for over 30 years we've been ahead of the curve when it comes to understanding how public transport is presented, perceived and promoted, we call it . . .creating desire
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Designing the whole identity for London Midland (even inventing the name) and being involved with the successful and well-ordered roll-out, showcases Best Impressions’ professionalism, expertise and understanding of effective brand communication and management. We positioned London Midland as an all-day every-day, egalitarian, down-to-earth rail operator with a clean, sharp contemporary style to give it a strong character and easy-to-like personality.
We cleverly adapted the livery to suit and enhance the architecture of its fleet of varying train types, turning, for example, the ugly duckling class 323 units into something approaching a swan! We developed a bespoke font for London Midland, designed all the signage and went on to produce many advertising campaigns over its tenure of the franchise. In order to establish London Midland’s place in the pecking order, particularly against Virgin who ran between some of the same destinations.
These campaigns weren’t afraid to make the train the hero to reinforce the company's credentials and pride in being who it was and what it did. Including television and online, all were tracked and proved to produce excellent return on investment, and several were award-winners.
People remember names more easily than numbers (look at Trentbarton’s and Blazefield’s use of names for prime identifiers of many bus routes, which we’ve been involved in over the years). So when Uno in Hatfield wanted to give a few of their routes into the university town greater distinction, we worked with them to build strong local synergy and pride by using names associated with the aircraft building that once took place on the site where the University of Hertfordshire now is.
The deHavilland Dragonfly was in the 1930s a stylish ‘executive’ 4-seater, and we have paid tribute to these beautiful flying machines with what is now the Dragonfly route, but given it a twist by using the beautiful insect as the main visual theme, although the aircraft connection is lovingly explained in a strong visual inside.
Our styling of these bus interiors included a specially designed sofa and stories about lesser-known places along the line of route. All of this helps the bus service achieve a bespoke, unique character that translates into affinity and affection, builds loyalty and creates desire.
Streaking between London, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland, these trains shout speed, efficiency and the Virgin brand values in a contemporary, arresting vision.
When Stagecoach, with Virgin, won the prestigious East Coast inter-city rail franchise in 2015 and decided to brand it Virgin, they knew we would know how to bring the Virgin brand values to make the fleet of inter-city trains look sexy and stylish, and create desire for travel on this route.
With our ability to tease out the character and personality inherent in vehicle architecture, and knowing intuitively how to make colour, shape and form enhance each other, we have designed another modern icon.
Our latest incarnation of the famous 36 route between Ripon, Harrogate and Leeds has helped raise this pioneering bus route to a whole new level, and convert more people to choosing the 36 as their preferred mode of travel.
It’s gone down a storm, thanks to attention to detail, like contrast twin stitching on soft Muirhead black and charcoal leather with lipstick red headrests, for example.
Sharing a common vision for this route with the team at Harrogate Bus Company meant it was easy to progress better seating arrangements (instead of the obsession of cramming too many uncomfortable seats in the wrong places) and add stylish touches to enhance the whole travelling experience.
Then there is that wickedly seductive black and red couture livery to complement the vehicles’ architecture and make this truly a statement brand that really does create desire . . .
Which, as you must know by now, is exactly what we’re all about.
Understanding and respecting train architecture - its rhythms, resonances, form and function - is the first step to creating a stunning livery.
Our livery designs strive to accentuate any inherent personality that lies within the architecture of any vehicle or, conversely, mitigate any awkwardness in the vehicle design. Livery and form then have natural sympathy and, brought together through good design, communicate far more effectively.
Add in our unbridled passion, clear vision, effervescent enthusiasm and in-depth understanding of the South West Trains brand, and you can see how our use of full-on, bold, primary colours balanced with outrageous, sexy curves gave these commuter trains - and other rolling stock types in the South West Trains fleet - a vibrant, contemporary, stylish tilt for two decades.
The King’s City has rekindled the strong link between the bus network and the city it serves, embracing the spirit and character of the ancient city of Winchester with a modern twist.
Despite its centuries of heritage and kingly associations, Winchester is very much a thrusting modern city with modern businesses and quite an affluent, sophisticated population. Therefore, the image and presentation, although building on heritage, had to be smart, clean and contemporary, and win the hearts and minds of the local population, local businesses and stakeholders.
Long live the King!
There is no hard and fast rule as to what a map should look like, other than be attractive, enticing and give you the right information to use the transport system they are showing with confidence.
The best maps are those that draw you in, then either encourage you to linger and explore if that’s their purpose or tell you what you need to know in an instant. Too complicated and they overwhelm, too simple and they fail to give you that confidence you need.
We always find the best solution to the problem, whether it’s a trip into the country or to the seaside, making a complex network easy-to-follow, or showing you where to get on and off in town.
Our approaches are varied but our maps always display the Best Impressions’ hallmarks of clarity and purpose. And they look gorgeous, too, always creating desire for public transport.
You'll find it's a fast-changing world out there and it’s encouraging when the more forward-thinking operators discover new market opportunities or are looking at ways to make their offerings more relevant to the markets they serve.
Transdev Blazefield, under the command of the energetic Alex Hornby, launched its first CityZap in 2016 and started getting impressive results almost from day one. This set out to exploit the need for rapid, non-stop, turn-up-and-go high quality city-to-city bus travel aimed in part at the price-savvy but also creating an viable alternative to the train.
Best Impressions was there at the beginning, creating a cool, contemporary brand that was in perfect tune with the market it set out to serve and captured the imagination, and we designed the suite of publicity to go with it.
Within areas of scenic beauty, lovely market towns and pretty villages, we should be doing our best to encourage modal shift and make repeated leisure trips by bus a no brainier, especially if the product is attractive in terms of frequency, comfort and convenience.
First improved frequencies and upgraded the buses on a network of routes out of Bath into the Wiltshire and East Somerset hinterland, which they wanted to brand as Discover, to encourage more tourism by bus. At Best Impressions we got to work to produce a livery that gave the buses stand-out in their area yet were clearly part of the First product range.
We also designed a full suite of attractive tourist-focused marketing collateral, based on the theme ‘so much to discover, just a bus ride away’ including bus stop flags along the line of route to inspire greater confidence in using the services. Results were immediate with ridership increasing almost from day one.