How Lowe’s Launched a Lifestyle Brand on Brandcast

MONICA MEHIEL  / MAY 26, 2016

Creating and launching a website is a big endeavor for any marketing team. Even large, industry-leading companies have surprisingly small and scrappy marketing teams that are often unable to mobilize the internal resources needed to execute large digital initiatives on tight deadlines. Marketers and creatives are often at the mercy of their busy IT teams and have little control of the timeline and final product. 
Lowe’s private brand team needed to create a website for allen + roth, their hugely successful private label brand. With thousands of products across 70 product groups, allen + roth generates almost $1B in revenue each year. However, allen + roth had very low brand awareness and their digital presence was nonexistent. Lowe’s wanted to establish allen + roth as a lifestyle brand that offers home décor ideas and creative inspiration to their distinct audience, which is different from the general Lowe’s shopper. 


The company needed a responsive website fully designed and deployed without using their internal teams and resources. They needed a site they could own and add content to on a daily basis. They wanted to see what their competitors were doing well, and wanted insights into what successful lifestyle brands and blogs have in common. They wanted engaging and creative content that would resonate with their community. The site needed to be executed thoughtfully, beautifully, efficiently, and delivered on time. 

Lowe’s chose the Brandcast platform to create their new allen + roth website and enlisted   Brandcast’s creative team to provide brand and content strategy, art direction, design, and production support.  They recognized that Brandcast would help them deliver on their vision of having a beautiful, engaging digital brand presence for allen + roth. The platform’s code-free tools would accelerate design and deployment processes and help the project team meet Lowe’s launch timeframe. Most importantly, the company’s marketers would have full control over the website, which meant they could easily keep content fresh and manage the site themselves without depending on IT.
 
Here’s how our creative team at Brandcast approached the challenge: 

We did a deep dive into the competitive (and emotional) landscape.

The digital landscape is saturated with content and digital marketers are fighting to cut through all of it. It was important for us to think about how to position allen + roth so we could create a connection with their audience from the start. We researched allen + roth’s direct competitors and secondary competitors, and we also looked at aspirational lifestyle brands and bloggers who had fresh, thoughtful content and loyal audiences. We uncovered key insights that we used to inform our design, layout, and content approach for the allen + roth website. We also identified plenty of opportunities for allen + roth to outshine their competitors. We highlighted the importance of knowing themselves and knowing their audience and so they could communicate with them in thoughtful and meaningful ways.

 Understanding the allen + roth target audience.

We took wireframing a few steps further. 

It’s easy to create dozens of wireframe iterations by swapping around rows of stacked boxes and having a client to choose a direction before presenting any creative. Instead, we used our competitive audit and our understanding of Lowe’s objectives to carefully consider what the goals of each wireframe would be before drawing them up. All of our layouts included everything they wanted, dialed up or dialed down to create three distinct, engaging layouts. 

We presented our wireframes with our first round of creative. Lowe’s was gearing up for an allen + roth photo shoot and did not yet have content for the site. We translated the wireframes into three home page designs and used allen + roth brand elements, aspirational photography, and content that we felt was in line with the allen + roth brand. 

Although it was just the start of the website, Lowe’s was excited to see their big picture objectives in context. They chose a wireframe direction and listened to our recommendations for how to style and shoot their product and lifestyle photography. Rather than forcing existing brand assets into the site design, the Lowe’s team used our placeholder images as creative direction for their allen + roth photo shoot. The end result was fresh, compelling images that work within the new site design and strengthen their brand voice. Lowe’s felt confident in the wireframe direction they chose, and we were able to receive early creative feedback which made later rounds of review efficient and straightforward. 

We streamlined their brand assets for the digital landscape.

Logos, colors, and other design elements are essential for setting the correct tone for a brand. When creating a website, it is imperative for visuals to be strong in their simplicity. allen + roth had brand assets and guidelines, but they were geared toward product packaging and in-store print design. We combed through their existing brand assets and limited the usage and combination of elements to create a much smaller branding toolkit for the website. Without editing a single design file, we established a more modern, refined, and digitally-focused aesthetic for allen + roth. It’s a subtle and simple step that strengthens the overall site design and allows the content to shine. 

After creating the brand assets, we dropped them into Brandcast’s content drawer (the centralized asset repository) for us to use on the website. When Lowe’s needs to access their most up-to-date brand files, they can find them in the content drawer.

We balanced brand awareness with business goals. 
A retailer’s primary goal is to generate revenue by leading site visitors down a path to purchase products. Lowe’s wants allen + roth to be a lifestyle destination for ideas and inspiration, but it is not an exception to the rule of retail. They needed to sprinkle in opportunities to shop throughout the site so that the allen + roth website will directly contribute to Lowe’s bottom line. On the other hand, if the customer journey feels too "salesy" or contrived, the brand will lose its credibility and appear inauthentic, missing the opportunity to establish trust with its audience. Again, design comes into play. Rather than screaming “SHOP NOW” dozens of times, we came up with creative solutions that balance marketing messages and opportunities to shop with lifestyle content.

The allen + roth outdoor collection lookbook.

You can buy allen + roth products at Lowe’s stores or on Lowe’s website. On allen + roth’s site, you get the story behind the brand, concepts behind the products, and creative inspiration for daily life. Lookbooks offer a glimpse into the inspiration behind the design of the season’s newest collection, complete with quotes from product designers, mood boards, style tips, and tons of styled product images. The carousel of lamp shades and bases lets you interact with allen + roth’s mix and match lamp product line. The blog features creative inspiration which provides a deeper connection with the audience and promotes brand engagement. This all leads to repeat visitors and an increase in brand loyalty that is driven by content, not by price or promotion. 

Publishing the allen + roth site in the Brandcast Studio.

Once we finished designing the site, it was ready to publish. The Brandcast platform made this step as easy as possible with one click of a button. (Code-free platform for the win—no dev time needed). The best part is that the website is in the hands of Lowe’s marketing team, which has full control over its future. With Brandcast, Lowe’s can easily scale and evolve the  allen + roth website along with their ideas, product offerings, and marketing goals. Stay tuned for integrated social media feeds, style guides, and shoppable blog posts. We’re excited to watch allen + roth establish itself as a thought leader in the home décor space, offering great products and inspiration to anyone who wants to create a home that reflects their unique style. 

View the live site here.

Monica Mehiel Art Director

Monica is a design expert with a passion for branding, aesthetics, and creative strategy. She’s well-versed at transforming marketing objectives into beautiful and meaningful digital experiences. Monica has worked with in-house marketing and product teams at Sephora, Popsugar, Salesforce, and Walmart. She has executed cross-channel marketing initiatives for Nordstrom, Forever 21, Gucci, Coachella, Uber, Everlane, ShopStyle, Stella & Dot, and more.

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