Notice something different? This newsletter probably looks a bit bare to you. This is not a mistake but intentional, as we have some exciting news to share. Beginning in March, The Wedge will be updating its brand and logo, on everything from the signage in the store to the member newsletter. In light of this change, this newsletter represents a blank state from whence we can tell stories to deepen our roots and connection with our members, community, farmers and producers, and our passionate staff.
You might ask, “Why are we updating the brand and logo? I love the rooster, The Wedge, and I don’t want anything to change.” Brands continually evolve and change to meet the needs of the consumers as well as a changing competitive landscape. In fact, The Wedge has actually changed its logo and brand at least six times since 1974.
With the mainstreaming of organic and local foods, competition now comes in all shapes and sizes. Retailers such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Target, Lunds and Kowalski’s are all touting organic and local products within their stores. This shift in the grocery landscape is beginning to create consumer confusion and an identity crisis within the natural products industry. The Wedge was living this mission long before organic was on the radar or local and natural were business segments, and we need to do a better job telling our story. When you walk in the doors, you don’t always know that we’re more than a grocery store, that we’re also a farm, a distribution warehouse for smallscale farmers, and a school for organic farming. You don’t know that we have supported hundreds of community organizations with donations of more than $600,000. You don’t know that we have the very first organic-certified Meat department in the country or that we’re the second-busiest co-op in America, per square foot. Those are the stories that differentiate us, and rebranding just allows us to take a long hard look at ourselves and tell the world who we really are.
Building a new brand for The Wedge has been an incredible journey inspired by true collaboration from the members, staff, the board of directors and National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA). In the interest of transparency, I want to take the membership through the journey we have been on over the past seven months and inform you of the changes you will begin to see in-store starting in March.
Back in May, a team of co-op general managers and NCGA experts visited The Wedge for a store assessment. NCGA is a business-services cooperative for retail food co-ops that represents 136 food co-ops operating nearly 180 stores in 37 states. NCGA helps unify natural food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere. NCGA reported that we have a great opportunity to better articulate the co-op’s story and make it increasingly visible to shoppers of The Wedge. They expressed that the store needs some color, more visual appeal, and really needs to reflect the strong life force one feels humming throughout the space. They also reported that there is an opportunity to update our in-store aesthetics to create a more meaningful, navigable, and engaging experience for shoppers and members.
After their visit, we knew it was time for us to be refreshed.
In July, in collaboration with the board of directors and staff, we hired Fellow, an outstanding local design agency with offices just four blocks from The Wedge. Over a period of weeks this summer, Fellow presented their design visions to not only the board of directors, but also the staff. Everyone was very grateful to be a part of the process and almost unanimously selected Fellow to be The Wedge’s redesign partner.
These are a few things our staff had to say about Fellow:
“Fellow had the best sense of our identity and our future.”
“I think Fellow understood us the best and would be the most progressive [designer] and push us.”
“Their office is in our neighborhood, and I see them shopping in our store all the time. They really get us and understand how important remaining authentic is to our brand is.”
With Fellow on board, we quickly started a discovery phase with the objective to learn everything we could about ourselves. During this period, we conducted interviews with department leads, staff, and the board of directors to understand key insights, opportunities, challenges, and hidden gems within each department and the organization as a whole.
As we went through the branding process, it was also important for us to include members in the conversation. We conducted focus groups with members to better understand their community, motivations, needs and challenges. Members participated in the three different exercises—answering brand experience questions, creating a Wedge eulogy to illustrate how they would feel if The Wedge didn’t exist anymore (so sad, some people even teared up), and assembling a collage with images and words representing what makes The Wedge special to them.
After all the research was complete, Fellow developed multiple branding and logo options. The staff and board of directors had an opportunity to see the progress of the logos and voted for their favorite direction. At the beginning of December, Fellow and I presented the final brand and logo to the entire staff and received everyone’s enthusiastic support.
With the design elements now complete, you as members will begin to see it come to life in the store and in your mailboxes beginning in March.
So as to not disrupt your shopping experience, we will be slowly rolling out the new look department by department, starting with the front of store, moving to Produce, Grocery, then the Deli and Juice Bar, followed by the Cheese department, then Health and Body Care, Meat and Seafood, the Bakehouse, and finally Merchandise. Our goal is the have the branding and signage complete by the end of summer.
With these changes, we hope to improve our signage, navigation and storytelling to make shopping easier for you. Imagine being able to easily find the supplement you are looking for in the Health and Body Care aisle or finding the perfect cheese without standing in front of the shelves searching for it!
As we go through this process, we promise to remain authentic and true to our roots. We don’t intend to be become flashy or corporate; we just want to make the shopping experience more pleasant for you. We don’t want to be someone else, but rather a stronger Wedge.
We sincerely appreciate and are grateful for your joining us on this journey, your patience as we enact these changes around you, and as always, your membership and dedication to The Wedge.