Long known as an outdoor manufacturer catering to the luxury market, Brown Jordan is in the midst of a comprehensive rebrand designed to attract a new generation of consumers.
“Long a traditional anchor known for elegance and quality, we’re transitioning into more of a lifestyle brand to make ourselves more approachable,” relates Stephen F. Elton, Chief Brand Curator. The idea is to tell our story in a way that makes us a little hipper, a little more aspirational for younger consumers who do their research and are very interested in quality and design.”
Elton travels often to connect directly with consumers at retail. “Most companies don’t send people out to meet the consumer, but that’s a very important part of my job,” Elton says, recounting a recent event in Brown Jordan’s Costa Mesa, CA store. “The corporate offices of Vans, the cool skateboarding and sneaker manufacturer, are right across the street. A young woman walked across and recognized me from a YouTube video. She ended up spending about two hours in the store and purchased a collection called Kantan, a great, classic Mid-Century Modern design that we’ve updated with new materials and the assistance of designer Richard Frinier.”
It was originally designed for Brown Jordan in the 1950s by Tadao Inouye and was chosen by the Department of Commerce to be a part of the U.S. exhibit at the 1959 Industrial World’s Fair in Tokyo. “Kantan also won an award from Alcoa, because aluminum back then was brand-new for outdoor,” Elton describes. “Leaf through old LIFE magazines and Saturday Evening Posts, and you’ll see shots of it with the Kennedys, Bob Hope and William Holden. It’s truly a classic. ”
He finds younger shoppers gravitating toward such authenticity and Brown Jordan’s current call to “Invest in the Good Life,” the rebrand credo. “A good life isn’t a collection of things,” the executive says, “but a collection of moments.”
According to Elton — who received the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Casual Furnishings Association at the Casual Market in Chicago last fall — the rebrand includes a new visual identity executed through a multimedia channel plan, including a redesigned website, social media (Instagram is important, as is the aforementioned YouTube), digital advertising and the showroom experience. “We do a lot of research, a lot of focus groups, and we look at things in a lot of different ways,” he noted recently at BDNY, the boutique trade show aimed at the hospitality industry. “We looked at what we needed to do to expand peoples’ vision of the brand. What came back to us was the need to be truer to our legacy as a birthplace of Mid-Century Modern, and that while the product is elegant and beautiful, it was maybe not approachable.”
For this reason, the company — which serves national accounts like Neiman Marcus, Design Within Reach and Terrain, in addition to the hospitality, architecture and design communities, independent retailers as well as its own stores across the country (the newest will open next month in San Francisco) — is more visually focused now on showing “what it’s like to live with our furniture,” he says. “Today, you see more humans in our advertising. Certainly, it’s still elegant, a window into the good life.”
“It’s about creating space for people to come together, connect with family and friends, create memories and pass down traditions from generation to generation,” says John Wojcik, Chief Marketing Officer for Brown Jordan’s parent company, Brown Jordan International.
Elton points to a shot of a mother seated at an outdoor dining table with her young son on her lap as an example of this mindset. The accompanying copy references “moments of laughter and love, gratitude and grace, connection and reflection, celebration and affirmation — fully realized, deeply experienced, deliberately lived. Moments when the metronome of life is purposefully slowed, and a crystalline clarity of what is truly important is mercifully revealed. And things like family and community are no longer seen as cute clichés, but for what they truly are — the quintessential elements of every Good Life. Because the Good Life is the good fortune of being able to share what you have with those you love … thanking the universe for the blessings you have been bestowed and making good on your gifts by opening your heart — and your space — to others with a sense of humanity and wonder. To know the joy of choosing to serve — of inviting someone into your space — of welcoming and hosting and entertaining. To making the denizens of your good life comfortable in a space you have curated for this very moment. To design your experience and make the beautiful … effortless. To surround yourself with the stuff of life … and to know that it is Good. This is the noble endeavor. This is the worthy pursuit. This is the often forgotten, timeless truth. The one thing that is worth investing our entire selves in.”
“Outdoor spaces have become more popular than ever, and the luxury furniture market overall is experiencing rapid growth,” says Gene Moriarty, President and Chief Executive Officer of Brown Jordan International. “We recognized a need to modernize the brand and tell the Brown Jordan story to a new generation of buyers to keep pace with that growth and maintain our position as the leader in luxury outdoor furniture.”
And according to Elton, the storytelling is connecting. “The thing that I love about the younger consumers I’m meeting is that they don’t just buy the product and walk away, they send a note afterwards and they stay in touch. A young couple who bought during an event in Scottsdale found that I’m headed to Scottsdale again in three weeks, and they sent me a note saying they wanted to come see me. I sent them a note back and said, ‘Oh that’s great, did you want to look at some more furniture?’ And she said, ‘No, we just wanted to say hi and show you pictures.’ They like the interaction, and the feedback we receive from that kind of one-on-one is invaluable as we move forward.”