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Dunn Lumber / 2012-Present
Agency of record; identity, design, content, campaign, out-of-home, environment, strategy, digital

The True Win-Win Is Possible

In an era of big-box and discount stores, Dunn Lumber stands apart, having built a legacy on trust, quality, and values like hard work and honesty. In 2013, as a new generation of consumers became their customers, Dunn Lumber saw the opportunity to communicate their values and vision as differentiators from their competitors. They asked Belief Agency to help them determine how best to tell their story—their legacy—to this new audience.

Dunn Lumber is a generational company building trust that lasts generations. In a time when only three percent of family-owned businesses survive past the third generation, Dunn Lumber is currently seeing its fifth generation of Dunn family members rise into leadership within the company. Statistically, the company was in trouble; it’s rare to have a company like Dunn Lumber still in business today. Somehow, they’ve been able to survive—why? According to Dunn Lumber’s CEO/president (a fourth-generation Dunn family member) Mike Dunn, “Trust is hard to gain and easy to lose.” So, Dunn Lumber focuses on three areas to ensure trust is being built: providing customers with expert advice, quality materials, and steady service.

Legacy of Trust

On day one, we worked to solidify the company’s beliefs and values and figure out how to communicate them clearly to the team. Over the past decade as the company grew, fewer employees had a direct relationship with a member of the Dunn family—and with it, a firsthand understanding of how the family’s values and traditions became so interwoven with the company’s. It was important to communicate this culture to the next generation of employees, so Dunn Lumber asked Belief Agency to create an internal film that communicated its core values to the staff.

Dunn Lumber believes in the concept of the true win-win; that the win-win is not only possible in some interactions between a company and its customers, but in every interaction. At Dunn Lumber, a true win-win is achieved when both the employee and customer leave an interaction feeling a sense of fulfillment from the transaction. The employee feels they were equipped to do their job well, and the customer feels they received the help they needed and the quality of service they deserved.

We developed a film that communicated the culture to employees. It made such an impact on the staff that Dunn Lumber decided to make it public-facing. Today, it’s known as the “Legacy of Trust” film.

Rebrand

After completing the film we had a better understanding of the Dunn Lumber brand, which led us to suggest a refresh of the brand’s visual identity. Our task was to create visual branding that would unify the Dunn Lumber messaging. Our goal was to make the brand more consistent, more digitally versatile, and more friendly.

“Danny Dunn” was the existing Dunn Lumber mascot, who had appeared alongside the company in various iterations since the 1940s. The existing version appeared sad or angry, which didn’t represent the friendliness of actual people we were interacting with day-to-day. Dunn Lumber wanted to make Danny feel more approachable without erasing his history and starting from scratch.

Content

What would happen is companies realized the best way to sell pots and pans is by helping their clients become better cooks? Or that the best way to sell gardening equipment is by teaching your customers how to grow their own vegetables? When you seek the good of your customers, everyone wins. 

We launched a three-pronged approach to create value and awareness. First, we focused on general brand awareness (the spring campaign). Then, in 2014, we launched a comprehensive content marketing strategy with the development of two new blogs as subsidiaries of the Dunn Lumber brand: Dunn DIY and Dunn Solutions, both offering consistent, valuable, and useful branded content to the two primary audience segments Dunn Lumber serves (DIYers and professional contractors). For years, Dunn Lumber has provided expert advice in their stores. Dunn Lumber employees have a combined 3,500 years of home-improvement experience. The blogs now gave that expertise an online presence.

Each blog publishes weekly video and written content, along with monthly newsletters, a social media presence, and regular events throughout the year. (For more on Dunn Lumber’s events, read about the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival.)

Dunn DIY

The 21st century DIY movement is filling hardware store aisles with women. Dunn DIY was created to target that female audience, who initiate 80 percent of all home-improvement decisions—a market expected to reach over $377 billion in 2018. 

Dunn DIY called for a female host, so we partnered with Kirsten Dunn, a fifth-generation Dunn Lumber employee. Together, we created original content that followed trends, established a series of tutorials to teach people how to use power tools, and integrated tutorials for both homeowners and renters. To affect a slightly more feminine tone, we softened the colors and used a thinner typeface.

Dunn Solutions

The professional contractor market has been Dunn Lumber’s lifeblood for many years. To serve them well, we created Dunn Solutions and positioned it as an online space for Dunn Lumber staff and professional contributors to share their collective knowledge and expertise, access detailed planning resources, and interact with other seasoned professionals. 

We partnered on the launch with a well-known Seattle-area contractor who has more than 30 years in the historic home renovation industry. 

Spring Campaign

Every spring we run an integrated campaign that serves coordinated but unique content across social media, YouTube, television, radio, out-of-home, and print media. 

Prior to running any large paid ad spots, we ran a 30-day series of giveaways through Dunn Lumber and Dunn DIY’s Facebook pages. 

A series of commercials were hosted by Dunn Lumber CEO/president Mike Dunn. Mike encouraged viewers to email him personally, providing his email address and later responding to every piece of mail. Putting the CEO in a recognizable position humanized Dunn Lumber in a way that made them stand out in their industry. Strategically, these ads were shared across a broad range of channels in a short period of time. On Facebook we run the #30DaysofDecking where we post content and host giveaways. Campaign covers the primary Dunn Lumber message: a promise, not a guarantee; expert advice; quality materials; flat-fee delivery. When we met the Dunn Lumber team they were already doing all those things, they just weren’t talking about it. We just made it known. 

Agency of Record

Over the next two years, we embarked on more than 300 projects for Dunn Lumber, including 250-foot murals on each of three locations, redesigned store entryways, trade show booths, a campaign celebrating their 110-year anniversary (summer barbecues, collateral), interior signage, exterior signage, in-store endcaps, brochures, vehicle wraps, TV commercials, radio ads, integrated YouTube ads, a new website launching mid-2018, brand collateral, packaging, in-store audio, merchandise, and collaborations with other Seattle-based brands such as Swansons Nursery.