With the first Mint Smartwash opening in Calgary, we’re revisiting our development of the eye-catching brand. Mint is an innovative full-service automated car wash featuring advanced technology and an extended wash bay system to process vehicles in a constant stream instead of the typical wait in line for the car ahead of you to finish its wash. In mid 2015, the entrepreneurs behind the venture asked Strut to brand their inaugural location in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Metro Express was the original name and logo developed in collaboration with a business partner who was no longer involved in the business, and the remaining partners were looking for an identity that better represented the upcoming offering and set it apart from major competitors. They asked Strut to develop a brand around the existing name, but were open to other directions.
Of chief importance was that the brand appeal to a much wider demographic than typical of the competition. While many of other car washes seemingly targeted middle-aged-and-older men (and especially car enthusiasts and aficionados), the owners wanted to avoid alienating young professionals, women and families, and develop a broader, more inclusive customer base. They also wanted to avoid the industry tendency towards names containing cute puns, rivalled only by hair salons.
We wanted to develop a brand that was fresh and modern, and would signify to customers that the car wash is a forward-thinking business that takes its environmental responsibility seriously. While developing visual identities around Metro Express, we explored alternate names and landed on Mint. We also recommended creating a descriptor for the innovation wash itself, and together they became Mint Smartwash.
The name “Mint Smartwash” combines the end product (a “mint” condition vehicle) with the process (a “smart” wash that gets you in and out in no time at all, while minimizing environmental impact), and alludes to the advanced technology the wash utilizes to deliver an extremely efficient service. They loved it.
The visual expression of the brand is clean and uncluttered, and represents the simplicity of the process and ease-of-use for customers of the car wash itself. The primary colour palette is comprised of bright, solid greens and blues, calling to mind the natural environment, and the overall aesthetic is modern, but friendly.
Playing off the association with mints and mint gum, we developed the tagline “Refresh your ride” and named the different wash levels as Ultimint, Coolmint, and Freshmint. The car wash’s unlimited subscription service became known as Club Mint.
Additional deliverables included applying the branding to building renderings, site signage (some replaced by digital touch screens), marketing materials, and the original Mint Smartwash website.
Soon after the first Mint Smartwash opened its doors in early 2016, business was booming. Not long after, the owners were approached by a major player on the US car wash scene, who asked to adopt the brand for one of their car washes in Montana – based primarily on the identity work developed by Strut. In the years since then, the Mint network has been expanding across Alberta and Saskatchewan, with more locations to come.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience a Mint Smartwash, we highly recommend it. For a competitive price, you’ll receive a superior wash without the wait, as well as free vacuums, floor mat washers, detailing towels, and tire inflation stations. And with their expanding reach, you may no longer have to drive to Lethbridge to treat your vehicle and keep it looking… mint.
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