Contact Us
Contact Us

Ep. 4: Display Design Tips with Expert Jackie Berra

Episode 4: Display Design Tips with Expert Jackie Berra


In this episode, hosts Christine Wright and Trevor Lewis interview Jackie Berra, Director of Design Operations at InStore Design Display, to discuss how to nail display design. They explore the challenges of creating unique displays in a market saturated with color blocking and the importance of differentiation. Jackie shares insights into the design process and emphasizes the need for budget alignment and transparency. She also discusses the role of AI in design, including its impact on renderings and efficiencies. The hosts end the episode with personal reflections and reminders.


  • Creating unique displays is a challenge in a market saturated with color blocking.
  • Budget alignment and transparency are crucial for effective display design.
  • AI can enhance the design process by improving renderings and efficiency.
  • Personal reflections and reminders can help navigate challenges and maintain authenticity.


00:00 Introduction to Display Design with Guest Jackie Berra

02:51 Pattern Interrupt No More: Color Blocking

05:03 Brands Getting It Right

08:37 Case Study: Designing Headers for Husqvarna

11:55 Interview with Jackie Berra, Director of Design Operations with InStore Design Display

22:55 Lightening Round

27:37 Personal Reflections and Reminders


Venmo for teens

Green Light card for teens and kids

You Are Enough Co.

InStore Design Display: 12-Point Preparation Check List

Podcast: Accidental Creative with Todd Henry

Podcast: How to Fail with Elizabeth Day


Episode 4: Transcript

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (00:02.702)
Welcome to Blue Light Special, the podcast for CPG brand marketers who want to lighten up their hustle in retail and real life. I'm Christine Wright. And I'm Trevor Lewis. We're here to decode the mysteries of retail and give you some insider hacks to make your brand talk the shelf. Let's get into this week's episode.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (00:29.07)
Welcome everyone. On today's episode, we explore how to nail your display design with tips from Jackie Berra, Director of Design Operations at InStore Design Display. So Trevor, what led to our need for a Design Operations Manager at InStore? Great question. You know, I think whenever we were kind of looking at, you know, the demand of the markets, also looking at how we can continue to add value to our clients,

It was clear we wanted to increase our creative service offerings just to kind of meet that demand, as well as we wanted to really figure out how can we bring in an impact player that can help us accomplish everything that we need from a design standpoint. Because a lot of different environments can produce designs. You have agencies, you have in -house, you have teams like us.

producing creative designs. Unless you are the manufacturer or managing the production, you have a tendency of challenges that can happen. One is you can create these designs, but those designs lack build feasibility. They lacked a lot of just practical understanding of manufacturing. And that was one thing that we wanted to improve on. And so we brought a game changer in. I'm excited to have her join us a little bit after a while to kind of share a little bit more just of her background.

But that was definitely one of the needs that we had and we're confident we got the right person As we jump into our first segment on the show today, which is show and tell My personal experiences in retail there's something I've noticed Which When you're navigating retail like we do and in stores and looking online You notice a bunch of different Uniques per se but one of the

the things that is a bit interesting is just the amount of color blocking. So this has been a known, you know, a lot of brains look at this, whether it's from packaging, whether it's from signage or displays. However, because everyone's kind of jumped on board, it's created this, it's just noise now. I don't know if you've experienced this, but it's definitely something that's quite a bit.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (02:51.182)
you know, no longer unique. And as brands continue to think about how do we differentiate, how do we pattern interrupt that shopper? Because we know that that shopper is probably on their phone or thinking about a bunch of different things. I think we're going to have to go a different direction than color blocking. What are your thoughts? Yeah, it was a good trend when it started. I will say that it did differentiate on shelf, kind of segmented and created what I call a brand surround for that space. But so many people are doing it now. So many brands. It's kind of like.

when you walk into CVS in the vitamin section and there's like 437 yellow flags, buy one, get one free. You differentiate the ones that don't have a flag at that point, whatever's not on promotion. Or I've seen in Walmart, in entire organic section in grocery where there are purple flags down the entire aisle.

