Branding: The Integrated Shopper
Some niches are tough. But during a recession, the overcrowded home decoration space is brutal. Forget waiting for end-of-season sales; companies are discounting new merchandise. It’s at times like these that your investment in brand differentiation pays off … if you did it correctly.
For this third installment of our review of brand integration, we explored the selling channels of Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Crate & Barrel to see how they’re navigating the recession.
Romantic afternoon light streams through the windows. Your gin and tonic is refreshing and cool in your hand. You hear Daisy’s voice, follow it into the room, but she’s just left. You’re seaside on a working vacation, and above all, you’re in America. Sounds like “The Great Gatsby,” but you’re flipping through a Pottery Barn catalog.
Pottery Barn seamlessly blends its merchandise, photo styling and photography to create a consistent feel of 1920s America. Even products of international design harken back to the styles of imports that were popular during this period. Yet, despite the company’s nod to the past, the brand is modern, high-end and comfortable. A slightly rustic finish to Pottery Barn’s furniture gives a welcome update to traditional American design.
The Pottery Barn brand police can’t consistently replicate Sunday afternoon summer light in a store — at least not in the Leawood, Kan., store we reviewed — but the brand translates well during the in-store experience. The layout of the store is comfortable. The placement of the chairs invites you to sit and relax. The color palette replicates the images of the catalog. Your senses are engaged with an eclectic mix of music that’s both erudite and hip. You feel complimented that it chose something out of the ordinary just for you.
Dissonance begins on Pottery Barn’s website, which comes across as a jumble. The elegance of the catalog and store is lost in cyberspace, which is too bad. The hard work of brand development has been done. Translating it into an interactive online experience should be gravy.