Global brand agency CBX will help Friendly Express update the design and branding of its 42-store network of community-focused convenience stores in southeast Georgia.
“Friendly Express, which has been in business for more than 25 years, is known for its strong commitment to the communities it serves,” said Joseph Bona, president of Branded Environments at CBX, which has extensive experience in the energy and convenience store channel. “In keeping with that commitment, the company’s management team is eager to exceed customer expectations by working with CBX to adopt next-generation approaches to the c-store experience.”
Under the assignment, the firm will update the chain’s logo and redesign the interiors and exteriors of its convenience stores, which range in size from 2,000-3,500 square feet. Friendly Express stores, which also offer gasoline, are located in several different southeast Georgia communities, including Waycross, Jesup, Folkston, Brunswick, and St. Simons Island.
“The strategic goals here include bolstering design and branding elements of important categories and areas of the store,” Bona noted. “In particular, we will be working with the company to improve and highlight the coffee and overall foodservice experience.” This is in keeping with broader trends across the U.S. c-store sector, in which higher-quality foodservice is one of the biggest growth areas, he added. “Nowadays, consumers expect more from convenience stores, in part because so many players out there—names like Wawa, RaceTrac, Sheetz and Thorntons—continually seek to innovate and push the boundaries,” Bona said.
But CBX will not need to create new brands from scratch: Friendly Express has already scored a hit with its loyal customers through its proprietary and locally produced DeDe’s doughnut brand. “There is an authenticity to DeDe’s, and we might well incorporate elements of this story into the rebranding project,” Bona said. “Today’s c-stores really need to ‘own’ coffee and bakery and, among other improvements, we aim to help Friendly Express do precisely that.”
Many of Friendly Express’ rural stores already serve as community focal points where people congregate, eat and shop, noted David Weinberger, vice president, engagement director at CBX. “I visited one store that had a separate dining area, which is unusual even for many of today’s best-known c-store chains,” he said. “That speaks to the already strong commitment to food at Friendly Express.”
“Friendly Express is excited to team up with such a reputable company as CBX,” said Danny Smith, CEO of Friendly Express. “After checking their references and meeting with them personally, we realized they have a passion for what they do and a willingness to do whatever it takes to deliver on their service. They understand our business, our financial challenges and our desire to evolve without reinventing ourselves. Most importantly, they listen and they always, always ask questions to better understand what we want to be when we grow up.”