Karma reaches Milestone before the journey starts

Milestone Strategic Design has created the identity for start-up car supermarket chain Karma, which opens its first outlet in Watford on 30 September.

The consultancy generated the name and visual identity, as well as the interior and exterior designs for the inaugural 4650m2 showroom.

The Karma brand is being positioned as a more approachable alternative to the traditional ‘burnt out forecourt’ image of many other car sales businesses, according to Milestone director Peter Wilkinson. ‘Many people are put off by the image of salesmen in bomber jackets. We created a softer, cuddlier image that will appeal to more people, especially women.’

Brightly coloured branding, along with a café, play area and ‘chill-out zone’ was designed by Milestone to set Karma apart from competitors in the car sales sector. ‘It is not a very design-led industry,’ says Wilkinson. ‘We adopted a no bunting rule [for the designs]. It’s almost like Ikea for cars.’

Karma is owned by Private and Commercial Finance, a specialist in consumer finance. Conceived 18 months ago as a vehicle to extend the company’s finance business in the car sector, Karma is its first retail environment project.

‘It is a brave move into retailing [for Private and Commercial Finance],’ says Karma operations director Shane Robinson.

The company intends to open a further eight dealerships over the next three years, with the second expected within nine months. Robinson is ‘not overly precious’ on site location, but he says provincial towns in southern England are most likely.

Milestone’s work also includes style guidelines, uniforms and above- and below-the-line activity.

The consultancy won the project in an unpaid, five-way creative pitch a year ago.

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