As designers responsible for the brand identity development of three train operating companies with the National Express Rail Group, we were surprised to read so little of that group’s sophisticated brand development practices in your feature “Getting on Track” (MW March 26).
NEG has recognised that the railway companies need the freedom to respond to their particular customer and staff requirements, since each regional market has different customer profiles and service needs. This has led to the establishment of autonomous brand development and communication strategies – a significant advance from pre-privatisation communication, which largely assumed homogeneity of need across the network.
It is entirely wrong to imagine that clients “believe that a lick of paint will change their image”. Train operators know that brand development begins with a decision to focus themselves as regionally responsive service providers; the signalling of brand values through logos and liveries is a logical development of such a decision. In some cases the physical manifestation of change has been a catalyst of change, a useful means of managing internal and external audiences’ expectations.
Apart from the pride felt by corporate designers such as ourselves, surely it is more important to know where an identity is going, rather than from whence it came?
Senior account director
Saatchi & Saatchi Design