Lowe’s Orchard Supply Hardware refreshes brand to drive better customer engagement

Oct. 26, 2017 | by Judy Mottl

Photo courtesy of Orchard Supply Hardware.

Where are you when you're all done checking out and paying for home repair and supply items and the cashier offers up a bright green apple for the trip home?

Well, you're not in Kansas or Home Depot or Lowe's — at least not the latter's brand name storefront.

You are at an Orchard Supply Hardware store (a brand acquired by Lowe's in 2013 and run independent) in either California, Oregon or Florida. The thank-you fruit is just one small piece of the retailer's comprehensive brand revamp taking place at its 80-plus stores that serve up 45,000 items.

The retailer, which launched in 1931 touting the philosophy of "take good care of our customers and they will take care of you," is engaging with longtime and new customers and driving shopper loyalty with a brand refresh built on a creative platform developed by Persuasion Arts & Sciences.

It began in early 2016, with a soft launch taking place in late 2016 as the retailer opened eight Florida stores and the refresh went official as of January 2017. The retailer then began refreshing Oregon locations in May 2017 and is now doing the same with its California legacy stores.

A new brand platform is born

The platform is called "Home, Hardware & Happiness." And yes, it's simple and aligns with the brand's initial philosophy, said R. Josh Whitton, Orchard Supply Hardware's chief marketing officer.

The messaging also reflects Whitton's top advice to retailers launching a brand revamp.

"Simplicity is key. Don't abandon your brand's essence in hopes of attracting new customers. If you aren't sincere, your customers will notice immediately," he told Retail Customer Experience in an email interview.

Yet, while the message may be simple, the brand overhaul has been extensive– from new ad and marketing campaigns boasting catchy slogans to a new communications architecture and plan to a new website, in-store signage, and email and direct mail strategies.

There's even a brand new branded truck that's now out delivering trees to customers and helping clean up parks when not in delivery service.

Persuasion has redesigned store circulars to focus more on neighborhood specific guides to home enjoyment, rather than product and price, which also offer up local products and staff product picks.

Brand revamp and its role in expansion

The brand platform effort played a critical role in jump starting Orchard Supply Hardware's arrival in the Florida market as moving into a new region always presents marketing challenges. In Orchard's situation it was about turning an unknow newcomer into a welcomed, popular neighbor, explained Dion Hughes, Persuasion Arts & Sciences founder.

"We needed to demonstrate an understanding of Floridians' unique home improvement motivations and behaviors and share a locally relevant point of view," Hughes told Retail Customer Experience in an email interview.

"Our communications plan was built with this in mind. The specific elements that worked hard for us were interactive, intimate and grass roots (vs. one-way, mass channels)," said Hughes. "While we did use highly geo-targeted paid media, we placed special emphasis on earned and owned media channels like local news sources, social media, and neighborhood-level events, festivals and markets. And our grand opening events were styled more as housewarming parties, inviting our neighbors to join us," he shared.

"Since social media was central to building community with our neighbors, Facebook became our online hub for all communications. We also invited customers to share their email so we could keep in touch; our commitment was to only show up in their inboxes with something helpful, much like a neighbor would," added Hughes.

Moving forward on sure footing

Persuasion plays 'the' partner role in bring brand strategy to life in a way that meshed with the brand's essence and value, said Whitton.

"We were not disappointed and have taken much of their work from a market pilot to the full chain," said Whitton, describing the brand positioning has been "invaluable" as it lets the retailer tell the Orchard story in a compelling and differentiated way.

"Their work allowed us to stand out in markets we were entering while also helping us set our go-forward strategy in existing markets," he said.

Orchard Hardware Supply's success is tied a range of factors, noted Hughes, as the retailer understands how and why communications and branding need to match up with the retail experience.

"All it takes is one bad store experience to negate a customer's high expectations developed by good communications," he said, adding, "The more disconnects there are between the promise and the experience, the less customers will trust your brand. Consistency of experience with the promise, and then consistency across the board, are essential to a well-rounded, attractive and successful retail brand."

Retailers also need to start with a clear premise, quickly test small scale solutions and learn and then move forward. "When the retailer sits still. Customers evolve, their preferences evolve, and retail needs to flex and evolve with them," Hughes said.

Going forward Orchard Supply Hardwaer will use its new platform as a foundation to build experiences for customers with its customers.

"They [Persuasion] helped us articulate why we're here for our customers," said Whitton.


Topics: Assisted Selling, CRM, Customer Experience, Customer Service, Digital Merchandising, Marketing, Merchandising, Retail - Home Center, Shopper Marketing, Signage, Social Media, Specialty Stores

Companies: Lowe's



Judy Mottl

Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

wwwView Judy Mottl's profile on LinkedIn

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