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Brand Portfolio: The Laughing Dog Gallery

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Brand Portfolio: The Laughing Dog Gallery 

Fun and catchy branding from slogan to bags

BY HARRIET HOWARD HEITHAUS

Published in the October 2012 issue.

In Florida’s challenging economy, Susie and Jeff Wilber of Vero Beach found they’ve done well by letting their business go to the dogs. The Laughing Dogs, specifically. It’s the name of their gallery, inspired by the Wilbers’ portly canine crew that take turns lolling around the store or cruising the beach in a billboard-bearing pickup.

“On Saturday mornings, my husband puts on his yellow Laughing Dog Gallery shirt and ball cap, loads the three bull mastiffs in the truck, and drives around the beach for a few hours while the farmers market is in full swing. They generate a lot of traffic for us on Saturdays,” Susie observes.

The Laughing Dog Gallery specializes in original artisan jewelry and glass, and has operated for 11 years in an Atlantic Coast vacation town just a block from the beach. That demands a memorable brand and immediacy in advertising. Thus, the mobile billboard, along with advertising on the backs of their own customers: shirts and ball caps in sunny yellow — the latter often bestowed as gifts — with its cartoon mascot depicted in full stride and hearty guffaw.

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Just as important as the mascot on the shirt is positioning of the quick-recall website: thelaughingdoggallery.com, in alternating black and red to subtly emphasize the “the” in its title. That differentiates them from laughingdoggallery.com, an art shop in Brighton, England. Optimizing search engines to bring their store up first helps.

The store’s catchy slogan, “Own art. Be happy,” goes everywhere on the shirts and bags, too and is on the storefront as well. It’s a deceptively simple way of advocating visitors take home something of higher quality than a coffee mug or coconut candy.

“I wish I could take all the credit, but some very creative minds in Chicago helped our former advertising team come up with it,” Susie says. “We trademarked it almost immediately because in addition to putting it on all our ads, our packaging, our enclosure cards, etc., we knew we wanted to create T-shirts, bookmarks and other fun marketing materials utilizing the slogan. It’s fun, catchy and sums up our gallery perfectly.”

BRAND COMPONENTS

MASCOTS

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The Laughing Dog Gallery was named for the Wilbers’ bull mastiffs who enjoy lounging in the store.

PACKAGING

The Wilbers are frequently asked if The Laughing Dog Gallery is a franchise: “I generally take that as a compliment, because the branding we have created is so strong,” Susie says. “We have achieved excellent name recognition, and there’s a bit of a cachet factor to our jazzy shopping bags and packaging.”

PRINT ADS

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For print ads, the Wilbers look to publications with loyal readers: “We advertise regularly in Vero Beach Magazine, a monthly glossy publication that has a large readership and is in most of the hotels on the beach,” Susie Wilber says. “In addition, we have had good success with ads in a weekly beachside newspaper. Many of the local snowbirds even have it mailed to their northern homes when they are not here in Florida.”

WEBSITE & FACEBOOK

  • In addition to aggressive advertising in traditional outlets such as local magazines, newspapers and public radio, the gallery has recently turned its attention to social media and launched an e-commerce website to reach a larger audience.
  • The company uses a Facebook page to showcase simple, striking new items such as Saundra Messinger’s belt-thick silver cuffs. The Laughing Dog Gallery also keeps a good-sized mailing list of more than 1,500 regular customers who get information on trunk shows, events and sales.



EXTERIOR

The gallery occupies a sun-filled 4,000-squarefoot showroom on Vero Beach’s barrier island, one block from the Atlantic Ocean.

BEACH BUS

“We wanted a savvy, fun brand and marketing strategy that emphasized the gallery’s passion for original, unique art and jewelry. Now trademarked, the slogan is seen at the entrance to the store, as well as in print ads, direct marketing campaigns, packaging, the website, social networking, and on T-shirts, ball caps and the side of the local public transit bus.”

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