The Art of Building a Legacy Brand

Published: June 27, 2024

On our most recent From the Tap Podcast, we spoke with Margaret Donaldson, owner of Charleston, S.C.-based MDI Luxury Design, a firm she started while she was nine months pregnant. She told us how she built her legacy brand and how you can do the same.

Donaldson believes in fostering all relationships, including those with clients, local builders, vendors and tradespeople. With clients, she says designers really become a part of their lives since they must learn how they want to use their spaces. In terms of vendors, the designer has come up with a way to involve them in a successful outcome, versus only seeking them out when there is a problem.

She is also highly dependent on her contractors and tradespeople, as their work is reflected in the overall projects, so it is important to also treat them with respect and help them in any way she can. Donaldson also believes a timely response to the builder is crucial, and she shared with us some ways in which she and her team excel at this. She also likes to ask them if they have preferred showrooms with which they do business, so they are all making selections from the same outlets.

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Donaldson also shared her tips for obtaining word-of-mouth referrals and how to work with architects without “stepping on any toes.” She also gave some insight on when it is time to hire more designers for your firm, which can depend on many things, including volume of work. She recommends always putting feelers out and keeping your ear to the ground as to who is available for hire.

In terms of her tips for rebranding, Donaldson suggests separating your personal name from the firm name since there are many more team members working on the projects. She also recommends updating your website often to keep up with the times.

The designer ended our conversation by offering her tips for product and material sourcing, including attending various trade shows and other industry events to stay abreast of new offerings. She also frequents flea markets in other countries for that added personal touch to her projects.

To learn more about Donaldson’s tips for building a legacy brand, listen to the podcast on SpotifyGoogle PodcastsApple PodcastsPandora and other outlets.

By Chelsie Butler, KBB Executive Editor

Photo credit: Clay Austin

Posted in: Podcasts

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