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The Largest, Fastest Private Brands Re-Stage in North America

In 2005, Safeway Inc., North America’s #2 supermarket chain, announced a $100 million re-positioning initiative called ‘Ingredients for Life.’ Safeway wanted to completely overhaul their private brands portfolio: 4,500 U.S. SKUs, and 3,000 Canadian.  And, as quickly as possible.

The resulting program was breakthrough in scope, approach and deployment - it represents $6.8 billion of Safeway’s $40 billion in total annual sales.  It took 30 months and was the largest, fastest retail private brands re-stage of its kind in North America.

To accomplish this, Anthem was selected to create the brand strategy and design and Schawk was selected to manage the premedia process through print management. To manage the enormous number of design and production files that had to efficiently flow through process, Schawk deployed its BLUE™ technology workflow solution.

Anthem first created a comprehensive consumer brands methodology and a brand rationalization strategy to reduce a portfolio of 70 disparate brands to 10 cross-category “Power Brands.” A portfolio architecture was created along with brand programs for each including consumer insights, new positioning, identity design, packaging system design, brand communication and retail expression.

Simultaneously, Schawk began working directly with over 600 product suppliers and another 600 printers, consolidating and centralizing the premedia file production function, previously provided by these suppliers and printers.  As part of this effort, outdated analog workflows were replaced with technology-supported “best practices” workflows.

At the end, Private Label Magazine selected Safeway as their “2007 Store Brand Retailer of the Year.”


  • Safeway was named 2007 Store Brand Retailer of the Year (Private Label Magazine)
  • Safeway was named 2011 Retailer Innovator of the Year (Store Brand Decisions)
  • In PL Buyer (Jan 2012) Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert said, “Safeway has done it really well. It’s been smart, it’s won awards, it’s won taste awards, it hasn’t just slapped a label on the leading products that everyone else makes. [Safeway has] done a great job on recipes, packaging; you don’t think of it as a private label, you really think of it as a great alternative.”
  • PL Buyer estimated Safeway’s private label sales penetration at 26 percent of dollar sales, or roughly $10.6 billion in 2010.
  • 2 Graphic Design Annual Awards for Safeway’s 75 South Whiskey Brand (2006, 2007)
  • Safeway’s Fruit Flavored Sodas won 7 design awards in 2007 (365: AIGA Annual Design Award, Communication Arts Design Annual Award of Excellence, Pentawards Bronze, Creativity Award Silver, Print Magazine Winner, Private Label Buyer Award, ID Magazine Annual Design Review)

Ongoing Collaboration

  • 2500 SKUs per year that SGK continues to guide through the design, redesign and printing process.
  • Six Sigma Black Belt Continuous Improvement initiatives including multi-discipline Kaizen events
  • Anthem’s work on The Snack Artist brand continues to win design and packaging awards (2013 Store Brands Packaging Award Bronze, 2012 Print Regional Design Annual Award, 2011 Pentawards Silver, 2011 Communication Arts Design Annual Award of Excellence)