Spanning two days, the Velocity conference hosted retailers, industry veterans, manufacturers, agencies and even ground-breaking leaders from Fair Trade USA. The atmosphere of the event was contagious with camaraderie as attendees took advantage of the numerous networking opportunities to share and learn.

The conference agenda included an engaging mix of topics ranging from work culture to design to tracing the history of Private Brand’s origins. Despite the eclectic nature of the speakers there were in fact several consistent themes throughout the conference:

1. Be Authentic. We heard this echoed through several talks and round tables. It’s no longer relevant to copy what someone else is doing if it doesn’t align with your brand’s story. Successful brands are authentic to their own voice.

2. Keep learning. There is always something to learn from someone—this is important as a new generation of Private Brand professionals continue to emerge in this arena of grocery and retail. There is enormous potential for new and exciting ideas especially in an industry experiencing such a creative renaissance.

3. Alignment. Nicole Lord, Senior Director of Private Brands for Office Depot, drove home the message that for brands to be successful they must 100% align with corporate strategy. It’s not easy but it must be done. At MBD we have a deep understanding of this connectivity and the difference it makes in building strong brands.

4. Be fearless and take risks. This message may have been the most repeated. Don’t be afraid to challenge what’s safe and predictable. Great brands are fearless, and that fearlessness is expressed in fearless design and creativity. In order to move forward be prepared to fight “sameness”.

But MBD didn’t just attend Velocity, our very own president, Maria Dubuc, gave a talk about what she has learned in over three decades of Private Brand development. Additionally, one of our Creative Directors, David Ziegler-Voll, participated in a round-table discussion regarding the future of Private Brand design.

As we continue to design creative packaging for retailers, we are reminded to discover and celebrate a brand’s authentic voice. We must continue to actively pursue learning, and we must continue to be fearless in our quest to build unique, ownable and trusted store brands.

And as Christopher Durham’s private brand manifesto states, “We are not the death of brand. We ARE the brand. Our brand portfolio is our most valuable asset.”