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Rebranding Fort Street Cycle

20 Jul
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Even their Google Street View was unlucky

It has been a rough first year for the new owners of Fort Street Cycle.

Bad energy left over from an unpopular ownership transition was sucking the life – and at one point, nearly every staff member – out of the shop. The new owners, from Beijing, were in crisis management from the get-go and wondering how they could survive. They decided they needed to start fresh. Well, fresher.

Brand Intervention.pngThis is where the Brand Intervention happens. (This is the icon that says that’s happening.)

I started with some online surveys to existing customers and non-customers to determine attitudes towards the store, and its perceived strengths and weaknesses. This was the key starting point for the rebrand because it told us that there was indeed some bad juju out there about the store – but no respondents had a clear sense why they felt that way.

It also told us that the brand really wasn’t on anyone’s radar and was considered past its day.

So there was no damage here.  But there was a lack of clarity about the store. The lack of clarity came from a lack of a vision, and a lack of  noise in the market. But we could fix those.

ROLLING UP SLEEVES, FINDING A VISION

An analysis of the business, it’s core service and product offerings, and the opportunities in the market, indicated that we could chase the negative spirit away with a big, positive step forward. The store itself was in excellent shape: a good service reputation, a well-known location on Fort, and fantastic bikes: Cannondale, Cervelo and Giant, all high-end machines.

It just needed a focused brand strategy, and a look to pull it off.

The shop’s focus on placing service and proper fitting before bike sales pointed in the right direction, but we needed something bigger.

As luck would have it, the main competitive stores (Oak Bay Bicycles, Russ Hay’s, Trek and Broad Street Cycles) all referred to themselves as “bike shops” in their positioning lines. This created the opportunity.

WHERE CYCLING LIVES

Fort Street Cycle would no longer be just a bike shop. It would be about cycling: where the rider and the bike come together to create the magic. The store would be all about that. A place for cyclists to gather, to read cycle mags and drink coffee, to be professionally fitted, to watch live races on the TV, to post messages about stolen bikes, to find the latest gear to wear, to test ride new models, to talk cycling. Not a hardware store for machines, but  a place for people, something their “service-first” way of working already beautifully supported.

Hence the new tagline: Where Cycling Lives.

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As the brand strategy and visual look were being created, the store went on a serious hiring spree. Using both online ads and networking, there were soon ten passionate cyclists on the store’s staff roster. A mix of road and mountain cyclists, elite competitors and everyday grinders, they embraced the new brand direction and shouldered the tasks involved in bringing it to life.

DON’T KILL THE OLD LOGO. JUST REMAKE IT.

Even though the store’s reputation had suffered in recent years, it was still an established brand with a history. We wanted to respect that by evolving the business, both the name and the logo. Enter long-time collaborator Michael Tension, who delivered a modern and impactful updating of the previous logo, along with an inspired palette of supporting colours to carry it. The name was shortened to Fort St Cycle, because it felt friendlier, and doing so created the space that allowed the name to be on one line in the logo, rather than stacked.

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The old….and the new. Urban Sign behind the new one.

The store had been quiet in Victoria for years and was poorly connected to both the cycling community and the businesses along Fort St.

To help improve that, we gave the staff tools to build new relationships, from branded work gear to highly personalized business cards (the photo is of the staff member, and they chose their own quote and colour) – neither of which the store had ever provided. Then we crafted marketing and social media strategies to slowly build back their audience.

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Service Manager, Russ Parks in his new gear

BUSINESS CARDS

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Michael Tension cards: folded and white on the inside for notes

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Once all the branded pieces were ready, Derek Ford did his usual exceptional job capturing the team spirit in photos. And then it was on to a welcoming Open House to let the market know Fort St Cycle was alive and kicking!

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Megan Munro poster

To promote the event and get rid of some pesky old branded water bottles, the staff rolled up invitations into the old bottles and left them in bikes with empty water bottle holders all over downtown.

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Message in a bottle campaign

The Open House saw a good crowd, and the positive buzz energized everyone and helped to exorcise the ghosts of the old brand.

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Open House July 12

A new website from Leap is on the way, jerseys are being printed and a store renovation is planned for late fall. The store also has plans to lead a cycling tour to the Great Wall in China this year. More details on that coming up soon!  Until then, drop by the store and talk cycling: these guys know their stuff.

And ask for one of those cool new business cards!

 

 

 

Are you killing your customers with Christmas?

3 Nov

Jim Carrey as Scrooge

Successful brands focus on customer experience.

Anyone who has ever shopped the day after Halloween (and sometimes before, egads) knows that this cool logic goes out the window for two months every year.

In the pre-Christmas panic to make the numbers, many retailers foist Christmas on their customers in a very undignified, and un-seasonal, manner several months before the holiday.

Which brings us to Shoppers Drug Mart.

As a customer, I can tell you that hearing Christmas carols piping through store speakers on November 1st is a profoundly grating experience that turns me into the ultimate Scrooge. I have ranted about this in the past (albeit it in rhyming couplets!).

Lo and behold, other Shoppers customers agree. Thousands of them, according to their Facebook page.

Which is why Shoppers has bowed to public pressure and killed Jingle Bells and Good King Wenceslas until later in the year. Bravo.

Even though I enjoy, in a sporting way, shouting “Merry Christmas!” to the cashiers as I enter and leave in early November, my sense of the season is always somewhat diminished.

The Brand Interventionist Recommends

Listening to your customers when they speak to you. This exercise alone should be screaming ROI OF SOCIAL MEDIA to Shoppers – and any other retail business that is paying attention.

Be proactive in asking for your customers’ opinions. Don’t sit back and wait to hear they hate something you’re doing. Use your social channels to seek regular feedback. Thar’s gold in them thar comments! (According to Shoppers, they had “no idea” Christmas music was an issue for their customers two months in advance of the holiday. You are right to ask how the effin hell that’s possible.)

To find out the appropriate time to baste their customers with Christmas, retail stores should put a up poll like this one on their Facebook pages. They get great intel, which they can use to improve customer experience, and they show they care about that. Boom.

 

Amy C. Amy Do.

Amy fall down.

Son of the Morning Light

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