Sometimes it's just for organic, you'll see blue flags for EDLP, you'll see red flags for rollback and here and there for brands is great. But down the entire aisle, you're losing that segmentation and that pattern interrupt. You kind of interrupt when they're not there. So you're defeating. Yes, you're defeating the purpose. Yes. Well,

That's definitely you know the trend that we're seeing more hopeful brands will you know start to recognize that it's a brand and retailer shared responsibility, I'd say But you know I think being able to have Jackie on a little bit later on in the show We'll hear a little bit about the design process And I think you'll hear some of the ways that we can kind of understand that upfront and how we can tailor designs to help

create something unique and the keyword there is unique for us. Well we are ready to offer our shout out for the week. We love to acknowledge brands that are getting it right. So Trevor who is on your radar this week? This one's a little bit from left field but I'll have to say that they're getting it right is Venmo. So I think just the ease of you know sharing you know funds.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (05:03.214)
I don't know anyone that is really not utilizing Venmo. That would be my parents in Florida. Yeah. My mother, God lover, will send me a check for my birthday and I don't ever go to the bank anymore. But yeah, they are not adopters of Venmo, but anybody else on the planet probably is. Well, I know that I'm definitely literally today I was sending some funds via Venmo and it's so efficient that I think that they're nailing that part of it. But specifically what I'm alluding to,

is their teen account. So they've created this platform that teens can leverage now and it comes with a physical card. So when you're thinking about, my little one's not quite a teenager, but she's 12, so call it a teenager. You know, we're looking at how can we help teach her responsibility around budgeting? How can we, you know, she's often with her friends or without us and you know, it's just easier for us to upload funds to that account.

And then she gets the cool factor of having her wallet now that now has what she thinks is a debit card. And it functions just like a debit card, both online and in person transactions. So them being able to really kind of hone in on that gen alpha or those that they're starting to, you know, and break on that level of obtaining some new responsibilities, Venmo's lean into it and they've created a real ease of use from the parent side. So.

You know, we can still turn it slide on, slide off to activate it or turn it off. We can load funds on it within seconds. Um, so kudos to Venmo. That's one of my brands that I'm saying they've, they've leaned into. Leaned into it, made it cool for the kids, uh, made it easy for the parents. Well, I will have to jump on that bandwagon. Um, the same type of brand for me is green light. Uh, my kids, uh, they're a little older now. My youngest is 13 and the next one is 17, but a couple of years ago we got Green Light Cards for them. And like you said, it's.

acts just like a debit card, we load funds. It was mainly driven by allowances. So they got certain allowances for the week and those allowances went into buckets of they can spend, they can save, or they have a giving bucket as well. And it would flag me whenever they tried to use their card somewhere so the parent would know. But like you said, when they're out with their friends, I don't really like to send $20 with them or cash with them. I would rather...

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (07:25.902)
know that they have the card and if they need it for food or if they're, you know, a Kansas City Chiefs game and they want to buy a souvenir that they have that access to that and it's a little bit more secure. But because they're driving purchase in so many places now, I think that gives them the flexibility to do that. But parents also can oversee what's going on. Yes. Well, I'm gonna have to check. I don't know that I've seen the green light, but it sounds and they actually put their...

image of the kid on the. Yes, we got to pick whatever photo. So my son has his baseball team photo on there and my daughter had her gymnastics photo on there. Yes. Awesome. Well, that again, I think, you know, in our world, we also try to look at a little small personalization.

And we also look for, you know, efficiencies and convenience and, you know, for all the moms and dads that are out there trying to navigate all of this, you may check out either Greenlight or Venmo. I'm sure there's a multitude of other ones that probably offer similar, but those two receive our shout outs for the week. Definitely. All right. Well, let's go. OJT on the job training. The job training. So for this specific.

segment, I'm going to highlight a project where we worked with Husqvarna. I'm not sure if you recognize that name there. They have a multitude of different products, but they really span into, if you walk into Lowe's Home Depot, you'll see chainsaws, lawnmowers, leaf blowers. And then they also have another heavy constructions division, which they have like large trowels.

