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GS1 hero image guideline

Mobile Ready Hero Images were first developed and adopted by Unilever in 2014, in collaboration with the Cambridge Engineering Design Centre.

Subsequently, retailers demanded that Mobile Ready Hero Images had to be consistent across images produced by many different suppliers, so during 2017 Unilever and Cambridge worked with GS1 to initiate one of their standards development processes to create guidelines for these new types of images.

Approximately 100 representatives from suppliers, retailers and solution providers joined together to form a working group that met regularly to develop the GS1 Mobile Ready Hero Image Guideline. The working group formally ratified the guidelines in April 2018, and the GS1 guideline was published in August 2018.

The GS1 guideline defines ‘How much of it is there’ (also known as Size) as one of the most important pieces of information that needs to be communicated (Read more). The guideline also presents two alternative methods for communicating size information:

  • Suppliers embed size information as pixels in the image, using a black square in the bottom right-hand corner of the image. This is described as an interim solution in the guidelines, but it is not described in enough detail to ensure that all suppliers present and format this information in a consistent manner.
  • Retailers display size information directly underneath the image, using plain text. This is described as the recommended solution. In this case, there is no need for any guidance on the presentation or formatting of this information, as it will be done in a consistent manner by the retailer.

These Cambridge guidelines aim to provide a clear and structured interpretation of the GS1 guideline. We believe any image that is compliant with our guidelines will also be compliant with the GS1 guideline (apart from the issue of strips, which is discussed below). Furthermore, please note these Cambridge guidelines are not endorsed by GS1 or its membership.

At the time of writing in June 2019, close to zero retailers around the world were displaying size underneath the image. Thus the ‘interim’ solution is the focus point for these Cambridge guidelines, where size is embedded in the image in the bottom right-hand corner.

Further notes on strips

Note that the GS1 guideline explicitly states that strips are not conformant. However, the guideline also acknowledges that the 4W's should pass its visual clarity test, and that for packs that are tall and thin or flat and wide, this is an unsolved issue for which the GS1 guidelines provide no viable solution.

Our view is that, for packs that are tall and thin or flat and wide, using a strip is better than forcing shoppers to rely on reading the product title. Therefore, these guidelines state that a strip may be used, 'if and only if' there is no other viable way of communicating the 4Ws within the image tile in a manner that passes the visual clarity test. Furthermore, if a strip is used, a duplicate version of the image should be created that omits the strip, so that a version that’s conformant with the GS1 guideline is always available, and retailers can choose the version that works best for their platform.

The GS1 guideline for Mobile Ready Hero Images was published in August 2018.

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