Small-Business Branding Tips Fit for a King

How the founder of Kitchen Cabinet Kings turned a layoff into a entrepreneurial opportunity.
Personal Branding Expert, Millennial Branding
July 26, 2012

To better understand how an online retailer uses branding effectively, especially through social media, I spoke to Anthony Saladino, the founder of Kitchen Cabinet Kings. His company is the leading online distributor of quality cabinets, selling discount cabinetry with a track record of good service.

Saladino, only 28, became an entrepreneur in 2009 when he was suddenly laid off from a job he had held for five years as a kitchen designer and sales manager. While working at that job on the showroom floor, he noticed that customers were coming in to touch and feel cabinets but were purchasing them online. As soon as he lost his position, he called all of his cabinet manufacturer contacts and pitched the idea of selling their products online to reach a national market.

Six months after his layoff, Saladino had set up his business and partnered with his brother, a computer programmer. Within two years, the business grew from a $10,000 investment to a company generating $460,000 in revenue. As the owner of the company, no one can fire Saladino this time around.

OPEN Forum: How did you come up with your brand name? What inspired it?
Anthony Saladino: We wanted to come up with a brand name that was going to be useful for us from an SEO perspective. We are a leading distributor of bathroom and kitchen cabinets nationwide and having 'kitchen cabinet' in our brand name/company website would help us climb the search engines faster. So we brainstormed for all different variations based on domain availability, and came up Kitchen Cabinet Kings.

OF: How have you differentiated your brand from your competitors?
We created both a KcK traditional logo, a Kitchen Cabinet King Avatar logo, and a slogan that fits in with our brand message. 'Kitchen Cabinet Kings - Cabinets Fit For Royalty, But Affordable For All.' We've differentiated our brand by drilling home the point, that we are the number one source for discount cabinets online. All our website copy and onsite/offsite marketing initiatives reinforce our discount niche in the industry.

OF: How have you used social media tools to communicate your brand? What other marketing tactics do you use?
AS: Social media is a fun way that we communicate our brand. Our Facebook fan page has a main cover image of our Kitchen Cabinet King avatar hanging out in a sweet white kitchen. We also used custom design icons to tie our brand in to the Facebook platform—for example we used an image of a castle for the 'Home' icon, and an image of a scroll for the 'Terms of Use' icon. We also incorporated the Kitchen Cabinet King avatar into our Twitter profile with a custom background featuring him on top of a hill with all our contact information.

OF: How have you been able to maintain your brand since you started it?
AS: Maintaining the brand for us has been a matter of reinforcing our message in all our onsite/offsite marketing initiatives. In addition, we designed high-quality custom shirts featuring our Kitchen Cabinet Kings Avatar and gave them out for free to all our friends. We also designed custom dogtag necklaces and coffee mugs and gave those out as well. All these efforts has helped spread our brand locally, and has even resulted in some additional sales.

OF: What three pieces of branding advice would you give to another small-business owner?
AS: First, trademark your logos. The last thing you want is to brand a logo and not have the legal ownership rights to it. Second, put your logo everywhere. All onsite/offsite content should be branded with your logo. Third, use something fun. People love characters or avatars.

Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen-Y research and management-consulting firm. Subscribe to his updates

Photo credit: Courtesy Kitchen Cabinet Kings