While many Japanese convenience store chains develop and offer private brand products under a unified image, Lawson operates multiple brands according to product type and target customer base: MACHI Café for coffee, Uchi Café for sweets, and NATURAL LAWSON for healthy goods, as well as branded fried chicken and rice balls. Such a system provides customers the joy of selecting from among highly specialized and distinctive brands, as if the convenience store were a shopping mall, but it also impedes the ability to appeal the Lawson brand itself. And so a visual identity system came to be considered, one maintaining the traits of each brand while creating a sense of unity under Lawson.
First, the silhouette from Lawson’s main logo and its L were taken to develop a highly recognizable and serviceable private brand icon, the ‘ L-logo’. It was conceived that, by having the L-logo change into existing brands as if the latter were costumes, a connection could be tied elegantly to the Lawson brand without damaging its former, conventional image. Other private brand products were included in a regular assortment for everyday life and labeled ‘L basic’, taking on the L-logo without modification. Packages are unified—with milk, eggs, bread, and other such foods in beige, and tissues, soap, and household goods in gray—and designed with silhouette illustrations to indicate package contents. Product names are indicated in four languages—Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean—to accommodate overseas visitors. To reduce visual clutter once products enter the customers’ living spaces, prices and product descriptions are written clearly on the store POP displays. Food products outside L basic are branded as ‘L marche’ and placed into 4 categories—frozen foods, snacks, fast foods, and others—with features of each category added to the L-logo. In pursuit of a soft look that also appeals to non-regular female customers, a cozy font and hand-drawn illustrations depicting package contents and ingredients in an easy to understand manner are patterned across packages, rather than favoring large product photography like those covering the old packaging. The designs of Lawson’s nearly 700 private brand products, sold in approximately 14,000 stores nationwide, were systematized in a project undertaken in the hopes of bringing a little joy and comfort to everyday life.