A lot of large, you know, more construction equipment that's being used. Conglomerate of a huge company, but trying to deploy merchandising solutions to elevate those brands and various retailers can be certainly a challenge. In this case, what we were doing is we were developing a four foot header, or that was the initial request is, hey, we need a four foot header. They're actually going to be sent out to their dealers. So these are, think about if you needed to rent a piece of equipment, right?

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (09:31.406)
You often don't think about that, but you go into a store. And in this case, we was developing a header solution as a header sign kit that was going to be deployed in there, what they call their dealer network. So not a traditional mass retailer or traditional retailer, like a Home Depot or a Lowe's per se. In this case, it was kind of like more your mom and pops, but they have a number of them. I think we ended up producing around 250 of these headers. But what's interesting is the request, how it came in four foot header.

And our team and our engineers looking at that and saying, Hey, is there an opportunity to reduce the size of this header and maybe down to around 47 inches? And we certainly took that back information, but I, before we took that information back, I just said, why they ask a four foot header. Make a four foot header. Like, well, the yield utilization, if we go to 47 inches is going to improve dramatically. And that's going to lower the overall per unit cost.

And I said, okay, well, tell me more, you know. And so our engineer team kind of laid it out, showed me exactly what the utilization would do. It actually dropped the cost down around 30 % from if we was a true, you know, design and build it at a true 49 inches. So because we work out of parent sheets and think a lot of people realize we're starting with a massive sheet of material and try to yield as many individual units out of that as possible. That is absolutely correct. And so I think that's just some of that on the job training.

that our clients value number one, we can't, you know, in our world, we expect our design engineers to think like that because simply, you know, our clients don't. And so they ultimately need a header to fill the space. That's the project that they need. And I think that they truly valued our ability to look at it from a slightly different perspective. And it was a direct benefit for them. So that's the piece that I thought would be an interesting show and tell, because again, back to the on the job training, it's fascinating how much of that.

takes place. For the first guest on the podcast, we are extremely excited to invite InStore Design Display's, Director of Design Operations, Jackie Berra. Woohoo! She's thrilled too. She brings 20 years of design and operations experience. She's known for her ability to activate spaces for an improved human experience.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (11:55.374)
Since joining InStore Design Display, she has developed some deep insights into how to make displays stand out in-store for brands and adhere to tight budgets and the need for flexibility and modularity. InStore Design Display isn't niched into temporary, semi-permanent or permanent displays. We focus on solving the problem. So being able to design for all display types, which means we need to have an expert design operations guru in -house to make this work for our clients. Welcome.

Jackie sucker. Thanks for being our first guest on the podcast. We appreciate it tremendously. So for our first question, how do you guide clients to make the best decisions about the design of their displays?

So guiding the client starts with layers of information gathering. So we need to understand their needs, their preferences, their objectives, and give them our advice, basically. So we do that a couple different ways. We have a 12 -point checklist that we offer our clients, and it's really a guide on how to get your project started. And it has a list of information just to consider.

Then we dive a little deeper into a creative brief. And that has even more detailed questions regarding budget, regarding what type of display, regarding SKUs, how long it's gonna be in-store. So we're getting all of that information. And then we take that and we do our own research via Google, via Shelfgram, like you talked about last episode. And we really look and see what the competition is doing. And then from there, it's...

communication, communication, communication, more facts gathering, more information gathering until we really feel like we have all of the information to start to put pen to paper. So there's a reason why we pester everyone so much. Yes. There's a method to our madness, but it's very vital that we have as much information as possible upfront. Yep. For sure. And you get all the information every time is what you're saying.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (14:11.95)
Uh, I will leave the fifth on that one. We make a lot of assumptions. All right. And the second question is What were your aha moments as you dug into retail? Logistics, all of the logistics, so many logistics from beginning to end, um, from the design to setting it up in-store.

