does a bus livery help the buyer or seller?

This is highly likely to be the last blog post of 2017, so I thought I'd look at something that rifles many in the bus industry - the role the livery plays in enticing new passengers on board.

In order to judge a livery's importance, we have to look at what the industry tries to sell, set against what the customer wants to buy. And by and large, the two aren't particularly well matched.

Bus companies sell the things they control (seat, ticket price, wi-fi etc) and the livery is obviously one of them - so their thinking is 'if we make the bus look nice, people will want to try it'. To them, it's a selling point. Contrast that with how non-bus users actually think, and what they need to buy. If you're lucky, a customer wants to buy the bus as a possible solution to an immediate or future travel problem.

And in order to solve that problem, a potential customer needs to know/find out a number of things, including who their local operator is, if they have a service goes to the destination they require, what time it goes, what the best ticket is for the purpose of their journey and how they go about buying one (amongst others). You'd hope all this information would be on a consistently branded website or app, making the whole information journey from non-user to bus user pretty seamless.

Then low and behold, the bus trundles along the road with branding that looks suspiciously like the website, with a large gleaming number on the front. Mr Joe Public puts two and two together and the bus operator has a new passenger.

So what part does a livery play in enticing this passenger? A limited one.

Every bus operator should have a livery that is well designed and aims to make the product look attractive, but those two elements are no dealbreaker when it comes to solving the transport problems of an individual.

They're just not a buying signal.

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