Mainway Becomes Bluecanoe

Irving hopes radical rebrand helps its c-stores stand out

SAINT JOHN, N.B. --Irving Oil has unveiled a new convenience retail brand called Bluecanoe. Introducing the new tag line, "fresh name, fresh store," the stores will feature gourmet coffee, fresh bakery items and premium, made-to-order deli offerings. Approximately 100 Irving Mainway stores throughout the company's marketing regionAtlantic Canada, New Hampshire, and Mainewill receive the new look and enhanced product offerings in 2005.

"We believe our Bluecanoe stores will create an exciting and memorable shopping experience for our customerswith the [image-nocss] offering of premium, fresh foods; a clean and friendly environment; superior care from people; and, of course, our trademark exceptionally clean washrooms, said Harry Hadiaris, Irving's director of convenience retail.

"We're continuing to evolve our product offerings, responding to our customers interest in items like fresh fruit and made-to-order deli items such as our protein salad lunch pack, and low-carb wraps," he said. "We are very excited by results from our test sites, where we've been testing this concept for the past 18 months. The sites have proven that the Bluecanoe concept appeals to a broader family audience."

Bluecanoe stores will be visually appealing, with a contemporary and friendly feel, Hadiaris added. The new Bluecanoe logo will be incorporated into the front fa aade and the newly designed pylon sign in front of the store. Customers will also notice changes where they purchase gasoline, with newly designed gas pump elements and pump graphics, focused lighting and new bright white coverings for the ceilings and the columns.

"We recognize that people will be wondering, 'what does the name Bluecanoe mean?'," said Tim Guen, senior brand manager for Irving. "We wanted to find a name that distinguishes our company from our competition and supports our personality. We believe the store evokes wholesome and environmentally friendly characteristics and promotes an active lifestyle."

Guen told The Globe & Mail in a separate report, The world is full of Fast Lanes' and Express Marts' and Speedy Stops' and so forth. From a marketing standpoint, creating a perception of difference is very important.

The Bluecanoe name was developed with St. Johns-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, the report said. 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, 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 could not 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, said Guen.

Andreas Doerig, account director at Target, said the Bluecanoe name works, in part, because it seems so unconnected to gas station c-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 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, Gruen said.

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

Founded in 1924, Irving Oil was the first gasoline retailer in Canada to begin combining their fuel offerings with convenience stores, it said. Originally called Maritime Product Bars in the 1950s and 60s, the stores were converted to Mari-marts in the 1970s. As Irving's network grew through acquisitions and new site development, the stores were eventually branded as Mainway in both Atlantic Canada and New England, where the company expanded in 1972.

Saint John, New Brunswick-based Irving Oil serves customers in Eastern Canada, Quebec, and New England with a range of finished energy products, including gasoline, diesel, home heating fuel, jet fuel and complementary products and services.

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