Swedish 7-Eleven wanted to have a different conversation with its customers, so BVD balanced comfort and convenience for an eye-catching design that won the HOW International Design Awards.
With a brand as ubiquitous as 7-Eleven, changing up the design elements can be detrimental to customer recognition. Factor in the desire to “class up” a traditionally low-brow product—what one might deem “gas station coffee”—and the stakes are especially high. Luckily, Swedish 7-Eleven entrusted the future of its brand to design firm BVD, whose “simplify to clarify” philosophy turned what could have been a conceptual nightmare into an award-winning project.
“7-Eleven is one of those brands that almost everyone is familiar with, so you don’t want to lose equity when updating the design,” says HOW International Design Awards judge Adam Ladd. “BVD did a great job leveraging the existing elements while clearly creating a modernized experience. The bold sans serif type and lines are very engaging, and I really enjoy the little touches in the numbers and letters (like the ‘ff’ ligature) to give it some distinction.”
When approaching the brand update, BVD focused on color as a means to transform a hectic store into a relaxing cafe-style atmosphere. “In a busy environment like this, we need to help the customer find what he needs in a very short period of time,” says senior designer Rikard Ahlberg. “The choices of colors, materials and details were made to balance a quick buying process with a comfortable coffee break.
“The use of color was, in a way, predefined. The green is the base color from the 7-Eleven identity and works well as a warm, friendly signal in the store environment,” he says. “It points out the counter as the central part of the store. The orange and red are also from the existing identity palette and are used as accent colors to bring life and activity to the green world.”
The dominant hue could have easily consumed the design, but the final color choice works hard to keep from engulfing the logo, signage and packaging. “This redesign takes a retro color palette and reinvents it in a modern way by limiting the use of the orange and red accents and allowing for plenty of white space,” says HOW International Design Awards judge Bridgid Agricola. “It sends a message that what you’ll find inside is the brand you know. I love to see a well-considered solution to something that so many people see every day. It reminds designers that even something ordinary can be elevated.”
Color was just one of the elements created to communicate a hip, urban space to consumers. BVD also implemented straightforward signage and vibrant packaging to help modernize the brand. “The main goal of the design is, of course, to help accomplish the change of customer perceptions,” Ahlberg says. “By using the profiling stripe pattern on identity carriers and in the store environment, we clarify the brand of Swedish 7-Eleven, and we move the brand toward a new strategic position.”
When bringing its vision to the client, Reitan Convenience Sweden AB, BVD struck gold with the initial concept. “The client really went for our first idea about using the stripes in the existing logo as a starting point and building the identity from there,” Ahlberg says. “They found our execution matched the repositioning, and as we understand, they really love it. As a brand, Swedish 7-Eleven is strengthening their position at retail and market shares are increasing in all categories.”
Reitan confirms the upswing in customer approval. “The objective was to revitalize our coffee brand in Sweden,” says marketing manager Richard Forsshéll. “We’d just performed new research for 7-Eleven in this country, and the insights were used to improve our coffee to start with. Now, customers take pride in showing our new coffee cups on the streets of Sweden, and that says it all. Our coffee sales are up after the rebrand.”
That’s not to say the project didn’t have its challenges. For one thing, BVD lamented not being able to control the project execution at retail, which included implementing the cups and signage in all the 7-Eleven stores in Sweden. Eventually, the rebrand will make its way into highway rest-stop locations as well. “Our client has done, and is doing, a great job to get the concept out there, but unfortunately, we haven’t been able to follow it all the way down to the nitty-gritty details,” Ahlberg says.
Despite this challenge, however, BVD successfully crafted an upscale new identity—without the exorbitant price tag—in approximately six months. “We gave them a specific budget, and they very much accomplished the goals for the project within our budget,” Forsshéll says. “We really like the way the coffee concept complements our stores and, at the same time, helps to communicate our brand in a more modern and up-to-date way in the stores as a whole.”
This feat is particularly noteworthy considering the project’s effectiveness and success with consumers. “The 7-Eleven project shows what can be done within space, time and budget constraints,” says HOW International Design Awards judge Melissa Mazzoleni. “Every element clearly conveyed the brand. It used the bold colors and a ’70s feel to elevate the consumer’s experience of stopping by the convenience store to get their morning cup o’ joe. This is a great project that infuses some fun into an ordinary experience and tries something new with a large and established brand.”
Title 7-Eleven Coffee Concept
Design firm BVD, Stockholm; www.bvd.se
Client Reitan Convenience Sweden AB
Don’t forget: Today’s the final day to enter the HOW Promotion & Marketing Design Awards. If you’d like to see your design in the September issue of HOW, get it in before midnight tonight.