After decades of success building strong values and a solid customer base, “established” companies are forsaking the “tried-and-true” in favor of bold new initiatives that appeal their next generation of clients. Four brands (Laura Ashley, Ethan Allen, Kindel and Avery Boardman) have turned a new leaf this past year either by partnering with a designer or magazine, giving the showroom(s) a facelift, or launching a new website. Read on for a breakdown of what these companies have done in an effort to revitalize their brands.
Kristin Jackson's design for Laura Ashley and Domino magazine
Company: Laura Ashley
Years in business: 61
Refresh initiative: In hopes of going beyond print readers and tapping a younger, more affluent audience on the web, Laura Ashley and Domino magazine commissioned interior designers Kristin Jackson, Traci Zeller, and Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke of MadCap Cottage to interpret the brand’s designs from their own perspective into their own homes.
According to a Laura Ashley representative, the Domino format is design focused and shopper friendly. From research initiatives, they’ve learned that their customers crave inspiration, and their shopping habits prove they buy what they see and they want it all.
The very first designer reveal was from Jackson, who grew up surrounded by Laura Ashley wares. She injected a mix of both classic and contemporary Laura Ashley furnishings into her new breakfast nook. As Jackson and Domino shared the “before and after” across social media, the brand saw an immediate uptick in followers and engagement. Zeller, Nixon and Loecke’s spaces incorporating Laura Ashley products will be revealed in the coming months on Domino.com.
Ethan Allen Design Center
Company: Ethan Allen
Years in business: 82
Refresh initiative: The company will present a new look this fall as it introduces hundreds of new furniture designs and renovates many of its Design Centers. Designers can expect a more casual and colorful environment where products are displayed in small "style stories" rather than formal, fully designed room settings.
According to an Ethan Allen representative, one of the ways the brand is communicating with a younger audience is through social media. With a strong presence on every relevant platform, it's allowing for a two-way dialogue.
Over the years, the biggest change for Ethan Allen has been in its style of products. There was a time when Ethan Allen was known for colonial, Early American style. Today it’s very eclectic and multi-dimensional to address how people are living. Some product is traditional, but much of it is contemporary, and all of it is relaxed, which is what designers can expect to see across the Ethan Allen Design Centers this fall.
Company: Kindel Furniture
Years in business: 113
Refresh initiative: The company enlisted interior designer Eric Cohler to give its New York showroom an updated look and help with overall visual merchandising and branding.
According to a Kindel representative, this is an exercise for Kindel to expand its visual branding, and its primary goal is the New York showroom. Cohler will give a new visual look, which will translate to new images on the website and create a refreshed look for the brand overall. The idea is to use the same Kindel furniture but with different finishes, paint colors etc.
Kindel hopes to achieve Cohler’s look—a mix of classic with modern—for its showroom. In addition, Cohler is a Kindel shopper, and he knows the brand. The new showroom is set to be revealed for What’s New, What’s Next at the New York Design Center in September.
Avery Boardman showroom in the Decoration & Design Building
Company: Avery Boardman
Years in business: 46
Refresh initiative: Avery Boardman hired Jennifer Beek and Georgie Hambright of J+G Design to refresh its showroom in the Decoration & Design Building. The design duo was given very few parameters and simply told to “show them something new.”
“Here's this venerable brand that desperately needs a bit of fluffing up and the infusion of a young voice. J+G Design was a Botox injection!” said Avery Boardman President Dennis Scully.
J+G understood the tradition and the art of upholstery and yet brought their own distinct and youthful sensibility to it. According to Scully, the response to the new space has been staggering. People are thrilled to see the showroom get a bit of attention, and Avery Boardman is humbled by the support it’s received in the design community.