of franchising, locations that are consistent in service and recognition but do not “all look the same.” They are using architecture as a business plan. The goal was not to just create a more contemporary look, but more upscale, and less “fast food.” They wanted to appeal to an audience that would typically not eat fast food while also continuing to cater to an ever evolving current loyal fan base. The roll out started in Europe and is intended to make it’s way to the US, although some franchise owners have already followed suit in other locations.

The notion of Private Label is the way we approach all projects no matter the scope of the contract.  We feel strongly that it is our fiduciary duty to our clients that all design solutions follow our Private Label core design values.   

Our 3 core Private Label values are:

1) Stay true to the values of the brand – Not only our brand, but our client’s brand. We support and respect the importance of a brand and the necessity to be crystal clear in the execution and overall perception.
2) Always consider and be driven by what is meaningful to the consumer – Many of our colleagues focus on their client, but not always the end user. We find it is so necessary to focus on both. Our clients’ are motivated by their clients’ and so are we. 

3) Constantly create differentiation from the competition – how are we different? how can we in turn make our clients different? We constantly analyze the marketplace to see how it’s evolving and making sure we’re at least one step ahead. One main thing that allows us to do this with depth and efficiency is our large network of creative professionals. 

We have summarized our business strategy as the term the “studio effect.” The definition includes our core values and core motivation. It is the act of going back to ones roots of creativity and innovation without the physical or emotional constraints of traditional business practices; fueling a new way of thinking by utilizing all forms of creative inspiration.

The result: A project that enriches our client’s bottom line, raises brand visibility, grows market share and maintains high visibility in the marketplace.

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