Recently I designed the new identity for this organisation, a charity and not for profit with the aim of reinstating a regular service to currently disused railway lines running through the city. The group formed in 2003 but after a bit of restructuring they’re planning on a relaunch later this year in a bid to attract more support and increase membership.
I’ve talked about trains on this blog before. We love our railways in the UK, but we seem to be confused about what a train is. It seems the ones we like are those funny old round ones powered by steam. The ones we decommissioned decades ago in favour of more efficient, faster and more relevant ones powered by diesel or electricity, the kind that don’t require a grubby man with a shovel to feed coal into a boiler.
It’s 2011, and these guys wanted to show that they were a modern group with modern aims. This isn’t a heritage railway project set up to satiate the desires of steam buffs. This is a practical, forward looking transport initiative working hard to bring a useful and relevant service to normal, everyday people who are at the minute reliant on cars or a patchy and infrequent bus service.
In search of modernity, naturally I headed straight to the 1960s. During the initial briefing it was agreed that the British Rail identity from that decade was something to aim for, so I got to work trying to capture that, but without using arrows of any description. Arrows are a hackneyed device at the best of times, but they’re all over the railways.
It’s been a funny job, this one. The organisation at the minute exists as a community campaign group, but in the future they may, or may not, be involved in the actual running of a railway. The best course of action for them to move forward is still unclear, so any identity has to be as open ended as the group is. It’s a strange client to have really – one that can’t say for sure what sort of client it might be in a years’ time.
Right now they don’t have much money kicking around, so bar a few higher budget bits of literature to get the word out, there’s probably going to be a lot of photocopies being handed around at various events the group attends. Any graphic design used in this way needs to be clear enough to survive such treatment, but at the same time it could well be seen in the future in all its full colour glory from a moving train window. So it has to stand up to that, it can’t look cheap.
Simplicity was key really. I had to focus specifically on those aspects of the group that are permanent. We know what the end result wants to be, we know the goal, so we’ll focus on that. That way, the content of the logo is also something to aim for.
Of course, as with all logos, it needed to be versatile and easily recognisable. And it needed to be of a style that distanced itself from the stuffy vintage image so frequently the distraction of the sector. This is a group that is serious about reinstating the rail service and goes about its business with an eye on the future, not on the past.
The stationery is similarly simple, with a bit more colour used on the batch of leaflets they’ve so far had printed up. I thought it was quite important that any literature they put out made their new, refreshed aims perfectly clear, so I pushed for the bold use of the mission statement on the front cover.
They only had 50 of these done. It was a bit of a last minute rush job for an event the group was attending, so they’re nothing special. To keep costs down they were printed on quite a flimsy stock and the layout is rather uninspiring because of the time constraints, the large amount of copy and a lack of inspiring imagery. Cheap and cheerful, they did their job fine but I’m working on something a bit more substantial at the moment which will involve a bit of photography and some nifty folding. I’ll share when I get the green light.
In an earlier blog, completely without context at that time, I posted a Harry Beck homage route map I produced for the group, designed to illustrate how their plan integrates with the city’s current and proposed public transport network. Apparently it’s proved quite a useful tool in convincing people how valuable the project is, which shows how a picture can say a thousand words. I also designed and built their website which can be seen here.