Branding Website • Integrated MarketingGraphic Design & Video

Appalachian Bluegrass

Building the Ultimate Musical Destination for the Modern & Traditional Player

The Client

For our 60 yeas, the family-owned Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe located in Catonsville, MD (also known as Music City, Maryland) has been serving the local music community with top-quality instruments, world-class service, professional music instruction, extensive community engagement, and sponsorships.

Though ABG originally focused on acoustic stringed instruments, they’ve expanded to include electric and percussion instruments, catering to a diverse customer base. The challenge lay in crafting messaging that honors their heritage while also embracing their aspiration for modernization.

The Challenge

To compete with big-box music retailers, and to keep their iconic brand top-of-mind locally, ABG needed to refresh their visual brand, develop a modern e-commerce website, and reboot their email marketing strategy.

ABG confronted a multifaceted challenge that required a comprehensive overhaul of every aspect of their business operations. From revamping their inventory system to modernizing their point-of-purchase processes, from reimagining their marketing strategies to enhancing their social media presence, every facet of ABG’s operations needed attention. Recognizing these challenges, Pugh & Tiller provided tailored solutions and expert consultations to guide ABG through their reinvention.

The Solution


ABG’s transformation from the local Appalachian Bluegrass shop to a global musical hub demanded a message that celebrated their past while embracing their future. Pugh & Tiller worked with ABG to uncover the essence of ABG’s brand, recognizing the significance of their iconic name and their legendary brick-and-mortar store — a pilgrimage site for musicians worldwide. With precision, the firm crafted a tagline that embodies ABG’s essence:

“Quality Instruments from Appalachian Bluegrass:
The Ultimate Musical Destination for Traditional and Modern Players.”

This tagline not only reflects ABG’s commitment to excellence but also promises an immersive digital experience reminiscent of their legendary physical store. It’s more than a slogan; it’s an invitation to a musical place that transcends genres and captivates diverse audiences.

Building upon this foundation, we also crafted supporting copy for ABG’s website, SEO efforts, and other marketing and branding touchpoints, ensuring a cohesive and compelling brand presence across all channels.

Visual Branding

Their existing logo from the late ’90s featured typefaces and vector images typical with the trends of the era and was in need of an update to increase readability and fit modern web and marketing applications.

Pugh & Tiller designed a clean typographical solution combined with a subtle graphic of two gauges of instrument string — the heavier representing guitars, basses and percussion, and the lighter representing banjos, mandolins, fiddles and electric instruments.

The color palette, featuring shades of blue (chosen for their namesake), gold, dark red, and two variations of brown, mirrors the hues found in instrument hardware and the rich tone woods used in quality acoustic and electric instruments.

E-Commerce Website

ABG sought a user-friendly website that not only showcased their extensive inventory but also effectively conveyed the personality, values, and rich history. Crucially, the design needed to create a welcoming atmosphere, encouraging visitors to explore at leisure, mirroring the experience of being in the actual store.

Pugh & Tiller successfully crafted and launched a responsive website, seamlessly integrating a storefront, payment gateway, and various lead-capture and contact opportunities. Through the inclusion of images capturing the essence of the store, its owners, and its staff (photographed by and Pugh & Tiller), as well as engaging copy highlighting the store’s rich history, the website began to exude a comforting sense of familiarity and family, akin to being right there in the shop.

So amazing that I almost got choked up. The lessons and repair package images look like they’re straight out of Fretboard Journal. The pictures are amazing, the navigation is amazing... it is exactly what your store is all about. It’s honestly better than the majority of sites out there.

Aaron DablowTaylor Guitars

Product Imagery

To ensure a uniform aesthetic across the entire website, ABG sought to create their own product images rather than relying on those provided by manufacturers.

To accomplish this both for the website launch and for future needs, Pugh & Tiller set up an in-store photo studio equipped with a retractable backdrop and multi-point lighting. They meticulously captured images of their extensive inventory, including guitars, mandolins, banjos, dobros, and more, resulting in over 400 high-quality photographs.

Product Videos & In-Store Performances

Pugh & Tiller collaborated with ABG’s in-house salesmen to produce video reviews spotlighting the latest additions to ABG’s inventory. These videos were filmed live in-store and shared on product pages and social media platforms.

Additionally, as part of a strategy to boost foot traffic and enhance social media engagement, Pugh & Tiller partnered with ABG to host and record in-store performances, styled after the popular ‘Tiny Desk’ series, featuring both touring acts and local favorites.

All videos showcase an audio logo which was composed, performed, and produced by Pugh & Tiller.

A Foundation for Email Marketing

A standout feature of ABG’s new website is the prominent invitation to join the ABG email list, now rebranded as ‘Emory’s Email Club.’ This revitalized initiative included dynamic pop-up sign-up boxes strategically placed throughout the site, enticing visitors with an appealing discount offer for their next in-store purchase, concert tickets, and other exclusive giveaways.

As part of this initiative, Pugh & Tiller undertook the migration of ABG’s email list to a new CRM system. This transition allowed smoother management of their growing subscriber base and also facilitated enhanced segmentation and personalized communication. In tandem, the firm also developed fresh email templates, reflecting the updated brand identity and providing a more visually engaging experience for recipients. Additionally, a new multi-stage welcome series was implemented, allowing ABG to nurture new subscribers and guide them seamlessly into the ABG community.

The Results

After the launch of their refreshed visual brand, new website, and revamped email marketing strategy, ABG experienced an immediate surge in sales, with revenue surpassing the initial project budget.

Moreover, within the first six months post-launch, ABG witnessed a remarkable increase in web traffic, soaring by over 500%. This surge not only expanded their digital footprint but also brought hundreds of new names to their email list, fostering a deeper connection with their audience.

The ripple effect extended beyond the digital realm, as ABG’s physical store saw a significant uptick in foot traffic and repair shop appointments. Notably, the introduction of in-store concerts played a pivotal role in driving both online engagement and foot traffic. These immersive musical experiences not only captivated local audiences but also resonated with online followers, further amplifying ABG’s brand presence and community engagement.

Furthermore, the meticulously crafted design and imagery of ABG’s website, coupled with its intuitive user experience, garnered widespread acclaim from major instrument manufacturers, cementing ABG’s reputation as a trailblazer in music retail.

Pugh & Tiller gave us a very classy and professional website. They delivered everything they promised in a timely manner. We have received many wonderful compliments from our vendors and customers — we highly recommend their services.

C. KnodeOwner, Appalachian Bluegrass