Two Guys, Lots of Handbags, and the Secret of a Great Brand

"Sometimes the best person to sell your product is the one who knows nothing about your product."

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Take Sondra Roberts New York, for instance.  This 30 year old boutique women's handbag designer recently asked us to help them re-launch their e-commerce website and re-invigorate their brand.  For two guys who've never carried a handbag (well...I can't speak for George), and who are more accustomed to working with technology brands, this might seem like a stretch.  But we confidently took on the project because we knew we could bring something different to it.  And we did...

Rebuilding a 30 Year Old Brand In our case, knowing almost nothing about handbags actually proved an advantage. A fresh eye allowed us to see that every other handbag designer built their brand identity and messaging around product ATTRIBUTES - the quality of the leather and stitching, how trendy and stylish the bags were, the size of their collection, etc.  This made it difficult if not impossible to differentiate between them all in a crowded market.  So, we quickly decided Sondra Roberts needed to build their identity around the EXPERIENCE of holding their bags.

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We spoke to a number of customers and asked them the kind of thought provoking questions that those more familiar with the industry might not have.  Such as, "What's the best story you can tell us of something that happened to you carrying a Sondra Robert's bag?"

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What we found is that Sondra Roberts women feel like they are in on the best kept secret in women's fashion.  They get stopped on the street and asked who makes their un-labeled bags all the time.  And because of the unique quality/value combination Sondra Roberts provides, they can buy collections of handbags - not just one or two - but one for every mood, one for every occasion, one for every woman they want to be.  This led us to a number of original brand themes and eventually the final tagline:

"For Every Me...There is Sondra Roberts"

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From World-Class Showroom to World Wide Web The next step was to bring this brand out from their beloved showrooms and onto the Web.  Sondra Roberts had recently deployed SAP as their ERP system and were using the SAP Business One as their e-commerce front end.  Our challenge was to build a shopping experience that resonated with the "For Every Me" brand and to have it ready for the holiday season just 8 weeks away.

Cognizant of both the power and limitations of the SAP system we designed a series of wireframes that would optimize the shopping experience, allowing shoppers to immerse themselves in the incredible diversity of Sondra Robert's collection while at the same time quickly finding the right bag for their mood and style.

Wanted: Miami-area photographer who can do a photo shoot...today!The final challenge was to get photography for the site that captured the essence of the brand and the experience of holding a Sondra Roberts bag and which would be appropriate for their Spring Collection.  We needed to shoot in Miami for weather conditions - and we needed to do it fast.  Not knowing any photographers in Miami we turned to Twitter, posting a request and getting a referral in just hours to the good folks at Red Square Photography. They did a phenomenal job shooting one of the Sondra Roberts employees as a model in settings that perfectly capture the essence of the brand.

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Live in Time for the Holidays...and Oprah!!! Days before production started we found out one of Sondra Roberts bags would be featured in Oprah's magazine and we needed to have the site ready for that, even before the launch of the holiday shopping season.  Pressure was on.  With all products photographed and loaded into SAP, we applied our designs to the system, tested it all out, and launched days ahead of schedule, still within budget, and in time to get some some serious Oprah buzz!  The result of all this hard work you can see for yourself at http://www.sondraroberts.com.

Next up will be some serious social media promotion to drive traffic and build grass-roots awareness of the brand.  And we plan to do that with the same outside-the-box thinking and creativity that we brought to this part of the project too!

~ JPL

 

Plymouth, MA  -  USA  -  Earth