Rebranding a neighbourhood retailer from the inside out
- Brand Strategy
- Brand Identity
- Tone of Voice
- Store design
- 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.
UNLOCKING INTIMACY TO DRIVE VALUE
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
EMBRACING A DISTINCTIVELY PERSONAL IDENTITY
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
DISTINCTIVE RELATABLE PERSONALITY
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.
OWNING A DISRUPTIVE SHAPE
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.
HERITAGE MADE RELEVANT
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