Circle K: A Mock Rebrand Concept

Circle K: A Mock Rebrand Concept​

Why are convenience stores in Asia so much better than in North America?

I’m not the only one who has noticed. There are a lot of posts on forums asking the question ‘why are 7 Elevens in North America so sketchy and uninviting, and so much better in Asia?’

It seems, in general, in Asia the food at 7 Eleven and Family Mart fresher, they use actual ground coffee, have a more diverse range of products, you can pay your utility bills, they have a wider variety of ready-to-go meals that people actually want to eat, they are cleaner, they offer places to comfortable sit and eat…

It seems the general consensus is they are better, but nobody seems to be answering the question of why they are better.

My wife and I believe it has to do with population density, which is often greater in Asia than in many cities in North America, which can therefore support these fresh foods and ready-to-go meals.

Inspired by my trip to Taiwan where convenience stores are 10x better than in Vancouver – I wanted to take a creative approach to Circle K.

Circle K is due for a brand refresh in my opinion as their current logo and colours are giving off strong Super Mario vibes (and not in a good way).

Just take a look at the side by side comparison.

Circle K Logo Rebrand

If we disconnect a piece from the circle in the exact opposite spot where the bottom leg of the K extends, I think it can be a nice backward C.

I’ve also rounded all the edges, including the font.

Take a look at this ad mockup as you can see the font and logo stylized differently.

Circle K Rebrand Coffee

I used an oversized K logo on the coffee cups, which I think looks pretty awesome.

As seen in this banner mockup, this would be an example of how I would redesign all their banners to be minimal and clean.

The other obvious change is that I changed the colours to a black on dark seafoam, which I think is much cleaner and would stand out.

If this were a real brand redesign pitch, I would mockup different colour options, including their current branded colours.

I think the logo is close enough where they may go for it, but to have such a drastic departure from their brand colours would likely be too radical of a change. That would be my guess.

Nevertheless, this was a fun exercise, so I went with it. My original concept was actually yellow and black, but I thought perhaps it looked too much like Shell Gas.

Looking at the above mockup, I added an additional bubble branding element, which ties in nicely with the logo and can be used on packaging and signage.

At night, the green would light up and look really cool.

Total time = I spent about an hour on this, from concept to finished product so it may need so refinement. Just made it for a fun post. 😊

Of course, branding is more than logos, fonts, colours, and design. If I were to actually overhaul Circle K’s branding, I would borrow more ideas from 7-Eleven and Family Mart in Taiwan and completely change the customer experience. 

Circle K's New Brand Strategy

Are consumers brand agnostic when it comes to gas stations / convenience? Afterall, fuel and snacks are commodities, and therefore all basically the same, right? Perhaps you go to the one that’s convenient or the cheapest, perhaps the one where you collect points, and so on.

While this is true for some consumers, I know plenty of people who are loyal to one brand over another. But why? I suspect it’s human nature to join tribes.

While this is true for clothing and car brands, it is also true for gas companies.

So what would it look like if a gas company / convenience store invested more into their branding? I think the lane is wide open for a market leader in this category.

But first, what is branding?

Branding is the process of creating a unique and identifiable image, name, symbol, or design that distinguishes a product, service, or company from its competitors in the minds of consumers. It involves shaping and managing the perception and reputation of a brand to convey its values, qualities, and personality to the target audience, with the ultimate goal of building customer loyalty and trust.

Effective branding can significantly influence consumer choices and can lead to increased recognition, customer loyalty, and long-term success for businesses.

What would I do if I were hired as a brand consultant for Circle K or some other gas company / convenience store?

I would first identify my target customers then do a The Valuegraphics Research Company study to figure out what each segment values.

Suppose for our example, the values that are strong are:

  • family
  • independence
  • community

These themes would echo throughout everything we do.

👉 I would create a series video ads that tell stories.

  • A young couple buying their first car, moving into their first home, driving to the hospital and giving birth.
  • A kid going off to college, the family is sad, everyone is outside in front of the house and the parent tosses the child a set of keys to their new car. The child is overwhelmed with gratitude, emotional, and gives the parent a big hug.
  • A group of college friends going on a road trip, excited, they stop at the gas station to get gas and snacks, one of the kids returns to the car and presents his girlfriend with a ring pop and slips it on her finger. They both look at each other in a heartfelt way.

At the end, the voiceover comes on (think old man with some texture to his voice). “Wherever the road takes you, we’ll help you get there.”

👉 Next, I would remodel all the convenience stores associated with the gas stations to be really clean and nice – think Starbucks Reserve. I would drastically reduce the amount of junk that are typically sold in those stores and offer quality options. I may even do a coffee shop with a barista.

👉 I would also have exclusive toys for the kids – you could do a licensing deal with Disney or Marvel. So every time you fill up, you can get a toy for the kiddo – a little action figure or stuffy.

👉 I would redo all the brand colours, logo, uniforms, signage, pumps… everything would get a complete overhaul.

👉 I would bring back full service where our staff greet you, pump your gas, clean your windows, check your fluids. I would pay the staff well and have lots of perks so they take pride in their job and think of the customer first.

👉 Of course, I would still have an amazing loyalty program, which not only gives you points, but you are entered into a draw to win free gas for a year. This prize would be drawn every month and the winners would be notified on the app.

👉 I would also sponsor kids’ sporting teams, events, and charities that align with my customers’ values, i.e. offer scholarships for under privileged youth.

👉 7 Eleven and Family Mart in Taiwan are everywhere. I would take that approach with Circle K. I would aggressively open up locations on practically every block in every city in North America, and not just the big cities, but the small cities and towns as well. While travelling in Taiwan, we when to some very remote parts, but there was always a 7 Eleven or Family Mart within a 5 minute walk.

👉 As mentioned, in Taiwan, 7 Eleven and Family Mart are clean, have a more diverse range of products, you can pay your utility bills, they have a wider variety of ready-to-go meals that people actually want to eat, they are cleaner, they offer places to comfortable sit and eat… in North America, there is an element of danger whenever you go to a & Eleven, especially at night, but even in broad daylight. We have a huge homelessness and drug problem in our countries that doesn’t seem to exist here in Taiwan. So that’s part of it. There are no lingering people doing drugs and begging for spare change and smokes out here.

Any way, considering the few minutes I spent on this post describing some branding changes I would consider, you can see how a brand starts to take shape. Comparing this brand approach to any other gas station, it seems clear to me which one I would choose.

What do you think, did I improve it, or do you prefer the original?

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