Staples Visual Brand Language

Creating the First Ever Brand Language Guidelines for Staples Brand Products


Staples Visual Brand language was created with the goal of unifying the extremely diverse product assortment of Staples Brand products. A large team of internal and external designers along with key business stakeholders participated in a 6 month long design standards creation process.

Role: Design Manager, Design Strategist


The brand language has been applied to over 500 products planned for launch in 2018. It has influenced a revitalization of the existing brand strategy and is being used as a launch pad for a new marketing strategy.


Staples Brand Products are visually and experientially inconsistent. In order to create a more cohesive customer experience, we worked to create the first ever product design guidelines grounded in the business and brand strategy.


Creating the Standards

Staples Brand Group was originally created to fulfill a “compare and save” market opportunity at Staples retail stores. As the company diversified its business offerings, product assortments expanded to meet the diverse needs of retail, contract, and online channels. This was the first time Staples Brand products have ever been unified under any consistent design language.  The language had to be applicable to an extremely diverse product assortment from a tiny thumbtack used in a home office to facilities maintenance supplies intended for commercial use.

Design Strategy

With this initial foray into design standardization, structures had to be created to ensure the organization of complex projects and direct the implementation efforts of the many people working on them. We defined the types of projects that we do and how they fit into the standard operating procedure of the company’s product development process.  We created systems to measure the impact of design on the organization and used these tools as leverage going forward.

Organizational Activation

There is a massive challenge created when trying to integrate a design centric philosophy into an organization with no history of design excellence. An important portion of this project was teaching the organization what design is and how it can help them to achieve their business goals. A year long design activation plan was devised and put in place to continually explain, reinforce, and celebrate the presence of design.


Upon the completion of the design standards, categories began to be converted as assortment wide redesign projects. Large assortments averaging 50 SKUs or more have been reorganized, redesigned, and rebranded to fit into the new language.