And then all of the variables and factors that go into that, you have to understand every step of the way. If you're designing, if you're the buyer, if you're the client, there's so much to know. And that's what's great about InStore Design Display is that we have someone like Miss Christine over here that knows her stuff. And that helps us become better designers, but also helps us execute and guide you through.

all of the things that you need to know to get in-store. Absolutely. It's interesting because I give a lot of tours here at our headquarters here in Kansas City to, you know, folks that oftentimes don't even necessarily know what we do. And so whenever we're walking through our showroom and they're like, Oh my gosh, I didn't ever realize this is what you do. But I didn't even think that this was what anybody does. They just kind of thought.

You take it for granted, right? You go into a store, you see a beautiful display, you just think it magically appears there somehow. So Jackie, what do you want shopper marketers to know about the design process?

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (15:48.974)
that it's important to have budget alignment and transparency from the beginning. If we at InStore Design don't understand your budget or don't at least have a range, it makes it really hard for us to start designing and creating because again, it's all those factors and variables that come into play. Is it going to be permanent? Is it going to be semi-permanent? Is it corrugated display? How long does it need to be in-store? All of those things are considered.

when we're designing. So we look at it, like you mentioned earlier, from the end to the beginning, kind of go backwards, right? Reverse engineer. We want to know how it's going to be made so that we can communicate that when we are sharing designs with you. It's not just a pretty picture. We've actually thought about the feasibility piece and that's super important. Yeah. One of my hacks of helping clients can understand the importance of budget, I always actually

blame creative because I'm like, Hey, we've got to give them some guardrails, right? They're creative. They're going to, they want to push the boundaries. That is why they're here is to be able to help differentiate and show your brain in a different perception than maybe what you thought and bring all of this creative horsepower to the table. But we've got to put some parameters around them or what I call guardrails. So I'm often saying, Hey, I don't want to show up. Uh, and our creative team has just did their magic.

But then we're way out in left field because this doesn't make sense from a, you know, a cost standpoint. So I definitely can second the importance of just, you know, understanding and aligning and just open and honest communication around budget and budget expectations. The challenges there's a bunch of various types of projects. And I think the thing that we're always looking at is, you know, longevity of the display, all of these different factors.

And then what needs to be included, what's not included as well. In certain cases, we know we've got to send teams in to install the display as well. Well, that's a lot different of a, you know, a budget requirements on that than if we're just producing a display that, you know, the retail associates come install as well. So, I'm glad you brought that, that comment to the table. I think that it's, you know, certainly important, but again, I probably will just keep leaning on that. Hey, you know, we've got to give these guys some.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (18:10.222)
some guardrails. So I don't waste your time. Sorry, Jackie.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (18:17.614)
All right. Question number four for Ms. Jackie. How is AI playing into design, effect renderings, uh, and efficiencies? I know you're playing with some of this stuff. It's been super cool to watch you navigate. Uh, you're always an early adopter of technology, but, uh, help us kind of understand what you're seeing, um, what some of the resources you're paying attention to.

Yeah, definitely. I mean, Since the onset of AI, I've been geeking out about it. I just think it's so cool at any time you can find efficiencies in design. It's going to be better for you. It's going to be better for your bottom line. And it's going to be better for the client. So I've adapted a program called VizCom, and it's vizcom .ai. And how I use that is I can take a sketch, and whether it's sketched in Photoshop or by hand,

I can take a sketch and write a prompt for Viscom and have it turn it into a 3D white render basically. But then we can go and skin. You can also apply color, you can apply texture. And really it's about understanding the prompts that you're using and how to train AI to give you what you want. So that was kind of, you know, the awe of AI was awesome, but there's a learning curve for both the human and the computer.

And every day it's different and it changes and you could write the same prompts to the two different total AI machines and you might come up with something different. So it's how you use that tool. And really that's that's where AI is coming in big. You can use it for part of the project and then bring it into Photoshop. I use it as a tool set in my in my toolbox of design tools. So.

