86 & Norman BHB Case Study

BHB Case Study: Cheryl Williams of 86 & Norman

Chloe Tate

There are some interesting trends and patterns in the world of brand development and the experience of coaching hundreds of product-based brands through the process has laid those bare for Team Lucky Break. Cheryl of 86 & Norman was battling several of the more common beliefs about branding, namely…

  • If you’ve named the company, then you have a brand.
  • If you have a logo, then you have a brand.
  • If you think of a brand name yourself, then you’ve got the greenlight to use it.

That meant that Cheryl came into BHB in 2018 with the feeling that she needed to switch some things up, but she had no idea how much “switching up” we’d be doing together. But now she’s rocking a new brand name (one that’s officially trademarked!) and a new logo- and she’s getting accepted into shows you could only dream of before her rebrand.

Cheryl is a hard worker, a woman of action, and one of our favorite BHB grads. We can’t wait for you to meet her!

Getting to know 86 & Norman

LBC: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Cheryl: I launched Double Clutched in May 2015 because I wanted to give women more handbag options that matched their personality that they couldn’t find in popular stores at the mall or online. I’ve always been a crafter and a creative but the sewing machine from my parents in 2014 kick-started my desire to create not just for myself but for others as well.

LBC: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand

Cheryl: The short version: when it was going to cost me a pretty penny to trademark my business name, Double Clutched. A little longer version, while going through BHB and learning more about the importance of having a trademark, I ran into another pending trademark very similar to my name from a business that also made clutches. After consulting with a lawyer and seeing how many other businesses are using “clutch” or “clutched” in their business name, I decided it was time to actually make my business a brand and not just a name with some products behind it.


LBC: What significant realizations about the nature of branding did you discover through Brick House Branding?

Cheryl: I learned that having a name doesn’t mean you have a brand. I didn’t really have an emotional connection to my old name Double Clutched. It was literally just a name. A brand needs to invoke feelings and have a voice. Once you know how you want your customers to feel and how you want to speak to your customers you can pinpoint what is acceptable for your brand and what absolutely is not your brand.

LBC: How did you allocate the workload? Did you tag in professionals for some pieces and DIY other facets of the brand redevelopment?

Cheryl: With limited funds, I decided that I wanted to have professional photos because with selling online people need to see my products in the best light, the best settings, and at the best angles. I did DIY my logo and brand board. This was only after doing a lot of research and reading other materials on logos, colors, fonts, and learn a bit of Illustrator.


LBC: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?

Cheryl: My biggest obstacle was finding my core, the one thing I wanted my brand to ultimately do. That was hard because it’s very easy to come up with something generic like “I want to make unique handbags”. Well doesn’t every bag maker want to do that? I really had to think about it. Focus on my core customer. What did I want to give her and what need did I want to fulfill for her? I hadn’t thought about any of these before BHB.

LBC: How has your own perception of your brand evolved since graduating from Brick House Branding.

Cheryl: I think of my brand as a person. She has likes and dislikes. Places she loves and places she would never go. Things she likes to do and talk about, and things she would steer clear of. And with that, I’m able to decide what fabrics I buy, what events I do, what I post on social media or in my newsletter. My brand has a persona that drives everything I do.

86 & norman clutch bag

LBC: Are your products are being received differently by others since the rebrand? How has their reaction evolved?

Cheryl: I did something a little differently with my products and with my rebrand. I gave them each of them names. Each one of my products is named after African American women or characters. This has been very well received, as customers feel a connection to a product because it’s not clutch a hip bag, it’s a Maxine Hip Bag, named after Maxine Shaw from the show Living Single.

LBC: Can you share a recent win that you’ve enjoyed now that you’ve rebranded?

Cheryl: I recently attended the xoNecole ElevateHER event in Atlanta, GA where I was a vendor with 20 other black women-owned businesses. This event was attended by brands who are currently in Target, have their own retail stores, and press such as BET Her attended. I know that without rebranding I wouldn’t have been accepted as a vendor to such an amazing experience.

86 & Norman wallet

LBC: How did the Brick House Branding experience help shape your brand development process?

Cheryl: I learned the importance of how to build a brand, starting with my purpose, my core, identifying my person, and my brand voice. Only after that could I tackle colors and logo. My business name was actually decided towards the end of my process instead of being what I started off with.

LBC: What advice would you give to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process?

Cheryl: Be open-minded. Don’t decide on what you will or won’t do before you start. If it’s a mental challenge that’s good. It means you’re thinking critically about your brand.

LBC: What’s next for your brand?

Cheryl: Tackling wholesale seriously. Now that I have streamlined my fabric offerings, keeping track of inventory is much much easier. Ramping up my brand’s reach by attending more high profile vending events and connecting with influencers who perfectly align with my business. I also hope to relaunch my mobile shop by next summer.


Want us to be a part of your branding journey? Brand development just-so-happens to be our specialty, and Brick House Branding is our most celebrated program. Enrollment for the January 2020 semester of this 9-week brand development mentorship is open through September 13. Grab your seat and let’s give your business a strategic makeover!

About the Author

Chloe Tate

Once described as “relentlessly cheerful,” Chloe is a lover of all things colorful and practically every fruit known to man. She lives in Atlanta and divides her time between supporting Lucky Break clients, keeping shop at a local artisan market, and event planning for business conferences. She’s also working on the launch of her skincare line while finishing her degree in Organizational & Leadership Studies. True story: Chloe shares 50% of Lela’s DNA and is poised to inherit her obscenely large shoe collection.

4 responses on “BHB Case Study: Cheryl Williams of 86 & Norman

  1. Angie Chua

    So cool seeing how she transformed her brand at a the foundational level. The naming of her bags is such an incredible way to connect shoppers and customers to her products and build resonance. Great work Cheryl and gorgeous bags!

  2. Allison Callaway

    I love how she thinks of her brand as a living, breathing person with likes and dislikes. That’s a great framework that’s easy to adapt into my business strategy!

  3. Brandy Searcy

    This was a great read! Hearing Cheryl talk about 86 & Norman as a person is incredible, and I’d love to know how she sees this persona she’s created as different from herself (and, I’m sure that will change over time as the business evolves). Also, the before and after pictures are incredible. It’s so amazing to see how much different the clutch looks when being held by somebody – it just gives so much context with regards to size and richness of the colors.

  4. Melissa Gondek

    You had me at “If you’ve named the company, then you have a brand.” Hah! It was very helpful seeing how Cheryl approached the process, especially how she allocated the workload – that’s a big one for me.

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