Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer

brand case study

Long live classic label design


Marks & Spencer was the first UK food retailer to successfully exploit the full potential for ‘own brand’ packaging and Nucleus was one of the first design consultancies to work with the M&S internal design team. Between 1982 and 1990, Nucleus designed dozens of ranges covering clothing, food and wine.

One range of wines remains on the shelf and has become a design classic. The White Wines of Burgundy was an idea to bring together a number of well and lesser known white wines, created in 1987 with some of the wines still on the shelves today – almost unheard of in the fast-moving world of own-label.


Our designs were a conscious attempt to combine heritage with contemporary design, hence the use of heraldic devices – quite common in the land of the Dukes of Burgundy – combined in asymmetric layouts with tightly disciplined typography and a distinctive range of fonts for the product names. Yellow capsules added freshness. When merchandised together, the range immediately created shelf impact, achieving excellent standout. The labels sailed through customer focus groups and the whole product range was soon instore. 


Some of this product range remains in use today – some 30 years after launch. In our experience, it is most unusual for own brand packaging designs to achieve such longevity. With the benefit of considerable hindsight, we feel that the design solution tapped into a developing consumer desire for simple, elegant and evocative product labelling. Of course, this trend has accelerated, and has since been adopted by all the major supermarket groups. 

To us, this example clearly illustrates the power and value of classic design.

Our work for M&S continued with other successful own label product lines. We then went on to establish significant relationships with other major food and wine retailers – in the UK market and beyond.