It may not take rocket science to build a great brand, but it does take foresight, commitment, and hard work.

One of the cool things about our industry is the great job it does building brands that resonate with the public. The best retail petroleum brands function as symbols of commercial trade. They’re larger than life; comprehended at a glance by almost everyone.

It’s exciting to be in the middle of that. As bloggers, it means when we write about the market, we’re pretty much guaranteed an audience that has a shared knowledge of our subject matter.


The effectiveness of brand recognition plays out on several levels. It can be a global phenomenon. Circle K and 7-Eleven are iconic, not just across America, but around the world.

AplusSunocoLogo_2Other brands absolutely dominate large market segments within the U.S. These include APlus (Pennsylvania), Love’s Travel Stops (Oklahoma), ABC (Hawaii), Stripes (Texas) and countless others.

logo_bollaThen there are even smaller chains that are powerhouses in their focused, targeted regions, like the heartland’s Buc-ee’s and their fun-loving beaver; Bolla Oil, whose reputation for innovation is recognized throughout the Eastern Seaboard; and Terrible Herbst (Las Vegas), whose caricatured bad-guy persona has proven irresistible to consumers in the Western States.

bucky_beaverWe bring up branding, because one of the more interesting reads that’s come across our desk lately is titled, What Great Brands Do: the Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest, by Denise Lee Yohn. The SSCS marketing committee thought highly enough of the book to bring several copies into our building, and it’s proven a fast-paced, sometimes profound read. We certainly don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who wants to read it, but if you’re looking for a way to revitalize your brand, or if you think you are doing a good job and want a little reinforcement, it’s worth a look.

We’ve come away from it with the understanding that while it doesn’t take rocket science to build a brand, it certainly takes more than market penetration and a cute mascot or a striking logo. Attributes like foresight, commitment, and hard work are required.

And don’t forget, being well-known is a double-edged sword. If you neglect your brand, or it comes to represent something less than positive, word will spread like wildfire. You’ll be known far and wide, but not in the way you’d like.

In other words, as rocket scientist—er, theoretical physicist—Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory once said, “More does not equal merry!”

That’s no joke, so we’ll leave out the “BAZINGA!”