Background & Challenge:
Based in Buffalo, NY, Sovran Self Storage is a real estate investment trust (REIT) trading on the New York Stock Exchange and involved in the self-storage industry under the Uncle Bob’s Self Storage brand name.
In 2015, Sovran was operating 500+ self-storage facilities under the Uncle Bob’s name and had completed consumer research that confirmed management’s concerns about the Uncle Bob’s name and its quirky connotations to customers. The business, therefore, wanted to pursue a rename.
WANT Branding partnered with strategic advisory firm Davies + Co. to create an integrated branding solution for Sovran. WANT was responsible for handling name development while Davies + Co. led the strategy and customer testing and name evaluation.
While the business of self-storage was highly competitive, with brands like ExtraSpace, Storage Centers and Public Storage leading the pack, the names themselves were dull and descriptive.
We explored a variety of name options. Some were simple and descriptive, others were suggestive while a few were outright fun and whimsical designed to grab attention and disrupt the category.
Ultimately, a shortlist of names was selected for testing including ideas such as Parachute, Night & Day, BrightIdea and NextSpace. We also tested Uncle Bob’s as a control candidate as well as the name ‘Life Storage’, an independent storage company that Sovran was acquiring.
Several new names tested well with customers and outperformed Uncle Bob’s. Life Storage also was given favorable rankings by customers and this name was ultimately selected. The idea was an existing brand with equity in markets where it had storage locations. Additionally, having the name ‘life’ captured a benefit which spoke to customer outcomes – people usually need storage after a major life event.
Holding company Sovran elected to adopt the LifeStorage name too so the business name could match the go-to-market customer brand.
In 2020, LifeStorage is a thriving $575M business.Still Headquartered in Buffalo, New York, the company employs over 2,000 people and operates approximately 850 self-storage facilities encompassing over 55 million square feet in 29 states.