Don Watt (designer)


Don Watt (designer)

Don Watt (1936 - 23 Dec. 2009) created the Watt group, a world renowned, award winning retail branding and design consultancy. The company was a trailblazer in retailing, and among the first agencies to envision a system of branding that unified the entire shopping experience. Don Watt, Richard Huczek, Gerry Pencer, Dave Nichol, Ira Teich, Ted Zittell, and other key players in the Watt Group over the years are credited with introducing premium private label brand design to the North American Market. Some of the more recognized brand designs include Home Depot’s iconic orange logo[1] and innovative store concept, Sam's Choice, no name and President's Choice. Don Watt was the first designer to use photosymbolism on packaging, for Nestle Instant Coffee.[2]

Early life

Don Watt was born in Regina, Saskatchewan. His father worked in the military and his mother would often paint pictures while his father was on duty, this inspired Don early on to pursue a career as an animator. Don graduated from the Ontario College of Art for industrial design.

Career

Don Watt’s first job after graduation was for A.V. Roe, working on the design for the Avro Arrow and the “flying saucer”--a special project for the U.S. Army. Don went on to work for Warner Brothers in California, doing animation for Bugs Bunny, but then soon moved onto package design.

After working as a creative director for a design agency, Don Watt founded Don Watt and Associates in 1966. Soon after, the firm landed the account for redesigning the Nestle brand in Canada.

During the early inception of the firm Don worked on the design of the Canadian Pavilion at Expo 67.

In 1973, Don Watt was hired by Galen Weston, to help resuscitate the Loblaws brand. Don Watt designed the brand, stores, packaging for “no name” generic products, “President's Choice” premium products, “Too Good to be True” nutritious healthy products and “Green” for environmentally friendly products.

Soon after the product launches, Watt suggested that current spokesperson William Shatner be replaced by Loblaws president Dave Nichol, after Bill’s availability became limited by his involvement in a new series The enhanced store flyer featuring Nichol’s product picks, The Insider Report, soon followed.

1987, The Watt Group was recognized by the Harvard Business School for developing solutions to classic profit-improvement problems, using strategic design to effect change in consumer response.

1992- Don Watt sold a somewhat ailing Watt Group to beverage maker Cott Corporation, to apply premium retail branding opportunities to retailers across North America, Europe and Australia.

1992 to 1999- The Watt Group flourished with the association of the billion dollar company, Cott Corporation. Cott CEO and major shareholder, Jerry Pencer attracted a winning team to re-energize The Watt Group. Gary Oakley, award winning creative head; David Boyd, production guru, Richard Garvin, retail store designer, Patrick Rodmell, business development expert, and Ted Zittell, retail strategist. To lead this team. he engaged Ira Teich - formerly a senior strategy and marketing partner in a leading North American consulting form, Paradigm - as CEO and Managing Director of the Watt Group. The Watt Group grew rapidly and profitably under this format until the death of Cott's founder and chief shareholder, Jerry Pencer in 1999.

1999- With the help of Envoy Communications, Don Watt bought back the Watt Group, renamed as Watt International - Envoy and Watt were unable to recapture the Watt Group successes gained during the period under Cott Corp's ownership.

2003- Don Watt, along with long time business partner Geoff Belchetz, founded DW+Partners, a consulting firm specializing in retail branding and design. DW+Partners was able to take with them from the Watt Group, retail giant Wal-Mart, in the U.S., to re-design their “Great Value” line.

2005- Don Watt developed the Super C brand and store design, in Quebec, for the Metro Group, and in 2007/2008 developed their “Irresistibles” premium packaging line.

2006- Don Watt was inducted into Canada’s Marketing Hall of Legends under the category of Enablers–representing those who provide excellent brand-building expertise.[3]

2008- Don Watt updated the “Food Basics” brand and store design in Ontario, after Metro Group acquired the Dominion and A&P business and creates a new “Metro” brand identity for the corporation.

2008- Don Watt applies the Metro brand to Ontario stores, replacing the previous banners.

2008- Don Watt inducted into the Private Label Hall of Fame.[4]

Don Watt sat on the board of Aastra Technologies, Menu Foods, Pet Health, Cosmetic Essence, and Immunotec Research. Don Watt was a regular contributor to Private Label Magazine.[5]

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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