Branding in Melbourne

The presentation of a public transport system to the public is of great importance. Branding of a system, when done well, comes to not only symbolise the the system, but the city as a whole (as we’ve seen with London and the tube). Although the branding of any given system will only be as good as the system itself, I think it’s wrong to see it as merely a side issue or gunzel fantasy. It’s important to look at recent Melbourne experience with branding and system image, the costs and benefits of change, and how it could be achieved…

This post is published in full at Transport Textbook.


One Response

  1. Phin: great post. Three comments:

    1. More fundamental than branding is a name for the system, which we still don’t really have (IMHO).

    We used to have ‘The Met’. While I was barely in Melbourne at the time, I believe that if you told someone ‘you took The Met’, you would have been understood.

    Because Metlink is a brand rather than a system name, this causes some problems and missed branding opportunities.

    For instance we still have the ‘Met Shop’ and ‘Metcard’ since Met, though officially defunct, is the best name we’ve got for the system as a whole.

    Remember those bumper stickers that said ‘My other car is the Met’? I fear that a revamp saying ‘My other car is Metlink’ won’t quite work because it isn’t really a system name (though it is a brand and a non-profit company).

    2. Ideally you want branding to be all pervasive that their symbol is everywhere (like London Underground) and so widely known it doesn’t need an accompanying word (like Nike).

    Adelaide suffers because there is confusion between ‘Adelaide Metro’ and ‘Transadelaide’. Both could be system names, but only one is. They also appear to have two main websites as well. Plus Adelaide goes way overboard with the number colours used for bus liveries, brochures etc.

    Sydney is its usual mess and I haven’t visited Brisbane to comment; though I believe they’re making progress with TransLInk.

    Transperth is head and shoulders above the rest; its branding is extremely strong everywhere on the system. IIRC even the train seat covers have the curved Transperth t logo.

    Adding to its strength has been its longevity; the Transperth name has been used since 1986 and there has only been one significant logo change in that time (from the square T to the curved T) a few years back. And even when Perth contracted out the buses in the 1990s the strong branding remained.

    3. Ticketing is another major area for branding. Especially as we’re changing to a new system this will assume increasing importance in the next few years.

    We should pay tribute to Metcard in the 1990s; they chose a name (though not a logo) that in the long term strengthened ‘The Met’ brand rather than weakened it.

    Myki, in contrast, is trying to be its own seperate brand in a cluttered market. Assuming it’s successful this will detract from rather than contribute to overall system branding. Even using Metlink style on its website and brochures would have helped enormously.

    Again Transperth got it right with SmartRider. While there is a new name ‘SmartRider’, it’s a logical extension to the established ‘MultiRider and is subservient to the main Transperth branding. This can be seen here where the card and paperwork is unmistakeably Transperth style:

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