• Lowe's—Kobalt Tools—Strategy, Design, Implementation
  • Creating a Visual Brand Language
  • Storage Case and NASCAR Promotional Coach

Kobalt Tools


Set the standard for mechanics tools at retail


Consumer Research
Brand Strategy
Naming + Branding
Industrial Design
Design Guidelines
Brand Management

The Big Idea

The executive team at Lowe’s saw a gap—a major chasm in the hand tool marketplace. Weekend mechanics, guys working on their cars at home, bought the Craftsman brand at Sears. Professional mechanics purchased brands like Snap-On and Matco from mobile tool trucks. The gap in price and availability between Craftsman and Snap-On was huge. Weekend mechanics aspired to something better. Lowe’s had a vision to bring the best mechanics tools available to retail. They hired BOLTgroup to develop the strategy and realize it to the market.

The Complete Strategy

With product innovation being a key pillar of the brand, the line needed to set the standard in mechanics tools at its launch. Every touch point of the brand—from the industrial design of the products, to the identity system, to the packaging and visual merchandising—had to represent the brand as the finest mechanics tools available at retail. BOLTgroup conducted months of quantitative and qualitative research to determine the best brand positioning, product design features, and identity elements for the aspirational mechanic. An integrated product + brand strategy was conceived, and Kobalt Tools was born.

The Unprecedented Success

Once we defined the strategy and positioning we created the complete in-store presence—the Kobalt name, identity design, product design, packaging, merchandising, and graphic design guidelines. The brand was designed to look of the highest quality, with hints of Swiss or German heritage, as if it had been around for years. After establishing the in-store presentation, we took to winning the hearts and minds of consumers outside the store. Taking the role of brand manager, we placed Kobalt tools in the hands of trade magazine editors, celebrities, and mechanics, giving the brand word-of-mouth buzz, and high levels of awareness and respect. Today Kobalt is a multi-hundred million-dollar brand—the most successful proprietary brand in the store.

Process Examples
(Click Images to Enlarge)

Name, Logo + Tagline Name, Logo + Tagline
Tool Prototypes Tool Prototypes
NASCAR Marketing Strategy and Uniform Design NASCAR Marketing Strategy and Uniform Design