Transport for NSW is the rather straightforward and completely non confusing name for the department (or ‘statutory authority’) of the New South Wales) government responsible for the state’s transport system that includes rail, light rail, buses, and ferries. Earlier this year a bouncy new brand identity was revealed, with the stated objective of reminding the people of Sydney of all that is good and great about their mass transportation system.
Update:The design credit has been wrongly attributed; Sydney-based LOUD is responsible.
The new brand, known as “The Hop”, provides an overarching integrated brand for public transport services and includes all modes — buses, trains, ferries and light rail — which will each be a separate colour.
The brand will be rolled out progressively across the network, starting with the new uniforms for Sydney Trains customer-facing staff.
The transport system for NSW is a large and multifaceted beast, and the above diagram demonstrates a system of adaptions for each of the transport options available to you when planning your journey. Each gets a color, extrapolated from the palette established in the main mark. Nothing groundbreaking here but the unification of the previously visually disjointed portfolio is a desirable, highly logical outcome that would make sense to even the most casual observer. My only misgiving would be the slightly counter-intuitive result where blue is assigned to the sub brand for buses, while ferries are given green — no doubt a very large, largely blue fleet of existing Sydney buses played a part in this particular compromise.
It’s become a somewhat predictable pattern with public sector rebrands in Australia that the first topics of discussion in the “lamestream” media (thank YOU Sarah Palin) is the cost, and questions of why an agency was needed at all. In their opinion, it’s always too expensive, and apparently every reporter knows a “local teenager” with a computer who could whip up the same logo in a few minutes.
Whilst I usually abhor this sort of facile argument, even the most cursory glance at the new logo has one wondering how the reported $600,000 budget paid to
South Africa based Loud Consulting Sydney-based LOUD was spent — it certainly wasn’t spent on research to ensure a unique solution, as the below comparison with the Tennis Australia logo shows — it’s a startling similarity.
Tennis Australia aside, a bouncing set of interconnecting lines — lending it a “The Hop” nickname — communicating ease and effortlessness when using the transport system would at first seem compelling. But it’s the sort of goofy early concept someone pins up on the wall and everyone in the review gives the benefit of the doubt at first, but never seriously considers it worth presenting. Unfortunately it appears this option not only got considered, a few gradients were thrown on, the distort tool in illustrator was used with scant regard for care or craft, and Helvetica Rounded was the natural choice to complete one of the more generic looking identities I’ve reviewed for Brand New.
Forgive me while indulge in a spot of parochialism, but it’s particularly disappointing when considering just how many branding agencies delivering world-class work reside right here in Sydney. Looking further afield, [There’s] a wonderful tradition of graphic design excellence when working with mass transport systems, from the iconic London Underground to Massimo Vignelli’s work with the NYC Subway or even the holy-crap-it’s-not-bad-for-a-design-competition outcome from last year’s rebrand of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency by Method. Perhaps when a designer or agency is faced with the prospect of seeing their work on signage, vehicle livery, and a myriad of other places, every day, they go that extra mile to make sure it’s something they can be proud of. Or at the very least ensure it doesn’t suck.
Thanks to Simeon King for the tip.