Rebranding a neighbourhood retailer from the inside out

  • Brand Strategy
  • Brand Identity
  • Design
  • Messaging
  • Tone of Voice
  • Store design
  • Illustration
  • Uniform and launch collateral

McColl’s was los­ing bas­ket share against strong com­pe­ti­tion. With a net­work of 1,265 con­ve­nience stores and newsagents, 60% of McColl’s cus­tomers lived with­in 400m of their local store, fos­ter­ing a gen­uine friend­li­ness between staff and cus­tomers. One cus­tomer put it best say­ing, I feel like some­body at McColl’s, I’m nobody at Tescos.” This warmth, how­ev­er, was­n’t reflect­ed in a brand expe­ri­ence that felt dat­ed and lacked real engagement.

By refram­ing the cat­e­go­ry in a more emo­tion­al­ly pow­er­ful way – going from local’ (which is about prox­im­i­ty), to neigh­bourly’ – our strat­e­gy lever­aged inti­ma­cy as a core brand dif­fer­en­tia­tor. Own­ing the rich emo­tion­al ter­ri­to­ry of inti­mate neigh­bour’ rein­vig­o­rat­ed every­thing from the staff expe­ri­ence to store seg­men­ta­tion, and prod­uct pro­mo­tion. Best of all we were able to join the dots with the brand’s her­itage mak­ing it feel rel­e­vant again and a key part of the brand’s future.


Our new propo­si­tion, Your big-heart­ed store next door’ inex­tri­ca­bly linked the con­sumer-fac­ing aspects of the brand and the inter­nal cul­ture. As staff were already liv­ing and breath­ing it, that ethos nat­u­ral­ly radi­at­ed out to customers.

Reimag­ing the brand’s pil­lars and expe­ri­ence through the lens of inti­ma­cy, served as a spring­board for tan­gi­ble change in every­thing, from new store seg­men­ta­tion to lay­out, pric­ing to pro­mo­tion strategy.

ODA bril­liant­ly unlocked the her­itage of the brand cre­at­ing a fresh, warm and engag­ing iden­ti­ty encom­pass­ing the com­plete cus­tomer journey.”

Tim Fairs Customer Director


Although the McColl’s brand felt anony­mous, its ori­gins come from a real per­son­al­i­ty – Robert Tof­fee Bob’ McColl, a Scot­tish foot­ball super­star who start­ed the brand in 1901. To ampli­fy the famil­iar­i­ty and human touch, we reimag­ined the orig­i­nal logo­type and redrew it based on Tof­fee Bob’s orig­i­nal signature.

The iconic 'M' now hugs the 'c' in a manner suggesting how McColl’s hugs the local community. The rounded letter and tight spacing magnifies intimacy with a friendly feel. We even added a subtle leaf shape in the apostrophe to communicate a new fresh vision.

The signoff captures both McColl’s heritage as a newsagent selling dailies, and the role its staff play for the neighbourhood. Brightening Daily Life since 1901


We deployed a lit­tle light-heart­ed ban­ter and lib­er­al use of col­lo­qui­al tone, both in com­mu­ni­ca­tions at HQ and in store – from pro­mo­tions to lit­tle shelf lev­el reminders to pur­chase. Even cor­po­rate mes­sag­ing about the team was deliv­ered in this con­vivial, cheer­ful sig­na­ture style.


Tone was a key dif­fer­en­tia­tor. We com­mis­sioned a friend­ly-feel­ing, instant­ly recog­nis­able house font designed along­side the logo­type. A sec­ond font, for use in-store to com­mu­ni­cate price, is an homage to Robert McColl’s foot­balling leg­end – rem­i­nis­cent of num­bers found on retro foot­ball shirts.


The speech bub­ble shape formed from the brand word­mark serves as a vehi­cle to ampli­fy inti­ma­cy and chat­ti­ness whilst also dis­rupt­ing in-store. It works as direc­tion­al sig­nage at a high lev­el, is con­ver­sa­tion­al at eye lev­el and serves at buy-lev­el as a ticket.


To bring fun and light­ness to the iden­ti­ty we com­mis­sioned a set of car­toons from a renowned tabloid car­toon­ist — a nod to the brand’s her­itage as a newsagent. 

The team are a joy to work with, incred­i­bly tal­ent­ed but always adopt a prag­mat­ic approach from start to finish.

Tim Fairs Customer Director