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HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Known on the Hawaiian island as an iconic fuel brand, Aloha Petroleum knew it needed to refresh its more than 40 convenience stores to strengthen its position in the market. The brand has been around since 1907, but was known more for its fuel than its stores. The company wanted to change that image.
"We want our Aloha Island Mart stores to be a destination, not just an afterthought," said Larry Adams, director of sales and marketing at Aloha Petroleum.
After creating a new logo for its proprietary fuel card in 2007, Aloha decided to base its redesign and new company logo on this image and began its refresh by implementing the new look at the forecourt. By November 2010, the first prototype of the new Aloha Island Mart debuted.
"We started at the forecourt to signal to the market that something was changing with our brand. Our old image was tired and didn't make much of a statement in the market," Adams explained. "We wanted to rethink how we positioned ourselves as a brand and wanted to let customers know we are just as serious with our store offerings as we are about fuel."
The company also changed the name of its stores from Island Mini Mart to Aloha Island Mart, following a series of focus groups to determine what customers were looking for from the brand and what Aloha needed to provide the community. The goal was to become a leading Hawaiian company that understands the local market, listens to its customers and cares about the community, according to Adams.
Aloha is now acting on a five-year, $20-million plan to upgrade all of its stores to the new image, and so far, construction on five out of its 42-company operated stores is complete. The company is also using the new design for any acquired stores. As of press time, Aloha was evaluating three locations for possible purchase, Gary Altman, general manager of the company-operated stores told CSNews Online.
"This whole new imaging and branding gives us a launching pad for the future," Adams said. "We think it strengthens the brand and stands out in the market, and we have even had our competitors tell us that."
The idea for the new logo started with the redesign of the company's proprietary fuel card in 2007. Aloha wanted to create a new image that would symbolize the sun, energy and waves -- all the things seen and associated with the island of Hawaii. At the time, they had no idea it would carry over into the entire redesign of the company's logo and stores, which was done by CBX, a branding and retail design consultancy.
"When our architecture firm started working with us, they saw the credit card design and decided to move toward incorporating it into the company logo and convenience store design," Adams said. "We call it a blue wave image, even though it's a stylized 'A' for Aloha."
The company liked the way it looked and incorporated the colors into the building exterior, canopy and interior. Every customer touchpoint -- anywhere they see, hear or interact with Aloha -- now features the new design, from the retail interior and exterior to the fuel trucks and company credit card statement.
Aloha's flagship prototype store is in Kahala, and was a total rebuild from the ground up. Previously, the company only used 750 square feet of the property for the c-store, but when they bulldozed this site, the new store became 3,000 square feet. It opened in mid-June in the Honolulu suburb.
Due to space limitations, however, the majority of locations will use the existing building and walls and then incorporate the new design into it, Altman said.
"No matter what size, we will have consistent offerings at all of our stores because we want to deliver consistency to the customer and meet their expectations," Adams added.
The exterior of the building features horizontal wood siding and a modified double-pitched roof to reflect the surrounding architecture found on the Hawaiian Islands. There is also a floor-to-ceiling glass entrance to present a warm and open feel with natural light, as well as project a safe environment for customers and employees. The company also wanted merchandising visibility so passing traffic and people fueling could see what the stores are offering, said Altman.
The new design continues inside the store, where the stylized "A" logo repeats on green wallpaper, calling attention to the foodservice section. The overall placement of shelving and aisles changed to create an open feel. Now, refrigerated cases offer fresh food, while dark brown gondolas feature basic pantry offerings. Additionally, the sales counter moved from the front near the entrance to the center of the store.
"We moved the sales counter so when the customer walks in, the store seems more spacious and open," Altman explained. "Also, they have to walk past our beverages and fresh food to get there, so it exposes them to what we offer."