Monday, April 23, 2018

Public Transit Branding Guide: 6 Stops to Success

"If you can sell transit, you can sell anything."
– A Hornsby Brand Design client.

Transit agencies, like all organizations, have their own brand. Unfortunately for many, that brand perception is not very good. To be blunt, it's horrible! Creating appeal for riding public transit is--quite frankly--an uphill battle (pun intended). However, the opportunity is bright. With the onset of nightmare traffic, increasing commuter expenses, and sweat-of-the-brow stress, public transportation is gaining momentum and popularity, especially in large urban areas.

So how can transit agencies better "toot their own horn", increase their ridership, and most of all, piggyback on to this new momentum? Glad you asked.

6 brand strategy stops:
  1. Identify your riders. As you may already know, understanding your demographic and leveraging that knowledge to create an effective marketing campaign is paramount. In general, there are three types of transit riders:
  • Those who rely completely on transit. These riders are the main core of transit passengers and may include workers, students, low-income families, older adults, and persons with disabilities. They typically are limited in the mode of transportation they use.
  • Those who need transit temporarily. These riders may include tourists; people who normally drive, but have a preventative injury or a suspended license or their car is "in the shop."
  • Those who choose to ride transit. These choice riders are usually environmentally- or economically-conscious commuters, or people who just find transit more convenient than dealing with the hassles of traffic and automobile maintenance and expenses.
  1. Introduce riders to a new way of thinking about public transit. Promote the strength of community building through transit. Encourage buy-in and civic responsibility through positive campaigns. Put your best foot forward with cleanliness, courtesy, timeliness, and responsiveness. Have each employee with public contact trained in conscientious engagement, and be sure to reflect this in all touch points.
  2. Highlight stories from people who come from different walks of life. The human connection...people love and identify with great stories, so connect with a diverse public by communicating a wide variety of transit tales that personify the agency, its employees, and its riders.
  3. Use relevant copy and visuals. Many government agencies are guilty of government-speak and acronyms wrapped in dry, boring government visuals. Step away from the government mindset and embrace the elements that bolster relevant, positive messages.
         Know that a marketing professional understands the true essence of your brand. He/she will incorporate your brand's values and unique selling propositions, all essential to defining your creative identity. Whether you’re developing a brochure, a website, or a full brand identity, this strategic process executed properly will ensure that all visuals tell the right story for the brand. It is no exaggeration to state that neglecting this key ingredient will lead to a disconnect with the consumer.
  4. Promote cutting-edge technology. Constantly champion the latest services and technological features that will appeal to new riders such as onboard wifi, bike racks, online ticket purchases, transit apps, trip planners, SMS alerts, etc.
  5. Head It off at the pass: Communicate transit projects, road/bridge construction, weather conditions, quickly and concisely. Have a "PR damage control" plan in place with all key personnel on board before something happens in order to ensure a smooth and professional communications plan. Shining a light on your transit agency's proactive problem solving skills will go a long way to alleviating rider stress and it will build trust to boot.
Hornsby Brand Design has extensive experience in public transit branding and marketing. Let us help. Contact: See our portfolio here of award-winning work.

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