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Vendor Newsmaker Q&A Tom Gray, Interstate Batteries

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 - 07:00
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Interstate Batteries is rolling out a new rebranding initiative aimed at bringing consistency to the product line’s look while maximizing shelf impact. Tom Gray is the company’s vice president of marketing who initially entered the University of Texas as an electrical engineering major. Realizing that he “would not be satisfied stifling the creative side” of his brain, Gray jumped into the world of advertising and marketing.

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Upon graduation he began his career at an advertising agency, representing brands such as American Airlines, Frito-Lay, Pepsi and Taco Bell. Gray went on to achieve additional expertise in brand strategy, advertising, innovation, foodservice, retail and business-to-business marketing, holding senior roles at Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Mission Foods and Warner Lambert.

At Interstate Batteries, according to his colleagues, he has been successfully working on “elevating Interstate’s brand equity in a low-involvement category and has led this challenge with industry-leading insights and an awesome team of internal and external resources.”

Gray recently answered a series of queries about the rebranding campaign:

Q: What are some of the elements of the new look for your battery lines?

A: We created this new labeling system for our automotive line to revitalize our look and shop-ability and to better position ourselves for current and future growth. 

Interstate is the most preferred battery brand among technicians and has been for the past 10 years, according to Frost & Sullivan research. With technicians being our core customers, they are very familiar with our products and services, so we wanted to involve them in the process of changing our look.

Their feedback confirmed the importance of keeping and enhancing the most powerful elements of our existing brand identity – namely, the bold INTERSTATE typeface on the front of our products and our signature green color – both of which will remain the same. In fact, our two top-selling automotive batteries will now both feature an easily distinguishable green top. These changes will bring consistency to the Interstate brand, while also maximizing shelf impact.

Q: The new labeling will be launching in phases? How will they be rolled out?

A: Select product SKUs will be entering our supply chain from manufacturers to distributors to dealers beginning in mid-April, with the balance of the automotive line becoming available in May. Given the breadth and depth of our product line and depending on current inventory in our distributorships and our consigned dealers, it will be a rolling conversion to dealers and consumers.

Q: How will this initiative benefit distributors, technicians, retailers and end-users?

A: The new labels allow our audiences to better differentiate between our “good,” “better,” “best,” and “premium,” lines. We accomplished this in two ways on our front label: through a “black,” “silver,” “gold,” and “platinum” color system, using a metallic foil on the “best” and “premium” lines, and by clearly stating the warranty information and group sizes. This allows for quick, intuitive differentiation of performance levels and immediate group size identification.

Feedback from our technicians confirmed that the simplicity and cohesiveness of the front and top labels makes it easier for them to inform their customers about the features and benefits of each product. Our technicians also said the new look better communicates Interstate’s premium quality and positioning to the market.

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