The Retail Merchants Association of British Columbia was transforming itself. Their business research team had identified emerging trends that they deemed critical to address: disintegrating brand loyalty, growth in low-end and high-end niche retail, and a significant drop in the number of traditional middle range operations. They needed to truly connect with increasingly tech-savvy retailers, and lead sustainability policy efforts and education for their membership.
And there was also the upcoming merger with Retail Alberta. Retail BC would no longer be a useful name.
We were surprised to learn that despite the big bold logo, and the core team's efforts to consistently refer to themselves as Retail BC, they were constantly misidentified in the press and referred to in many different ways such as BC Retail and Association of BC Retailers Maybe they weren't projecting their professional authority…
For this project, I formulated core brand characteristics and naming criteria into two visuals:
We used these to facilitate all of our conversations and guide our work. They also proved valuable when we had to contend with some isolated member challenges after the association's board had approved the new name.
At E-Cubed, we weren't interested in names manufactured by algorithms, instead we wanted ideas invented by people. After generating over 150 possibilities (some absurdly whimsical like Golden Egg, some clever like SKU – Shop Keepers Union/Stock Keeping Unit), we winnowed down the field to a likely 12. Intense discussion with the association team followed. In the end, Shelfspace was chosen (though I did make strong cases for Bazaar and SKU).
Shelfspace hits almost all the 7 points on the namecube, and also expressed a majority of desirable traits that had been defined earlier as we worked with the client on the brand platform including some crucial Personality traits such as "… professional, well spoken, and unique…panache and flair…"
Associations don’t usually name themselves this way. But we do. The phrase “shelf space” is a common measure in retail where products are displayed for customers. Shelves are a fundamental component for retailing, so much so that even in the virtual world the concept is perfectly understood. Space, where people congregate, a shared place of imagination or an actual physical location – it’s where things happen.
Shelfspace is professionally managed and member driven epicentre for retail activity, issues, services and information.
With the name selected, I set about exploring options for a logo and the basis for brand identity.
Set in clear prominent type, the name is evokes stature and professionalism. It’s modern and fresh without being trendy. The barcode above the name refers to the UPC mark typical of retail packaging and also refers to the diversity of membership and the plethora of their offerings and efforts. The diversity of colours, the clarity of type, and the notion of the barcode combine to provide clear distinction from other associations as well.
In conjunction with E-Cubed's development team we designed a new website, core stationery pieces, as well as also Retail Connections the association's trade publications.
We have reassessed how our industry views us. We have imagined how we view ourselves and what we can be. We are diverse people, imaginative, entrepreneurial, and original. This means our membership spans a wide range of age, experience, ethnic background and pursuit, but we share one common goal: Retail Excellence.
Our new name and visual identity speak to our membership, prospective members and the world at large.