Branding: The Integrated Shopper
The recent introduction of its artisanal furniture line is a bold step to differentiate the company from the mass-produced, play-it-safe feel of Pottery Barn and the stately elegance of its own recent attempts. The line has received positive press, although it’s unclear just how the market has reacted.
Restoration Hardware continues to differentiate itself in bathroom accessories and, ironically, textiles, which is diametrically opposite of its start in hardware.
We do wish the company’s graphic designers would acknowledge that type is to be read. In the opening spread of the Early Spring 2009 catalog, they reverse and center an upper and lower capitalized serif font over a busy picture and run the type across the fold so the sentences don’t align. By our count, six typographic rules were violated.
Though the execution may be imperfect, the elements of brand identity — logo, fonts, color palette and visual imagery — are consistently presented. We give Restoration Hardware’s integrated branding efforts a B-.
Crate & Barrel
When we research these articles, we study a variety of sources, including anonymous employee submissions to job-site blogs that give frustrated workers a place to vent. You expect trash talk.
That said, Crate & Barrel is the only brand in this article that received lots of positive comments. Most complaints were the result of just working retail, and employees were careful to differentiate between the two. That says a lot about the atmosphere.
Another subtle indicator is the exterior of Crate & Barrel stores. The stand-alone store in Leawood, Kan., for example, features prairiesque architecture landscaped with native grasses. It visually commands one of the most lucrative retail intersections in the state. This isn’t an accident. The website of Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, which designed the store, explains, “Every store landscape is different, yet every one creates a second glance that supports Crate & Barrel’s brand identity as the best place for home design.”