Heinen’s Branded Environment

Case Study

Branded Environment, Sign System

Heinen’s is a third-generation local, family-owned grocery retailer based in Cleveland, Ohio, that has expanded to locations throughout Northeast Ohio and Greater Chicago. Heinen’s focus on the their loyal customers and associates who engage with guests create a shopping experience where people feel better after leaving Heinen’s and trust their quality products. Heinen’s is not just a grocery store—it’s a retailer that satisfies consumers’ desire for locally sourced, thoughtfully selected products that are supported by a knowledgeable, committed service approach.


Heinen’s wanted to better communicate its “star” departments and distinguish itself from other retailers by developing a décor and signage that connects guests with the brand. Heinen’s rich history begins in 1929 with a butcher shop on Cleveland’s east side, run by Joe Heinen. The friendly, family service and knowledge of quality products has persisted through generations and extraordinary expansion throughout Ohio and into Illinois.

With marketplace competition on the rise (wholesalers, retailers, box stores, online shopping), Heinen’s recognized a need to differentiate the brand and share their story to help create an experience that showcase Heinen’s value. Guide Studio partnered with Heinen’s through architect Process Creative to create a complete signage program that conveys the company’s “We Care” philosophy.

“Our relationship with Guide Studio began over 12 years ago, when Heinen’s realized we had an opportunity to create a consistent ‘look and feel’ for our stores that would be aligned with our brand and have our legacy stories come alive.”

Kathryn Falls,Marketing, Heinen’s


  • Design decisions were based on how Heinen’s wanted their brand to be received: a comfortable shopping experience where people feel better leaving than when they came – and that the food they bring home is quality and sourced with care.
  • A warm color palette was selected and signage was positioned to bring messaging closer to shoppers for a more intimate, storytelling experience.
  • Patterns selected depict variations on kitchen tablecloths, a nod to pulling up a chair at the family table at Heinen’s.
  • Storytelling signage includes meaningful messaging that was developed for each specialty department. The signage program supports Heinen’s We Care philosophy and tells how the retailer is thoughtful about its product selection and sourcing. It also connects consumers with the products, and opens up doors for conversation when associates engage with guests.
  • To further educate and connect with shoppers, Guide Studio worked with Heinen’s marketing to produce information pieces to showcase programs they offer. Those include the 21-Day Fresh Start whole foods eating program, and Store Tours, where a wellness associate shows a guest around the store and how to make healthy and informed food choices.

“Similar to Heinen’s, Guide Studio focuses on establishing a great customer experience that is warm and welcoming. They consistently bring positive energy, creativity and enthusiasm to every project, along with an in-depth appreciation and understanding of Heinen’s brand, our customers and our need to be relevant to our loyal customers.”

Kathryn Falls,Marketing, Heinen’s

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