It's not the, you can't rely on it 100%, but it definitely gets you where you need to go in terms of visualization. You can use it for quick concepting. You can use it to spark ideas. There's just so much there that can be done. I also use Discord and Mid Journey, and those are really fun for conceptual design. They're kind of crazy ideas that you can plug in.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (20:38.446)
but they might spark some really unique design solutions that you might not have thought of. And then another one is Adobe. They're constantly upping their game inside the applications that I use, but as well as webinars. So they're online, they're teaching people how to use the tools inside the program. And that's just only going to get better and better as we move on in time with AI. Awesome. To give it a little context,

Just because I don't know that everyone understands like just how efficient could you maybe articulate a little bit more of what how long it would take to generate a rendering before AI versus some of the times that you're seeing now. Sure. So, you know, traditionally a lot of 3D renders use programs like 3D Max. Those are very robust programs. You're bringing in a lot of.

I would say additional files to get the render that you want. You're bringing in materiality, you're doing stuff with lighting inside these programs. So traditionally it could take five to seven hours for one render, depending on size, how you've skinned it internally. With Viscom, you can basically in 30 seconds have a white body of something.

And then you can take it into a program like Photoshop and skin your graphics. Then you can take it back into Vizcom, add some shadow, add some lighting. And that process is maybe one to two hours. Wow. Wow. See, this is why we on the sales team say yes to everything. Yeah. Yeah. Sure, we have AI. We can do it. It'll be great.

Okay, Jackie. So you are going to be subjected to the lightening round, but that is when we ask all of our guests to participate in. So are you ready? I'm ready. Are you sure you're ready? What's one new brand you recently purchased and why? So I went to Spain earlier this year and bought some, I think it's pronounced, hoca or howca? Hoca, juice.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (22:55.726)
Shoes, yes. And I was a little hesitant, you know, because I see a lot of the old ladies walking around in them. But I do have neat issues just like you. I have, and granted, I'm not young, let's put that out there. But I have plantar faggitis, so I needed some shoes to walk around Spain. And I was, again, hesitant because also the price point is pretty high on the shoes. But I was so glad I got them.

I love the brands, I love that their slogan is everything we do is rooted in optimism. I think that's just a positive statement. And yeah, I always knew that new pair of shoes to get me excited about exercising. And now that spring's here, I'm gonna put those shoes to good use. Good. Okay, what's one thing you've bought on TikTok or Instagram? So I'm not a TikTokker, but I am on Instagram.

And recently, I think it was about two weeks ago, I bought a sweatshirt from a company called You Are Enough Co. And basically the premise around this company is, you know, the founder and the CEO, she lost a friend to mental health issues. And she basically wants to normalize mental health and the conversation around mental health. So I really love the sweatshirt on the front. It says, you are enough. And then on the back,

It says, dear person behind me, you are capable, beautiful, worthy, and more than enough. I hope you know you matter. And this world is lucky to have you with love, the person in front of you. I have that t -shirt and I wore it in Walmart and I had a gentleman come up and give me a hug. Yep. I had, uh, I recently wore it to a brewery and I had a gentleman come tell me and just thank me. Thank me for wearing that sweatshirt. Okay.

What piece of technology can you not live without? Definitely. What? AI. AI. Right. That would have been a great answer. Spotify for me. I'm a music lover. I loved the DJ feature that they had this year. It introduced me to some new artists that I didn't even know about. And I listened to it for podcasts as well. So it kind of curates stuff for you. And I really liked that.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (25:21.326)
And I get to discover new music weekly with Spotify. You're going to have to share your list with us, you know. Yeah, I'll create a podcast or a playlist for us. Yeah. What's the worst career advice you've ever been given? You should go to business school because you'll never make it as a creative.

I think all creatives are probably told they're never going to make it. It's not a career people think you're going to excel greatly in. No, they don't think there's money behind it. They think you're going to be the starving artist on the street trying to sell your stuff. Good for you. Where do you go to consume information to do your job better? LinkedIn is a big one. Obviously podcast, newsletters that I sign up for, webinars.

