Brooklyn Born

Rebranding Watermark Designs with a successful communication plan and ad campaign inspired by Brooklyn roots.

The world of faucet manufacturing is often homogenized from one brand to another – one style to another. It is challenging to be noticed and provide consumers a compelling reason to learn more about your company. How does one stand out and shine in a somewhat commoditized industry? The answer lies somewhere between going back to your core values, strengths and capabilities… and a retooling of your image.

Challenge: For more than three decades, Watermark Designs has been a leading manufacturer of decorative faucets and bathroom hardware for the luxury commercial and residential markets. A DRS Worldwide client for several years, in early 2010, Avi Abel, president of Watermark Designs, and David and Natalie Schlocker of DRS discussed the need to rebrand Watermark Designs to be better aligned with Avi’s vision and “Brooklynite” identity. This rebranding would be accomplished through advertising, social media communication and public relations efforts. Despite its history as a family-owned, made in the USA company, Watermark’s story and background were not being conveyed effectively in its messaging. The mission for DRS was to reinvent Watermark’s image to reflect its heritage as a third generation company with a passion for the products they design, develop and manufacture in the heart of Brooklyn.

Solution: Located in an artisanal hub for design and craftsmanship, Watermark takes daily inspiration from its Brooklyn surroundings. Architecture, history and art are just some of the cultural cornerstones of this vibrant community reflected in Watermark’s product designs. Rather than present these products photographed in traditional interior environments, doing little to reflect their origins, the creative team, headed by Natalie Schlocker focused on the homegrown inspiration behind these designs.

The first step was to develop a product collection that would represent the new Watermark messaging. The collection name was simple: “Brooklyn.” David’s vision of what the faucet collection should look like in terms of design and finish was quickly fulfilled by Avi when he realized he had just the right handle and spout combination from a previous project collaboration that hadn’t yet come to fruition. Through a curated series of ads pairing Brooklyn imagery with select products, Natalie Schlocker created and crafted a campaign to more accurately represent the brand and its story. The Watermark Brooklyn Collection became more than an iconic representation of Watermark; it became (and still is) a top-selling collection.

1. Watermark’s Classic Contemporary Collection draws from legendary architects and their work. This photograph of the Manhattan Bridge (taken from the Brooklyn side) simultaneously showcases a rich, architectural relic and a canvas for new life. Inspired by architect Philip Johnson’s love for modernism with an iconic twist, the Loft faucet CC51 handles with their precision sliced, asymmetric rings reflect the bridge’s unique columns. Blending old and new, this modern design fits in perfectly with the borough’s historic, architectural aesthetic.

2. Inspired by the structural steel monoliths and industrial waterfronts of Brooklyn, the Edge faucet strikes a balance between innovation and daring design. This ad draws inspiration from the “New York City Waterfalls” public art project by artist Olafur Eliasson, who placed four man-made waterfalls along the East River. The Edge’s waterfall spout complements the cascading water beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, evoking the integration between industry and nature.

3. From 1898 to 1950, trolley lines whisked passengers across the Brooklyn Bridge to Lower Manhattan, entering the bridge roadway from Downtown Brooklyn. Inspired by the beautiful cobblestone streets traversed by these lines, the Kensington faucet recreates the weather-worn smoothness and organic profile of the hand-laid stones. With a contemporary feel, the gentle lines of the arched spout evoke the curved trolley tracks and streets outlining Brooklyn’s East River border.

Results: By embracing Watermark’s architectural, cultural and historical surroundings, DRS has created a successful brand retooling, communication plan and ad campaign that plays out in its dealer network, Architect + Design customer base and social media community – more accurately reflecting the brand’s Brooklyn roots and the rich cultural story behind its designs.