Sur La Table was founded in the heart of Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market in 1972 by local foodie and culinary chef, Shirley Collins. Known for her support of the Market community, Collins believed in its unvarnished authentic charm and sought to create a kitchenware retail store in the center of it all. It was the first kitchenware store of its kind in Seattle, attracting food lovers and culinary visionaries alike, including Collins’ friend Julia Child. The once part-speakeasy, part barbershop was transformed into a culinary hub, packed from floor-to-ceiling with the best kitchen goods, curated from across the globe. 

Forty-five years later, Sur La Table has expanded from its humble roots into a National brand whose pride of place has spread to 119 locations with 2,300 employees. The in-store experience has also evolved, and today Sur La Table hosts cooking classes where anyone can pull up a chair for a lesson at one of their fully-integrated kitchen retail locations.

The Challenge:
When faced with an increasing number of customers migrating from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping, Sur La Table saw an opportunity to leverage its vibrant history and unique in-store experience to build national brand awareness and drive engagement. As a trusted partner, CRP was challenged to establish a new brand vision, consumer segmentation model, and identity system to increase awareness, boost sales, and encourage customer engagement.

The Solution:
We immersed ourselves in the history of the company and gathered key insights from consumers and employees from across the country, and led Sur La Table’s key stakeholders through day long retreat to clarify the brand’s direction. Our initial work resulted in alignment around a new purpose, bringing the brand back to its roots: “To bring people closer together through cooking. Because life happens around the table.” 

Mission in hand, we asked ourselves the tough question, “how?” 

We needn’t look further than the company’s rich history to reveal the answer. Pike Place Market, where every fish monger, local farmer, street performer and tourist from around the world is welcome. It proudly remains the home of Sur La Table’s flagship store, and would serve as our inspiration and a constant reminder of the scrappy character and community Sur La Table wished to share with others. 

In order to accomplish our goals, we uncovered ways to clarify the brand message and appropriately channel communication. We crafted an internal brand book that defined the brand character and voice, and created a consumer segmentation model to identify their core community, allowing Sur La Table to speak directly to their hearts, and bellies.

We co-authored a set of brand guidelines with Sur La Table’s internal creative team to ensure executional consistency company-wide . The resulting document took into account the full spectrum of Sur La Table’s design touch points – from retail and private label packaging and seasonal campaigns to interactive and email marketing initiatives. By sharpening Sur La Table’s brand purpose, executional consistency, value proposition and omnichannel marketing strategy, we discovered why Sur La Table was “on the table.” Because life happens around it… and there is always room for one more.

The Results:
The new brand positioning strategy has increased awareness and engagement nation-wide, and acted as a catalyst for exciting partnerships and opportunities, including Scraps, and Full Plate, new culinary television series co-produced by Katie Couric



Brand Positioning and Strategy
Brand Guidelines
Onboarding Tools
Catalog Design
Digital Marketing Template Design
Packaging Design + Sourcing