Star Pharmacy: A new star is born but will the brand ever rise?

A new pharmacy retail brand, Star Pharmacy, was recently launched into the crowded chemist retail market. They appear to have ambitions to challenge established players such as Chemmart and Terry White with a premium product and service focus.

However, everything from the name to the brand’s identity seems to work against the very positioning that the brand is aiming for.

Star’s home is at Melbourne’s Kew Junction, where it currently has two pharmacies just 10 doors apart. One replaces the Pulse pharmacy and the other that takes over the old Mitre 10 premises – where they have created a flagship branch. The group also has pharmacies in Albert Park, Sunbury and Kangaroo Flat.

Employees at the Kew pharmacy (previously under the Pulse Pharmacy brand) have been proudly telling customers about the new offering for the past couple of months.

Star Pharmacy’s vision is to offer “Better Health Solutions”. They claim they will achieve this through a “vibrant and energetic team who are recognised as experts in providing health care and advice”.

The premium brand positioning is further emphasised by the inclusion of brands such as Chanel, Dior, Estee Lauder, Clinique, Lancome, Clarins and Jurlique – many that are have their usual domain in leading department stores.

Star also claims to differentiate with advanced technology, extensive health services, experienced pharmacists, naturopath and well-trained staff.

Unfortunately, the brand design feels completely out of sync with the desired brand positioning. Everything from the name, the brand mark to the overall look and feel of the brand, communicates the opposite of what they want.

The name Star and the colour orange screams challenger and value – not premium.

It is not distinctive and could also be subject to legal challenges. Star is being used across many categories and is associated with other value-oriented brands such as Star Mart and JetStar.

JetStar and StarMart; other well known ‘star’ brands – all value oriented

 

More concerning is that due diligence wasn’t carried out.

Star Pharmacy is a major Australian pharmacy group that owns leading retail brands Chemmart, Terry White and Guardian – how was this missed?

Star Pharmacy Group and their retail brands

 

To build a strong retail brand, you need a strong, distinctive and engaging brand mark and visual language that can be applied ruthlessly across all communication, in particular in the retail environment.

The brand mark chosen is too obscure, fussy and lacks any strong visual cues for premium service or quality.

It looks like Star Pharmacy hired a graphic designer, rather than a brand designer to create the brand. The critical cues to position a brand relative to its market, have not been considered – unless Chemist Warehouse is their key competitor.


However, what they seem to have right, at least in the Kew pharmacy, is the service.

The team really seem to understand the company vision of providing better health solutions. Employees appear to be well trained and keen to help. The products and services also seem to be a step up from most chemists.

Such a shame their brand design is letting them down.

While those venturing into the store might be pleasantly surprised with the experience – the brand mark, name and visual identity may provide a barrier to attract the brand’s target customers.

It may also limit their opportunity to attract other pharmacies to join the Star Pharmacy brand and hence their growth.

Michael Hughes
Director of brand strategy

 

4 Comments

  1. Hi Michael,

    Interesting article, you have a lot of data points towards your argument.

    A comment I’d like to make. It seems that from your photo, that besides what appears to be a neon “NOW OPEN” sign, all other signage is opaque, not backlit. And yet the store is open till 10pm, seven days a week. In terms of achieving brand communication objectives through signage, have they failed here or is relying on ambient lighting (in this or any other setting) enough?

    Regards,

    Steve

    • Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your comments. I am glad you found it interesting.
      In regards to the signage, you are correct but it probably is a bit unfair to judge them on this image alone, as this is the rear entrance (from the car park). There is illuminated signage on their main entrance. When I took the photo, I couldn’t get a clear shot of the front without traffic. I will try and get another shot of the front of the store in the next day or so and update the blog.
      Regards,
      Michael

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