Wednesday, 23 September 2015

so First Great Western is no more

You may or may not be aware, that as of Sunday 20 September the First Great Western brand ceased to exist, and was replaced with a new Great Western Railway (GWR) identity.

The change revives the original GWR name that was founded in 1833 and engineered by the great Isambard Kingdom Brunel, even going as far as replicating the distinctive racing green colouring. The exercise removes any name link to their parent company FirstGroup and coincides with the start of the operator's franchise extension through to April 2019.

So what's the reaction been like? From what I've read, general consensus on the design work has been positive - simple, stylish and a definite step towards a time when the whole rail service had a greater reputation. 

However, the mood from everyday passengers has been slightly different. And to be fair, you can see why.

The PR story tells how the rebrand hopes to "rediscover the pioneering spirit" of the service that first ran on the line and says "it's a new dawn for our railway and we're excited to be at the helm." Unfortunately for customers who just want their train to have all its parts working, to be consistently on time, and at a price they think offers value for money - bar a new livery and identity on selected existing trains, they are unlikely to see any tangible changes in the near future.

In fact, the new livery will take three years to be introduced across every train on the whole Great Western network.

Passengers have been told the company will not only look different but in fact, things will be different - new trains, more of them, more seats & more staff. However, when a rebrand is based on future promises it becomes harder to take for customers who have to travel in the present.

For now, I'm sure most customers would settle for a great present wrapped in boring brown paper, rather than the other way round. I guess the only way to check if the rebrand has been a success is to come back in four years and ask the passengers if the promises were delivered.




Monday, 21 September 2015

the new TV advert from Virgin Trains

Last night (Sunday 20 September) saw the launch of the latest Virgin Trains TV ad.

It was a whopping 90 seconds long and appeared on prime time ITV1 during a break for Downton Abbey. It a nutshell it follows the challenges a young man must overcome when he meets his girlfriend's family for the first time - and is done in typical Virgin style.

See what you think...


There a lot of positive retweets flying around from the Virgin camp this morning (they're keeping quiet about any negative ones obviously) and you can expect them to do nothing else. It's a good idea, it's well shot and and overall it's a well executed piece of film. It's all very 'Virgin'.

But how good is it as a piece of advertising? You know, old fashioned advertising that is meant to sell you stuff, advertising that encourages a particular choice over the competition (in this case the car), something that is memorable and sticks in your head for future reference?

Based on those criteria I would argue not very. I think the ad itself is memorable, but not as an ad for Virgin Trains. And, in an industry where most operators have a monopoly on their route, it certainly doesn't encourage you to travel by train per se either.

If you want to see how it was made, have a watch below.

Friday, 18 September 2015

i know there is Traveline but...

We had an idea the other day, and it's so simple (and potentially effective) that is must be up and running somewhere around the country.

We reckon that most people arriving by train to a city would prefer to take a taxi to their destination mainly down to lack of knowledge of the local bus service. They arrive, and probably don't know the city from Adam so want the least amount of fuss possible for their onward trip. And what's more convenient than hopping in a taxi, handing your address over to the driver and paying up when you get there? Yes you may pay extra for the privilege, but that's price of convenience.

So how about each train station in the UK has a uniformly branded 'transport information hub'.  It is essentially a large touch operated screen that is pre programmed with all the bus services that serve that city only, and allows the user to select their final destination from an A-Z list of roads. It then tells you what bus services you can catch, from where in the station vicinity you do so, and also supplies up to date ticket information.

And at the touch of a few buttons you can now catch the bus in confidence, rather than rely on a more expensive taxi.

Yes, we know there are various apps and there is also Traveline but you have to know about them in order to to use them. Many people aren't users of public transport so even be aware of them. And as far as I'm aware, Traveline has no real branded presence at train stations around the country.

I'll gladly be proved wrong if someone knows of a national at-station information portal that is well designed, strongly branded and offers a simple, electronic, idiot proof guide to onward travel by bus... so please get in touch.

Friday, 11 September 2015

trainline's new advertising

I like the trainline rebrand - it's simple and stylish with a memorable colour palette - and was mentioned in this previous blog post.

Unfortunately I'm yet to be convinced by some of the advertising that has been produced to compliment it.

This is the TV ad...



and this is the 6 sheet...


Although the print work has a strong identity, I think it's trying too hard to be clever considering it's talking to the average Joe in the street,. What does 'I am train' actually mean? Is it obvious the app they are promoting is actually called 'train'? Why not remove any potential confusion and name the app after the newly rebranded company? Seems like the common sense thing to do. The look is strong but for me it isn't matched by the messaging.

I also think the TV ad is a bit forgettable. I'm not sure you would watch it a second or third time and remember who it was for, the benefits of trainline (which I think get lost on the story telling type of script) or even put two and two together to link it to the outdoor bits.

You might remember a bloke shouting though.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

thetrainline.com has rebranded

Good little video this showing how 'thetrainline.com' has rebranded itself to plain and simple 'trainline', with some subtle, yet notable changes.

Safe to say the change is long overdue but seems to be worth the wait.

Nice work all around.

Monday, 7 September 2015

livery design showcase - Velvet Buses

Here's the third instalment of our monthly project taking a defunct public transport operator from around the country and reinventing it for the roads of 2015.

We're looking back at their past branding and liveries to create a modern twist on their appearance as a showcase of what can be achieved.

This month it's Velvet Buses - a bus company based in Eastleigh, that operated between November 2007 and January 2015..

Here's what they used to look like...


And here's our updated, smoother identity...


Friday, 4 September 2015

what do the bus folk of Denmark and Canada have in common?

It's not very often you get two bus ads, from two different countries, that are trying to sell the same product in a similar way.

In last month's newsletter we showed an advert from Danish TV that was fairly obviously trying to make the bus look sexy and cool. You can see it here.

And it seems the good people of Edmonton, Canada have taken inspiration from their Nordic cousins as they've come up with their own ad which, something they openly admit, isn't a million miles away.

I'm not sure it's ever going to win any advertising awards but I can't decide if the public will think it's a work of genius or car crash marketing of the highest order.



Have the client and agency over-hyped the product to create interest (in this case making bus travel look sexy and cool) or are they taking the product's benefits and promoting them in an interesting, memorable way?

Either way, the Canadian ad got Daily Mail readers and YouTube viewers talking about the bus, which is probably a first for a bus advert of any description.