Lube Stop

thunder::tech helped a chain of quick service oil shops reinvent themselves for a cleaner era and brighter opportunities


Lube Stop is a quick service oil change and maintenance company that, at its height, had 60+ stores located across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. An innovator in the industry, Lube Stop was one of the first to widely adopt the underground bay concept that allowed customers to stay in their car for a faster, more comfortable experience. Lube Stop was also a pioneer in the use of more ecologically friendly re-refined and synthetic oils.
thunder::tech and Lube Stop had a strong working relationship that spanned more than a decade. The agency had created numerous online and offline promotions that included print, TV, radio, collateral, apparel, event sponsorships and social media.

Looking ahead while looking back

Lube Stop celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2015. While they reflected on three decades of success, they had an eye firmly fixed to the future—for the company and the industry. Lube Stop had quietly been reinventing itself for years, championing sustainability in its products and services, and building a culture of employee empowerment. After years of discussion, the company was primed and ready to embrace a bold new branding strategy.
thunder::tech leveraged deep knowledge of the company and the industry to help shepherd Lube Stop to a place that would allow it to thrive for another 30 years—and beyond. The rebranding efforts finally allowed the current values of the company to be reflected in its outward visual brand and promotions.
A fresh new take on oil changes
The first step was to ensure that internal stakeholders were aligned to the strategy. To this end, thunder::tech crafted an inwardly-facing manifesto that articulated the company’s priorities moving forward.
The aspirational "Powered by People" manifesto focused the company’s attention to the individuals who were most important to the brand, and grouped them into three core constituencies:

  • The people under the hood—the hardworking employees of Lube Stop who are always friendly, professional and ready to go the extra mile

  • The people behind the wheel—the brands’ customers who have come to expect the absolute best service at the fairest price

  • The people in the backseat—the children who will inherit the planet after us. We owe it to them to help make the world a better place.

While the manifesto was finalized, thunder::tech began work on a new logo and visual identity. The old logo was showing its age, most notably the black oil drop that was at odds with the brand’s commitment to sustainability and ecological responsibility.
The new logo featured a more contemporary typeface and replaced the old “dirty” oil drop. The former bright blue was evolved to a rich navy, and the color black has been replaced with a modern green to represent Lube Stop’s commitment to sustainability. The perfectly symmetrical “oil drop” represented Lube Stop’s goal of excellence in all things. The formerly black drop is now now a fresh green to reinforce the company’s dedication to environmental responsibility.

A new tagline was also introduced at this time that reflected the “Powered by People” manifesto: “More Than Oil Experts.” This supported the idea that the friendly technicians of Lube Stop do more than simply change your oil, they also help you prolong the length of your engine and safeguard your entire vehicle, from wheels to windshield.

Sharing the brand’s vision
With a new visual identity finalized, thunder::tech went to work activating it in both the digital and physical worlds.
The new Lube Stop website was modern, clean and easy to navigate. It was designed to look and work effortlessly on both laptop and smartphones. The photography featured technicians and other Lube Stop employees whenever possible to reinforce the “Powered by People” theme. In fact, thunder::tech organized and executed an employee photo shoot of actual technicians in a variety of fun and humorous poses so that they could be featured on the website, in collateral and in social media.
thunder::tech refreshed all of the brand’s social channels and email marketing efforts with the new logo and visual identity.
In the physical world, thunder::tech rolled out the new identity with illuminated exterior signage and storefront signage. The tagline—“More Than Oil Experts”—was featured prominently on the front of the building, while the green drop was utilized as bay numbering on the rear of the buildings.
thunder::tech leveraged the refreshed identity in a number of ways in the interior design. The new logo and palette was used extensively throughout, and the “Powered by People” manifesto was featured in signage. Even small details, such as the color of the chairs, was considered and designed to support the brand.
thunder::tech created a number of collateral pieces to engage customers and promote the brand, including:

  • Customer appreciate coupons

  • Customer reminder cards

  • Maintenance brochures

  • Coupon packs

  • Stationary

  • Business cards

  • In-bay service menus

  • Oil change reminder postcards

thunder::tech also created print executions for consumer and trade publications, as well as promotional elements for Lube Stop’s annual MDA shamrock fundraiser.
Showing the technicians some love
Lube Stop had developed a “t-shirt culture” where fun shirts, hats and other apparel were distributed to employees for everything from hitting sales goals to special anniversaries. thunder::tech leveraged and expanded these efforts, creating dozens of exclusive designs for specific occasions, including recognition of the first $1 million year for a single location.
These efforts not only reinforced the “Powered by People” theme, it demonstrated in a tangible way to employees—especially the hard-working service techs who often spent the entire day below ground covered in oil—that the company appreciated their work and cared about their well being. These efforts contributed to Lube Stop having one of the best employee retention rates in the industry.
The promotion to end all promotions
Lube Stop ran special promotions for a number of holidays and events like tax day, back to school, St. Patrick’s day and Thanksgiving, to name a few. The company challenged thunder::tech with identifying a holiday or special time of year that the brand could “own” with promotional messaging.
After some exploration, thunder::tech landed on a holiday that connected with the target audience and wasn’t already saturated with special offers: Father’s Day.  In order to make it as fun and engaging as possible thunder::tech focused on the most dreaded Father’s Day gift of all—the tie.
And thus the "The Terrible Tie Trade-In" born.
In this promotion, customers could bring in an old, ugly tie and exchange it for $15 off any oil change or $25 off any maintenance service. The promotion was a runaway success, with hundreds of new customers coming in, each with a hideous tie in hand.
The “Terrible Tie Trade-In” quickly became the brand’s signature promotion, gaining Lube Stop not only new customers but also a significant amount of earned media through newspaper and local news coverage.
Each store competed to become the top tie-collecting shop. thunder::tech created a custom trophy topped with a metal tie that was awarded to the top shop. At its peak, the promotion collected close to 500 ties in one year.
Going national and gaining an all new direction
While thunder::tech was reinventing the brand, Lube Stop was aggressively expanding into the Midwest. The company bought out small regional oil change chains in Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, transforming them into Lube Stops with the new visual branding and running a paid media strategy to support the introduction of the brand into these new markets.
The company had more than 60 stores in total, spread out across four states.
Lube Stop’s expansion plans and fresh new look attracted the attention of a larger, Louisiana-based service chain called Take Five. In the Fall of 2016, Lube Stop was purchased, with most locations converted into Take Five shops.
The locations in Illinois and the Quad Cities retain the Lube Stop branding, having been renovated shortly before the sale.
Want to learn more? thunder::tech can help you with brand identity, campaign creation, strategy, social media, website design and more. Contact us today!

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