Irving hopes Bluecanoe fuels customer interest

"I think there's a little bit of a disconnect in a way that is actually a connection," he said. "It's like: 'Why would they call that Bluecanoe? Let me go check that out. I want to experience what that is.' "

The Globe and Mail
April 20, 2005

Irving hopes Bluecanoe fuels customer interest
Rebrands convenience stores to stand out
Keith McArthur

When Irving Oil Ltd. sought to rebrand its convenience store chain, it wanted something that would stand out from all the other chains with names that included Milk or Mart. The Saint John-based company will announce today that it is rebranding its 350 Mainway convenience stores under the unconventional name Bluecanoe.

"The world's full of 'Fast Lanes,' and 'Express Marts' and 'Speedy Stops' and so forth," said Tim Guen, Irving's senior manager of brands. "As you can appreciate from a marketing standpoint, creating a perception of difference is very important."

The Bluecanoe name was developed in conjunction with St. John's-based Target Marketing & Communications Inc., the company that came up with the Jazz and Tango brand names for two of Air Canada's airline brands.

Irving and Target considered more than 500 names and put dozens through a trademark search. Other names that were considered included Smiles and Blueberries.

"They were all kind of personality based," Mr. Guen said.

He said a key consideration in choosing the right name was finding one that people would remember easily. Market research had shown that most consumers couldn't remember the Mainway brand name, referring to the stores simply as Irving.

"The memorability is part of the rhyming lyrical nature of the name. It's fun to say and easy to remember," Mr. Guen said.

Andreas Doerig, account director at Target, said the Bluecanoe name works, in part, because it seems so unconnected to service station convenience stores.

"I think there's a little bit of a disconnect in a way that is actually a connection," he said.

"It's like: 'Why would they call that Bluecanoe? Let me go check that out. I want to experience what that is.' "

The new logo is inspired by the shape of a canoe as seen from above, with the Bluecanoe name inside. The brand's initial slogan will be "Fresh name. Fresh store." Mr. Guen said the brand will stand for fresh, clean and friendly.

The stores will also be redesigned and staff will be given more freedom to solve customer problems through creative thinking instead of relying on a manual, Mr. Guen said.

Irving also plans to expand Bluecanoe beyond its current geographical footprint in Atlantic Canada and the northeastern United States.

Mr. Guen said it was initially a challenge to persuade Irving's top executives to buy into the Bluecanoe name. "The interesting thing now is that the people who were most skeptical when we started to develop this are now the most enthusiastic," he said.


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