In 2015, we connected with Whole New Home, a marketplace for home professionals. Despite boasting over 20,000 active listings, they were struggling to monetize on subscriptions and discussed with us an idea to pivot the company to focus on interior designers. What they needed was a captivating brand and product direction.
We worked together to land a new company name — Kabuni — and proceeded to craft the verbal identity of a future brand. Using our positioning framework, we identified the strongest fit between the needs of the audience and Kabuni’s solutions. We zeroed in on a positioning statement, which expanded into vision & mission, brand story, voice and a short pitch-like description of the company:
Kabuni is a community-driven marketplace for home designers, design lovers, and makers, where every purchase makes an impact.
The name of Whole New Homes’s charity foundation Better Homes For Everyone became Kabuni’s brand promise to its audience: to create a sense of home for those in need through creating a sense of home for its customers. Better Homes for Everyone has become the organization’s Massively Transformative Purpose.
Design with purpose
After the name and verbal identity were set, Arman took on experimenting with the visual identity that would reflect the newly articulated essence of the company — design with purpose. Traditional representations of home and variations of the letter ‘K’ got him nowhere. Kabuni felt too powerful to be constrained by conventional associations.
What yielded results was doubling down on the idea of home rather than its physical representation, with the mix of Kabuni-specific values: community, connection, collaboration and empathy. We arrived at a logo representing interlocked boards, symbolizing the connection between a client and designer. A fine-tuned wordmark was designed to accompany this symbol. It flows in continuity, with no hard edges, and features a highly legible sans-serif typeface.
The unity of interface and user experience
In designing the Kabuni web app, we paid close attention to transitions and animations. We wanted them to feel natural and act as clear affordances that guide users through the experience.
Creating the aura
A crucial aspect of Kabuni’s success is the precise collaboration between clients and designers. They need a way to communicate beyond what the furniture in the room should be — rather how the room feels. After rounds of iterations, we came up with a design for a powerful slider that defines the space along three axes: classic–eclectic, cozy–formal, rustic–clean — making the style of any room instantly relatable.
Kabuni’s audience are people on the go, expecting to have access to a fully functional mobile app at any time. Starting small and relying on lean methodology, we sketched the initial prototype, released a beta version of the iOS app and swiftly went through dozens of rounds of iterations, removing or adding features based on users’ behaviour and feedback.
An intuitive and simple design for an iOS app as complex as Kabuni is not an easy feat. Matching algorithms, inspiration boards, client collaboration and store functionality have to feel natural and complementary. To fit in all the features without diluting the hierarchy of important actions, we saw an opportunity for an additional gesture — long tap, which calls out a small menu on inspiration-board or stream items.
Through the transformation of Whole New Home into Kabuni, we changed the direction of the whole company. The new brand attracted the design community, opened doors and facilitated partnerships that before seemed out of reach.
We’ve crafted a powerful brand that shook the interior design industry with its strong visual & verbal identity, designed web and mobile apps, set the communication strategy and assisted with the opening of the first Kabuni Design Studio. Although our work for Kabuni is now complete, our partnership remains ongoing.
We are looking forward to see what comes next.
The creation of the brand, and what it means, and how it is shared with the world was a stroke of genius.
– Neil Patel, CEO of Kabuni