The World’s Leading Home + Housewares Show

March 2–4, 2025 | McCormick Place | Chicago, IL

The World’s Leading Home + Housewares Show
March 2—4 | McCormick Place | Chicago, IL

Effective branding in today’s omnichannel marketplace starts with a compelling brand story that stokes an emotional and intellectual response by consumers, branding specialist Adrienne Weiss during a session on “Retail Branding Post-COVID” during IHA’s Connect FALL virtual event. 

Weiss, the founder of Adrienne Weiss Corp, has spearheaded startup branding and rebranding projects for dozens of prominent retailers, food-and-beverage brands, consumer products suppliers, entertainment companies and more. She also has collaborated with the International Housewares Association on trade show re-branding. 

The root principle behind reenergizing brands spans industries and businesses, Weiss said. It all starts with cultivating a brand story that resonates with the target customer. 

“Brand is not a logo,” Weiss said. “It needs a logo, but in essence, the brand is a story. And the story has to be about what’s in it for the guest… A story is told through words and pictures. It has to be emotional and intellectual.” 

She encouraged businesses to think of a brand as a culturally relevant club people want to join, or as a country with its own language and rituals.  

She shared examples from among her clients. 

  • To prime the launch of Build-A-Bear Workshop, Weiss tapped into the heartfelt connection between Teddy bears and children. 
    • “It is not where you make a toy, it is where best friends are made,” she said, noting how giving each child-made plush bear a “heart” became integral to the logo and store experience. “When you hook those emotional aspects to a brand, you have a winner,” she said. 
  • For Baskin-Robbins, Weiss showed how the number 31— representing the iconic 31 flavors offered by the ice cream store brand — was integrated into the brand logo.
    • “When you can embed the brand equity in the mark, that’s special,” she said. 
  • For Casabella cleaning products, she demonstrated how the “Be” in the logo is highlighted to anchor a story built on the brand’s primary “Be Clean” attribute, enabling such extensions as “Be Flexible,” “Be Handy” and “Be Outdoors.”
    • “Less is more in the brand business,” Weiss said. “If you can say it in two words, that’s more powerful than two sentences.” 
  • For Giant Eagle, she noted how a simple embellishment, in this case, the addition to the logo of what looks to be a handwritten “Friendly” between “Super” and “Market” cements the brand promise.
    • “Distill the story down to the most powerful things,” Weiss said.  

“Put the simplest, most powerful brand story at the top,” she continued, explaining that a rebrand can be implemented effectively through a rolling change. “You don’t have to do everything at the beginning… Start by getting the brand story right. And get it right as soon as possible.”