Case Study: Distinctive Forest Creations – Rochester, New Hampshire
Idea Wanted: A brand identity that will build value.
Michelle and Michael Degan are struggling to make a name for themselves in the furniture world. A tough task to be sure. Furniture is a commodity business and most furniture is sold on price. The Degans own and operate Distinctive Forest Creations in the small New England town of Rochester, New Hampshire. In New England, the furniture world is ruled by Bob Kaufman and Bob’s Discount Furniture.
The reason Bob is important in this case study is Bob sets the tone for New England furniture and that tone is price. People buy furniture from Bob’s because he makes it cheap. That flavors the positioning and marketing of all other furniture competitors. Not all stores can compete on price, so the local, independent furniture stores look for other ways to compete. That’s the case for Distinctive Forest Creations.
It’s a daunting task. How do you make a name for yourself in a commodity industry, operating during a recession economy, while competing against an industry leader who can beat you on price? Almost sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Distinctive Forest Creations needs some branding help. But to reach a branding solution, Distinctive Forest Creations had to overcome an obstacle that every entrepreneur has to conquer: product thinking.
The branding process has some basic steps: the first is clarifying a mission; the why and purpose of a business. The next step is creating a vision of that mission completed. Finally a brand promise is made that will carry the business from mission to vision.
Here is the Distinctive Forest Creations brand picture when we started:
Mission: To provide our customers a great value with our lines of furniture and to provide tailored furniture and services to meet their needs, striving for 100% customer satisfaction.
Vision: To be the number one destination point for furniture in the region.
Brand Promise: To provide tailored (customized) furniture and services to meet your needs.
As you can see, this brand picture is framed by the product. But branding is not about what you sell, it’s about the problem you solve. So the real branding question is; what problem does Distinctive Forest Creations solve? And that’s a challenge for entrepreneurs actively running their business. Business owners are bounded by product thinking because it’s what they deal with every day. The product they sell is their life.
Mike Degan left the high-tech world in 2005 and founded Distinctive Forest Creations with his wife Michelle because of passion. He was a craftsman and wanted to make a business out of something re really liked doing. He personally values community and dependability, so he only stocks furniture made in New England.
Distinctive Forest Creations also focuses on unfinished furniture so each piece can be customized to fit the personality of the owner, and the decor of the home. In many cases, Mike Degan instructs customers how to finish the piece themselves. And this is where we get to the heart of the Distinctive Forest Creations brand.
Furniture tells a story about its owner. Furniture from Bob’s Discount Furniture says I’m cheap and part of the crowd. But there’s a different story at Distinctive Forest Creations, and that’s a story of individualism and distinction. Distinctive Forest Creations solves the problem of prestige.
Here’s my recommended brand identity for Distinctive Forest Creations:
Mission: To deliver furniture that tells stories
Vision: Change the perception of New England Furniture
Brand Promise: Provide prestige through furniture.
Your brand is not about your product. Think outside of what your product is, and discover what it does for people. In summary, tell a story with your brand. A story of the problem you solve.
For more on branding your business:
Free Branding Ebook: The Branding Building Checklist
The Marketing Spot 101: Branding
Free Recorded Webinar: Branding U