Case Study: Jamestown Designer Kitchens – Savannah, Georgia
Idea Wanted: A brand that will take the business to the next level.
Think for a moment. Given the depth of knowledge you have about your business, how do you communicate a simple business concept to customers who don’t have your knowledge? You could try to explain the workmanship that goes in to every job you do. Or you could say your unique knowledge equals top-notch quality. And you will fail. Because you have the curse of knowledge. You simply cannot communicate with a customer in their language. And that’s why you need a brand identity. Your brand is the one simple concept that communicates your promise to customers in a way they can understand.
Chrissy and Matt Kernodle opened Jamestown Designer Kitchens two years ago. Through hard work they have inspired enough word-of-mouth to build a business that survives. They make a decent living, but they want more. Few entrepreneurs start a business with the intention of making a decent living. That’s not a good return on the invested blood, sweat and tears. No, Chrissy and Matt’s vision is for Jamestown Designer Kitchens to become a destination company: One sought out by homeowners throughout the region.
|James Designer Kitchens, Savannah, GA|
|Owners: Matt & Chrissy Kernodle|
The primary goal of building a brand is to arrive at a brand promise that communicates a unique brand identity to customers. Jamestown Designer Kitchens has a loose brand promise of "We will do what we say we’re going to do." That’s a promise based on follow-through. That’s also a brand promise with a problem because it doesn’t have any value. Follow-through, like honesty and quality, is something customers already expect when they do business with you. That’s where Chrissy and Matt started, let’s see where we ended up.
Building a Brand: Start With Your Values
The best way to start building your brand is by going back to your foundational values. You have to deconstruct all that knowledge you’ve acquired while building your business. Identify the top three values by which you run your business. When you make decisions to run your business, what values do you call upon at the moment of truth? Chrissy and Matt identified their top three values as:
- Being Personal – Working with customers on a personal level.
- Flexibility – Let customers put their personal touch on the kitchen.
- Creativity – Innovatively work around challenges.
As you will see when we finish this process, the brand is already taking shape. With values in place, it is time to define a mission: Why does the business exist?
In the kitchen remodeling industry, there is not a lot of repeat business. Most homeowners only remodel a kitchen once. How does Jamestown become the "once-in-a-lifetime" company to homeowners? The answer was found in Chrissy and Matt’s mission:
"To design and build kitchens that inspire loyalty."
Wow. If you’re mission is to inspire loyalty, you had better deliver something special. Loyalty is an emotion stoked by a relationship and personal involvement. With a mission in place, and a vision of where Jamestown will go, it’s time to make a promise.
Making a Brand Promise
Now comes the difficult part, the brand promise. It’s difficult because businesses want to try to be everything to everybody and in the process end up being nothing to nobody. A brand promise is what you promise to deliver beyond the product or service you sell. So Jamestown Designer Kitchens could not promise "The Finest Custom Kitchens." It had to be something more.
The first ideas were quickly shot down.
- We make kitchens that are better than the magazines.
- We pull your dream kitchen together.
- We’ll be pickier than you are.
During our brainstorming, Chrissy said that every single customer has at least one, major, out-of the ordinary thing they want to do to their kitchen. It’s up to Jamestown to make sure that kitchen fits perfectly for the customer. They were committed to their values of flexibility and creativity to deliver the customer’s unique request so that that each kitchen was a perfect fit. And thus we had the Jamestown Designer Kitchens brand promise:
"A kitchen perfectly fit to each customer’s unique requests."
Wait a minute, isn’t that promise about the product? No, it’s about the customer. Specifically, the one thing the customer wants to do that makes their kitchen different from any other. Jamestown Designer Kitchens will call this the "Perfect Fit Factor."
At that moment, the clouds lifted for Chrissy and Matt and a brand picture took shape. They will now create their own Perfect-Fit-Process. The use of a metaphor of a custom-tailor created more ideas for the brand: A perfect-fit worksheet, identifying the basic kitchen "body shapes."
Communicating Your Brand
That left one final piece of the brand identity puzzle to complete: the signature (what most businesses call a tagline). A tagline is the best brand communication tool. It communicates your brand promise is a short, unexpected, memorable way. While they haven’t finalized their signature yet, Chrissy and Matt are considering the following for Jamestown Designer Kitchens:
"Kitchens Cut to Fit"
"Kitchens Perfectly Fit"
"Kitchens Tailored to Fit"
Compare these signatures with the "Custom Cabinetry & Remodeling" currently painted above the Jamestown storefront.
The Jamestown Designer Kitchens Brand Identity:
Mission: To design and build kitchens that inspire loyalty.
Vision: To Build A Kitchen Design business that attracts customers from the entire Low Country
Brand Promise: A kitchen perfectly fit to each customer.
Signature: Kitchens Cut to Fit
At the conclusion of this project, Chrissy told me, "We know what we do, we know how to do it well. we just didn’t know how to say it." If you’re facing this challenge, start by forgetting all your industry knowledge and return to your values. I have two tutorials to help you: The Brand Promise and Your Signature. Please use them to form a brand identity that simply communicates one idea, your brand promise, to the customer.