Monday, 25 July 2016

what's the return on Catch The Bus Week?

The week of 4-10 July saw Greener Journeys promote their fourth annual Catch The Bus Week event - something Chief Executive Claire Haigh said 'had the support of almost 300 different stakeholders' and was 'the biggest and best yet'.

In principle, the event is a great idea. Operators and individuals across the country getting together to celebrate the bus and encourage people to get out of their cars and catch the bus instead.

Claire's latest blog post provides a brief summary of the activities that took place and lists the input by operators large and small. It looks impressive and shows the scale and coordination of the activity.

But just because an organisation has spent lots of time, money and effort on a particular campaign, the brutal truth is that success has to be judged on the results delivered. As the saying goes 'turnover is vanity, profit is sanity'.

So for a campaign with the objective of getting (new or lapsed) people to catch the bus, releasing figures of how many people actually did so, would show whether the activity is effective.

If these figures are then broken down by age group and location,  we could really see where it worked best and what audiences were most responsive to this particular modal shift message.

As with any marketing activity, if you can't measure your return on investment, you might not get the investment again in future years.

Friday, 22 July 2016

do these two trains ads miss the point?

In theory, advertising is simple - take a product truth or benefit and make it fun, entertaining or engaging for your target market.

Yet turning this theory into reality is immensely difficult, which, unfortunately, leads to a plethora of advertising that tries to convey the easier message of 'brand' or 'the emotional connection'. It's advertising that doesn't give the customer a real reason to buy your product over a competitor's offering.

Take these two train ads, for GWR and Northern Railway respectively...

Both are quite (well, very) similar in idea and execution, and are undoubtedly very well shot pieces of film. Top marks for production. However, what lets them down is the lack of benefit to the viewer.  In order to visit the destinations listed, why should I get your train, over and above the alternatives of the coach or my car? After all, the product being advertised is a train service.

There's no mention of frequencies, station facilities/parking (Nothern pays lip service at the end to be fair, ticket options (how about prices for family deals?), the excitement of the train, the romance of the train, ease of buying tickets online etc. Aren't these the things that would get you to change your behaviour rather than being shown where the train goes? 

In reality, both productions make great ads for tourism in their respective regions but I need convincing they make great ads for getting there by train.

bet you’ve never seen a bus livery like this before…

We rebrand Maidstone & District buses for today's consumer.

Maidstone & District Motor Services was 100 years old in 2011. Or it would have been had it not been transformed into Arriva Kent & Sussex in 1997 and rebranded in the group’s aquamarine and Cotswold stone national livery.

For around half a century until 1972, its fleet was painted dark green and cream with a distinctive scroll fleet name. Then the National Bus Company’s corporate identity changed it to leaf green and white with a standard fleet name in block capitals with the NBC logo.

Privatisation in 1986 dropped the NBC logo and changed the colours to green with a bit more cream. Then in 1997, a few months before Arriva’s identity was revealed, a new dark green and cream came along with a remake of the old scroll fleet name.

In taking on the challenge to imagine that M&D is still around and eager to give itself a contemporary look, we may have made our most controversial move so far in this series of projects suggesting how buses should be branded for modern consumers.

The influence for this revamp of Maidstone & District was a straight-forward one – make it modern, and make it as different as possible.

M&D’s original colours were typical of the era, but lack appeal for today’s modern consumer, and have received a significant update to keep with the times. Out goes the racing green/cream colour combination and in comes a palette that contrasts a refreshingly natural green with a more industrial metallic silver.

Using this fresh palette as our creative base, the branding evolved to deliver a real eye-catching identity. A sans serif font called Proxima Nova was chosen for its simplicity and used with exaggerated kerning, providing a real sense of space to the lettering. To further stylise the logo we then removed random pieces of some of the letters, which, along with the contrasting purple ampersand, instantly gives a distinguished look to the new identity.

Yes, it is slightly abstract and, yes, you have to work a little to put the pieces together, but it is modern and one you would not forget in a hurry. How many bus brands on today’s streets can you say that about?

Taking advantage of the space available, working the identity into the bus’s shape was a relatively seamless exercise. It was run off both a vertical and horizontal straight edge, with the simplicity of execution contrasting the logo’s relatively complex construction.

The bus’s key benefits are easily identifiable at the rear and the use of the ampersand allows the brand’s playful personality to shine through.

The marketing collateral is completed with a striking timetable booklet, printed with a silver ink to allow the colour combination to pop out of the rack.

As you would expect, the branding elements from the livery are carried through to provide that clear consistency of look and feel.

The new Maidstone & District brand is a different creative beast to anything on the road today. Moreover, it is rightly proud to be so.

Friday, 15 July 2016

watch Channel 4's We're the Superhumans trailer

My grandad used to say there was no such word as 'can't' - and now I understand why.

If this doesn't inspire you to watch the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, nothing will.

Great work from the Channel 4 team, yet again.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

passing the time of day on Amsterdam's trams

So you're on the tram in Amsterdam, and have nothing to do but stare out of the window observing life in the Dutch capital.

If that's not enough for you, make things a little more interesting by trying this simple, yet additive, little game.

Friday, 1 July 2016

the Paris Metro map gets a new look

It took over two years and 800 versions but Paris has finally got a redesigned Metro map - although by the looks of things it's not 'official'.

The project itself was undertaken by Russian graphic designer Constantine Konovalow, who was responsible for the Moscow Metro identity.

After initially visiting the city and finding it hard to navigate, Konovalov and his team of artists redesigned the map, plotting it on a 30-degree grid (as opposed to a standard 45) and depicting some of the metro’s stops in a circular pattern. Other stops on various lines were straightened, and curves smoothed out.

The existing map can be seen here, with Constantine's effort shown below.

Click to enlarge

He goes on to say "We looked at Paris from a different perspective and it inspired us to create this fundamentally new map of Paris metro system, regional trains, and trams. Every line and all the elements of the map have been rethought and brought to a new visual form to enable fast and easy route finding."

Detail before

Detail after

The designer has set up a website where not only does he go into specifics about the design's detailed approach but you can watch a brilliant time-lapse video following the progress of version 1 through to version 800.

Visit the website here.