I would never admit it publicly–like in a blog or something–but my wife Mary has introduced me to many interesting things over the years that I would likely never have discovered on my own. These include various foods, restaurants, books and retail establishments, some of which I end up liking at least as much as she does. A great example of this is Jonathan Adler, a one-of-a-kind retailer of pottery, furniture, rugs, lamps, art, candles and other household items. While not everything they carry is a match for my personal tastes (which is a good thing for them, BTW), I could not be more impressed with the job they’ve done creating and maintaining their branding.
Have you ever noticed how often the most successful companies are a manifestation of their founder’s personality and vision? Just as Steve Jobs is Apple, Richard Branson is Virgin Atlantic, Jeff Bezos is Amazon and Howard Schultz is Starbucks, Jonathan Adler is, well, Jonathan Adler. And Jonathan is not only a very talented designer and retailer, he is a brilliant marketer. Everything his company does–from the products they design or carry to the layout of their stores to the design of their website–exudes the same sense of style, cleverness, personality and, most of all, fun. This is a company that knows exactly what it is, and what it isn’t.
So how do they maintain this impressive consistency? Do they have a sophisticated Vision Statement or Mission Statement or both? Actually, they have something much better: a Manifesto. It’s the first page after their home page on their website, and it’s showcased on a large sign in all of their stores. And it does more to capture the essence of their company, their brand, than any Vision Statement or Mission Statement I’ve ever read.
The opening line of the Manifesto is, appropriately, the simplest and most powerful: “We believe your home should make you happy.” But the second line adds a little flavor to give you an even better sense of the uniqueness of this brand: “We believe that when it comes to decorating, the wife is always right. Unless the husband is gay.” The rest of this wonderfully-crafted document contains several other gems, including “We believe our lamps will make you look younger and thinner,” “We believe colors can’t clash” and “We believe our designs are award winning even though they’ve never actually won any.”
I love the fact that they share their Manifesto so transparently with customers–and prospective customers. I suspect that anyone reading it for the first time in one of their 12 stores will have one of two possible reactions: either “Uh, I think I’d better leave now,” or “I LOVE this place!!!” Which is to say that Jonathan Adler isn’t for everyone; it isn’t intended to be. That’s the essence of effective branding.
No, Jonathan Adler isn’t for everyone, but for your sake, I hope it’s for you.