CarMax needed to adapt its digital experience and brand positioning to serve new shopping behaviors, but remain true to their legacy as the automotive industry disruptor. The platform update had to tell a compelling story about how CarMax empowers customers with a seamless car-buying experience — online, at CarMax physical locations, or both.


We repositioned CarMax for car buyers looking for more control over their car shopping experience, while maintaining consistent brand values with loyal customers in mind. Using a modular approach to messaging and a scalable content strategy, we created a suite of digital storytelling experiences that spoke to CarMax’s new offerings, and a flexible language that leveraged continual product innovation.


Together, we established a model for cross-product collaboration, unifying teams with an inclusive brand strategy, and launched a new experience for test markets and a national audience. It worked. CarMax research indicates that customers who experience the new brand messaging in test markets are more likely to convert to a lead.

Fully integrated collaboration

Over a six-month period, our team of strategists and designers integrated into CarMax’s product teams and worked alongside stakeholders at their Digital Innovation Center in Richmond, Virginia. There, we quickly absorbed CarMax’s identity and complex business values, and began an iterative approach to bring them to life in the digital space. Utilizing a cloud-based design tool, we collaborated in real time with in-house designers and copywriters, and prototyped rapidly for daily reviews.

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Brand messaging strategy

Since its founding more than 25 years ago, CarMax’s increased size and variety of offerings have set it apart from traditional used car dealerships. We synthesized 84 messages and value propositions into a messaging framework that highlighted four key brand stories. Relying on extensive research and targeted personas, we mapped these stories across the customer journey, detailing why, when, how, and to whom key messages should be surfaced.

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Transformed user experiences through design

We created visual design and content strategies that better communicated their helpful, honest identity — and delivered some effective illustrations for a new offering as well. Informed by a shared method of continuous iteration and rapid user testing, we were able to build a new design language and way of speaking about the brand that increased affinity for both loyal customers and newcomers to CarMax.

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