In order to get customers into your store, they have to know what you’re all about. That’s what Marc Pons, owner of Chapel Hill Tire Co., has on his mind as he looks to remodel his stores in the Raleigh, North Carolina area.
“I think that Chapel Hill Tire has a great brand, and we don’t necessarily do the best at telling our story,” Pons said of his family’s 65-year-old business. “I want to be able to express that as best as I can to every customer who comes through door.”
To do that, he teamed up with Raleigh-based Provost Studio Interiors + Design, an experiential design firm that creates branded environments consistent with the message a retail space wants to communicate to customers.
For Marc, that means honing in on Chapel Hill’s tagline, “Easy Starts Here,” and building relationships with consumers from his in-store to online presence.
“The idea is that Chapel Hill Tire is bigger than just tires,” said Peter Provost, founder and president of Provost Studio. “It’s more about the service and less about the tire. In a way, it doesn’t go with the typical expectation of customers coming into Chapel Hill Tire. We try to challenge what their preconceived notion is.”
To do that, Provost and Stephanie Parrish, design director at the studio, are using marketing touch points in the furniture, architecture and graphics of Pons’ stores.
Their plans show customers walking into Chapel Hill Tire with a stainless steel service counter with the phrase “easy starts here” across it. In the store, they see a brand messaging wall with a stretched photo of the store in 1955 showing one of the shop’s service advisors working on a car. A letter from Pons and his brother detailing the shop’s history and mission is inscribed to the right of the photo.
The “showroom” area – sans tires – flows seamlessly into the waiting room with a variety of seating options: low, soft chairs and a sofa for a loungy feel in front of a TV; a business bar with charging ports for customers working remotely; and chairs tucked under tables for a cafe-type feel.
While Pons and the firm continue to work out details, Provost said it’s important to remember that creating a brand message isn’t just about the color and a bunch of logos.
“At the end of the day, it’s about content and messaging now,” he says. “The idea is that the content on the walls and how space is organized are all interrelated. Messaging and content is one thing that’s put into creating a place for people to come and drop down for 45-50 minutes and wait for their car to be done. It’s an important part of the experience.”