Case Study — Success for Kodama Zomes

Recently, I partnered with designer/engineer Richie Duncan, to create a Look for his business Kodama Zomes — a revolutionary new product in the outdoor furniture space. Our challenge was to capture the essence of a product that had never been seen before, and our task was to pioneer its perception. After delving into the research phase, Richie was able to pinpoint those unique product features that set his furniture apart from the competition: the single-point hanging system that creates a smooth rocking motion (and provides a calming influence over the vestibular system); the beauty of the design itself, which was inspired by natural patterning, and sacred geometry; and the ability of the product to comfortably hold 4 adults. Next, we considered his potential audience. Who would be most likely to purchase a Zome, and where would we find them? It was difficult to resist saying "everyone will want a Zome!" But, after research, and strategic consideration, we concluded that the most fitting approach was to position the product as innovative, functional art in the hospitality sector. 



Clearly, the product is a winner! Richie knew it, and I knew it (I have one, and once you get in, you don't want to get out), and now, 10,000 HD Expo attendees know it!  But, having a winning product is not enough. If you can't get people interested in trying your product, they'll never know how fantastic it is. And if your product faces any sort of challenges with perception — e.g. they don't know what it is, then you've got to smooth the way, and make it easy and appealing for people to try it out.   

Through the Discovery process, we were able to strategically craft a Look that got Kodama noticed. From the logo and catalog design, to the actual styling of the product, and the way the the sales team expressed the company's essence at the show—the consistent delivery of Richie's message (both visual and verbal) created a desire to sit in, interact with, and experience the Zome —with the end result being Best in Show. 

Here's how we did it:

Richie's initial vision was that his zomes would primarily hang from trees (the name Kodama means "tree spirit" in Japanese). Since Richie looked to patterns found in the natural world, and an ancient form of geometry to create the zome, I drew on the same inspiration to design the logo. 


Top: the branch and leaves are discovered
Middle: the zome outline is found
Bottom: the branch and leaves are laid over the zome


Top: the original zome found in the geometric pattern
Middle: the image is rotated, and the top leaf is shortened to put more emphasis on the zome structure.
Bottom: the branch is given a softer curve.


The final logo implemented in color. Natural earth tones are used to evoke a feeling of airiness, and relaxation.


To help Richie put his best foot forward, I was asked to design a variety of supporting collateral to give his business the most professional leg-up. Among other things, this included stationery, cushion tags, a PVC label for the zome, spec sheets, a tradeshow postcard, and a fabric color guide. We used a very simple, clean, architectural layout that allowed product, and lifestyle shots to shine.


Zome Styling

In addition to the Look we created for all of Richie's printed materials, I was asked to assist with fabric selection for the 2017 linestyle the zomes for the product photo shoot, and lend a creative eye to booth design / set up for the HD Expo tradeshow. Below are a few images that capture what we accomplished.

Here's what Richie has to say:

"Brenda has been invaluable since the very beginning when she helped with visioning our brand identity and directions for growth. She listened to the goals and desires of our company, and began to design the brand strategy and marketing efforts. Even from the very first colors, fonts, and logo designs, she was thoughtful in her suggestions and focus on brand direction. She has become part of the team. It is like having a dedicated branding specialist, marketing consultant, and graphic designer on staff. I have enjoyed how she continues to help us develop new strategies and campaigns as our business evolves and changes. She has been very important to us and has indeed helped the business grow and succeed. I would highly recommend partnering with Brenda, whether you are a starting business looking for guidance, or an established brand looking for a talented and dependable branding strategist and designer." — Richie Duncan

Until next post,



P.S. Whether you've been in business for a few years and need an identity refresh, or whether you're a start-up looking for more strategic assistance—I can help you find your best Look, and get you noticed.  Contact me for a half-hour, free consultation.

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