But a few things that I listen to are the Accidental Creative by Todd Henry and then Elizabeth Day's How to Fail. And it's just it's stories about failure, which, yeah, if you don't fail, you're not growing. Right. So I just I love to hear how people get out of predicaments or problems. And then for AI, it's a lot of newsletters with curated content.

So the neuron, the rundown and superhuman are the three newsletters that are specifically geared towards AI that I get a ton of information from. Good. Okay, last question. What advice would you give your 25 year old self? For me, it's personal, but it's be your authentic self always. It took me a while to be that person in my career. I didn't come out in my first job and that it...

It's out, right? I wasn't able to share who I was with these coworkers. I worked with them for eight years of my life and I decided after that job that I'm not going to do that ever again. And it's, it's been awesome. Good. Good. Good. Well, thank you for sitting on the hot seat for so long. Our first guest. We truly appreciate it. Glad to be here. And yeah, no, we're definitely honored to be able to have you as well. And, uh,

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (27:37.614)
I'm thinking we may get a few more appearances out of Jackie. So thanks again, Jackie, for coming on. Uh, and for our last segment, uh, we want to give you guys a little glimpse into our own minds. Uh, we all have those moments where we reflect, learn, remind ourselves of certain truths. For me, it's memo to myself and for Christine, it's her I am for the day. It's a chance for us to be a bit vulnerable, share our thoughts, and maybe some of it will resonate with you. So for today.

My memo to myself, my drive in was really, um, one of my mentors, I want to say a couple of years ago really said, Trevor, do you want to be loved or do you want to be a leader? Uh, and you know, I, I think all of the personality assessments would say, and even me consciously want to say, Oh, loved. Oh, of course I want to be loved. You know, I'm a.

high "D" and the DISC profile, the Working Genius. I'm a galvanizer like that. That's who I am. Um, however, if you want to be a leader, uh, you need to understand that leading doesn't always come with, uh, everyone loving you. You are not popular. You're not always popular. And so that was just the memo to myself. I'm going to drive in. Um, and I've still,

It's a work in progress, right? You know, like most people I love the recognition of that we're doing the right things or being loved, you know, in that sense. But, you know, oftentimes you're leading through challenges and not everyone is, you know, loving you in that moment. So that was the memo for me. What, Christine, tell me a little bit about your I am for the day. My I am for the day and my I am stem from my group of accountability partners that every morning we text each other and say, what are you just kind of.

Announcing to the day what we are today. And today I'm going to say that I am delirious. Baseball season is starting this weekend. And if I have to drive to Academy sports or Dick's sporting goods one more time to buy pants or belts or socks or long sleeve shirts because it's cold out or I black that's electric orange. I'm going to lose my mind.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (29:58.542)
But I do, or I think we've got it all and we're going to sit out in the cold this weekend and play some baseball. I am delirious. I dig it. And I can probably say that from time to time. That's what I am. You are with some soccer and wrestling, so I will give you that. Well, that's all for this week's episode. Again, we're grateful to have you along for this ride as we lighten up your hustle through retail in real life. Thanks for listening and keep your questions and comments coming.

We love tuning into what you want to know about helping your brand stand out in-store. Join us for next week's episode when we download and debrief Expo West with our next guest, Justin Stevens, who is our retail strategist in the Bentonville Walmart market. This should be a good one. Looking forward to it.

This podcast is a production of InStore Design Display, the go -to expert for guiding and elevating your in-store experience. Our wordsmith, Julie Edge, and mix master, Jackie Berra, make all of this possible. So a big thanks to them and the entire team at InStore Design Display. Stay tuned for our next episode on YouTube or wherever you consume podcasts. We'd love to hear from our listeners, so please drop us a line and tell us what you want to hear about retail and real life.

Subscribe Here

Stay up-to-date on what's happening on our podcast and blog.

Ready to elevate your retail experience?

Contact Us