what's the point in something being stylish but not practical?

A couple of months ago I commented on somebody's tweet that congratulated the designer behind the GWR rebrand

The essence of my message was that the public are more interested in the punctuality and reliability of their trains than the quality of said company's branding. I thought nothing of the tweet until a few weeks ago when it was used on another blog discussing the point of branding and design where public transport is concerned.

The piece is a good one and, in part, discusses why operators' obsession with things that should be a given (like the aforementioned punctuality and reliability) often lead to the softer influences of design and branding being neglected.

The first comment was as follows:
You’re quite right! If suddenly public transport was run by apple and branded accordingly…imagine how uber trendy it would be to be taking the bus!
To which our creative director, Roland Scull replied:
But Apple is not just about style. Their whole ethos is in the customer experience. It has to be simple, easy to use and reliable. By starting with these core aims and then forgetting how it is currently done, they revolutionised portable music (iPod) and then mobile phones (iPhone). This simple, consistent customer experience is then enhance by a very strong brand. Without the great product though, the branding is pointless.
So Apple got the basics of the product nailed first, understanding perfectly that form follows function. Understanding there's no point in something looking good if it doesn't do the job it's supposed to. But public transport has yet to reach this point, yet to reach a point where it can concentrate on style, because all too often the basics of the service are not consistently delivered.

All in all the article ended up in a good little debate on the role design plays in the whole public transport offering. You can read the whole thing here.

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