Recently, the owners of six Midas service shops in southern Maine decided to leave the Midas franchise and become independent auto service shops. They came to Visible Logic looking for branding help including the name, logo, web site and marketing materials.
We started the branding process by getting a better understanding of what the owners hoped to change by converting their six locations to locally owned shops. They had a great team of employees and they knew many of their customers valued these relationships more than the Midas name. There was the risk that prospects would have trouble finding or trusting a smaller shop. However, Buy Local is a very strong sentiment in the state of Maine and there seemed to be great value in becoming a local brand.
We started by figuring out the name. We considered some very straightforward names as well as some that tried to push the Maine brand a bit more. For example, on the short list we considered “Maine Guys Auto Service”.
After researching the domain names available as well as analyzing the search opportunities, we all agreed that a very SEO-focused name would drive the most benefit. People search a lot around the terms Auto Service Maine and it would be valuable to be able to scoop up that web traffic.
The logo shape
The owners of these previous Midas outlets gave us a specific challenge. They requested that the logo be the same shape as the Midas logo because they had a lot of expensive housing for their existing signs. There was no credible reason to avoid an oval-shaped logo, so that became a baseline criteria for the design.
A connection to the Midas logo
As new independent stores running out of previous Midas locations, there were reasons to graphically tie the new brand to the old. We had to find the balance between making a connection with Midas while still creating a unique look and feel that could differentiate Maine Auto Service from Midas as well as all of the other competitors in the area.
The logo design
The logo design successfully puts a new spin on the oval logo shape while still harkening back to the Midas logo with the hint of the road. Originally, we considered a more yellow background but “the lawyers” suggested it was too close to Midas. Personally, I think the orange color has a great pop! and I love it.
Printed materials extend the brand
A logo is good, but a complete brand identity is better. As we started to market the new business, we extended the brand identity out beyond the logo. This included incorporating the tagline “Your Road to Maine Value”. We also introduced the secondary blue color and started using the road in perspective as a graphic element separate from the logo. Printed materials included postcards, business cards and forms.
Web site design
For the web site, we tried hard to create a web design that demonstrated the quality and care that stood behind the Maine Auto Service name. The web sites of many of their competitors were filled with flashing gifs and outdated designed. They tended to blast “low prices” in your face.
We continued the Maine Auto Service brand onto the web site by selecting black and white photos in addition to the other brand elements. The user interface focused on helping customers find a location easily. The site offers coupons and online booking of appointments. The site is built in WordPress with a custom-designed theme. We paid particular attention to maximizing the SEO benefits by how we created title tags, H1 tags and custom meta descriptions.
You can see the site live at www.maineautoservice.com and you’ll see the background image as well as some of the other callouts change with the season.
We created a mobile-optimized version of the site, too. The primary functionality would be for customers to find locations and book appointments using a smartphone.
For a retail business, signage inside and out is critical. It serves as a focus branding point, but also conveys key information to customers. Maine Auto Service is slowly repainting their buildings to the new corporate colors of blue and orange. You can see the large-scale oval signs at the top. We also created internal signs for their waiting rooms and service desk.
Full caveat, after working with the business partners, they are now the mechanic for my own car and have done a great job. We wish them luck as they turn their former national franchise operation in a fully, locally-owned auto service centers.