The retooling of the Tom's convenience store business into a travel center enterprise also has become a rebranding effort that has rolled out first at York-based Shipley Group's center in Shrewsbury Township.
Greeting consumers coming north from or going south into Maryland is the similar name, "Toms," towering near Interstate 83.
But now it's written mostly in white letters and set on an orange background, all above a simple tagline.
Rounding out the new logo is a blue "S" that intentionally sets apart the letter.
The old Tom's convenience store logo was developed in the early 1990s, said Bret Hoffmaster, vice president of marketing for Shipley Group.
The old signs included a cartoon tomcat perched atop the name as a play on the name of company founder Tom Shipley, and the entire look was starting to look a bit stale, Hoffmaster said.
While the company is converting its business model to travel centers, it figured this was the time to take a look at the brand as well, he said.
Shipley even thought about doing away with the "Tom's" name altogether but determined ultimately that there is brand equity in it, Hoffmaster said.
The new brand — without the apostrophe, for people paying attention — is rolling out this year at the company's other two travel plazas between the midstate and State College.
Shipley is turning its more traditional convenience store business line into a travel center business focused on larger-footprint plazas in high-profile locations.
Shipley also is a supplier of residential and commercial fuels, and large travel centers help to leverage existing relationships with fleet-vehicle customers, Hoffmaster said.
It also plans to get further into alternative and cleaner-burning products, which it will offer at the travel centers, he said. Natural gas as a transportation fuel has a strong future, Hoffmaster said.
"We want to be known as the place where any type of traveler can stop and get fueled and get refreshed," he said.
The company's new logo has a clean and minimalist look found in many successful brands in the national advertising market today, Hoffmaster said.
And the color orange is one that you don't find in many other places, even though it is a higher-energy and refreshing color, he said.
Shipley hired York County-based firm Wolf Design Partners LLC to develop the new brand after it did the same for the Shipley Energy side of the business.
First of all, the result had to be simple, said Bob Wolf, founder and chief creative officer. The short name was a great start, he said.
"When it comes to brands that have to live on the highway, you need fast, quick recognition," said Wolf, who came to the midstate from a career in New York.
He said he looked around the area and saw that convenience stores were recognizable by their color schemes. Then, he thought of how he would recognize a Howard Johnson hotel location by its unmistakable orange roof before he ever saw the sign.
Orange also is a great food color, is distinctive and is available in the local market, Wolf said.
Complementing the orange is the set-off blue "S" that gets people thinking: What's so special about that letter?
Wolf said there are a lot of words that are part of Shipley, its stores and the experience the company is all about that start with "S."
Service, snacks, smiles and so on.
"Get refreshed" also covers a lot of ground with just a short phrase, Wolf said.
Food and drinks are refreshing and so is the chance just to stretch your legs, he said. Even a car needs to be refreshed with fuel.
Branding in the past several years has been evolving toward a "less is more" look because brands have to work across the world in many cases and because of advancements in technology, said Mark Blake, professor of marketing at York College.
The brands for such products are streamlined, and they contribute to a world where people express themselves or take in information in 140 characters or less, he said.
And in no place is simplicity more important than along the highway, where a sign is in view for just a moment before a person in a vehicle cruises on by, Blake said.