Buc-ee's Gets Their Branding Right, Joey

Buc-ee's Gets Their Branding Right, Joey

Joey Nance is a graphic designer from Idaho. He has a “30 Seconds of Design” series of Instagram videos that he uses to discuss the design elements of various things. Check out the Texas Snax Instagram account as well, by the way. During his December 22, 2020 installment, he was clearly visiting the south for the holidays. He decided to comment on Buc-ee’s logo and its various design elements.

As you can see, he’s not a fan of our favorite beaver and his convenience station branding. At least he acknowledges that he’s being a bit mean and a Scrooge of sorts. As total Buc-ee’s fans and resellers over here (with a bias to agree with Buc-ee’s on everything), we vehemently disagree with him and his analysis for the following reasons.

The Mascot

First off, Buc-ee is a beaver, not a chipmunk. Not that there’s anything wrong with chipmunks, but getting the species correct is important. Arch Alpin III is the chain’s co-founder, and when he was a baby his mother gave him the nickname of “Beaver.” Further, Alpin’s childhood pet labrador retriever was named Buck, and that paired with the fact that he liked Ipana toothpaste’s mascot -- Bucky Beaver. We’ll assume he likes the mascot because liking toothpaste is weird. With those three things aligned, it gave Alpin the inspiration to pick his company’s mascot species and name. So, by identifying the wrong species, Nance misses the rich legacy of the brand.

The Super Happy Eyes and Mouth

Nance also takes issue with Buc-ee’s cheerfulness. To be fair too much happiness is just saccharine, which can get old quickly. Pollyanna’s Glad Game is only tolerable for so long. However, Buc-ee’s is a place of wonder and merriment. Thus, the super happy eyes and mouth in the logo is perfectly appropriate. They’re subtle hints that this isn’t any ordinary gas station with dingy bathrooms, too few gas pumps, generic treats, and the same old things you can find anywhere else. Besides, people order Buc-ee’s wares from all over the place through Texas Snax. Not many other convenience stores can boast that. Additionally, focusing on that weird shape near the cheek is just nitpicky. If we have to focus on it, it’s probably akin to Cindy Crawford’s mole. It makes her distinctive. Buc-ee is man enough to have his own beauty mark.

The Hyphen

Granted, hyphens in names -- let alone those for major companies -- are rather rare with the exception of surnames. Nance thinks that in this case it is childish. We argue that if anything it is childlike. Childish is negative as it implies that a person or thing is prone to tantrums, unreasonable expectations, crying, and pouting. On the other hand, childlike means that a person who possesses the positive aspects of children -- innocence and trust. What’s wrong with that? Buc-ee’s is a place for kids -- both young and old. The hyphen is perfect.

Full Disclosure: Kirk, one of the founders here, mispronounced Buc-ee’s the first time he visited Texas... while phonetical, this just isn't how you normally spell something pronounced as this way.

What’s wrong with Cheesy?

Nance likens the brand theme to someone who is unsuccessfully trying to be funny, but that’s part of the point. We’re sure that cheesy with a side of puns is part of Buc-ee’s brand guidelines. Just browse the clothes; there are tons of bold colors, pop culture references, 80s callbacks, bad jokes, and animal prints galore. This is a quintessential element of the company, and that means the cheesiness fits in with the branding perfectly.

We’ll cut Nance some slack. He’s not just from Idaho; he’s from northern Idaho. Buc-ee’s is a Texas and southern “thang,” which means that as far north as he isn’t helping any. Further, Texans are known for friendliness. He’s more than welcome to pump gas, eat Beaver Nuggets, and use the clean bathrooms. We know that he’ll come around soon enough. - Steve

Back to blog

1 comment

Hey Steve, I’m the guy who made the original Instagram video that his post is referring to. I only just found out about this article, and I love it! I love your enthusiasm for all things Buc-ee’s, and I appreciate the thoughtful and careful parsing of my video and your well-thought out response. I actually agree with basically everything you said. While the visual brand of Buc-ee’s – from a strict graphic design perspective – still isn’t something I would gravitate toward, the organization overall seems like an amazing organization, and I can see why Texans are so fiercely loyal to it (I received many an angry comment from fans when I first posted the video). While the mascot and name still bother me (because a bit of me is still a scrooge,) without you, I wouldn’t have known that the happy, child-like feel of the brand is appropriate, given how clean, friendly, and customer-focused the convenience stores actually are. Thanks for writing this, and enjoy the beaver nuggets!

And by the way, I did pump gasoline there. It was good gasoline.

Joey Nance

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.