Established in 2003, SŽDC (Správa železniční dopravní cesty for long, “Railway Infrastructure Administration” in English) is the owner and operator of national and regional railways owned by the Czech Republic and serves České dráhy (Czech Railways), the main commuter trains and ČD Cargo, the freight trains. In January, SŽDC issued a tender to redesign its identity with four firms competing and last month announced the winner, introducing a new identity that will begin implementation in December 2018, designed by Prague-based Studio Marvil.
“We are all aware of the complexity of our organization’s name itself. We are often perceived by the general public as part of the so-called railways or historically connected with the Czech Railways. We want a simple way, through a clear logo, to present the importance and position of SŽDC,” says Jiri Svoboda, Deputy Director General of SŽDC. […]
The current SŽDC logo has several forms with a number of unprofessional interventions, making it difficult to identify the organization correctly. It does not allow simple application in all graphical environments as well as in small sizes. Moreover, it does not cover all areas of activity of SŽDC. This is not covered by a regular license agreement.
The initial Ž stylized as a rails scheme - three parallel railway tracks linked by a railroad switch. We have chosen the letter Ž as an abreviation for Railway (Železnice in Czech), which sums up the otherwise long and not easily memorable name of the company - The Railway Infrastructure Administration (abbreviated in Czech as SŽDC). Symbol Ž effectively renders the company generally intelligible and comprehensible.
The old logo could have been pretty good with some extra rounds of refinement. The “Ž” had a clever way of integrating the caron (the diacritic) and it would have been nice to see that attention to detail extended to the rest of the execution. Nonetheless, the old logo looked like a transportation logo — not the best at it but it got the point across. The new logo keeps the emphasis on the “Ž” and creates a lovely and smart monogram that not only looks like a “Ž” but clearly also represents a train track with a railway switch. The extended width of the icon is quite nice and a very welcome change of pace from icons and monograms made to fit in a square for social media purposes. The wordmark, in Commercial Type’s Styrene, is straightforward and has a bold, industrial, no-nonsense appearance that goes well with a rail management company.
All the applications are renders and it remains to be seen whether these get produced as ambitiously as they are presented here. If yes, then this will look great. I love how the monogram is used full bleed in some of the applications, reinforcing the idea that you are looking at a segment of railroad tracks. Just as well, it looks great small. The multi-line, swoopy pattern used above, and in the logo animation, is cool to look at but somehow it’s too fuzzy or too delicate with the rest of the boldness around it.
Again, it’s hard to tell how hardcore the implementation will be, but if the sad yellow trains with the existing livery change to these bad-ass orange and blue designs, they are going to be some fine-looking trains worth Czech-ing out. (Sorry.) Overall, this is a great evolution that maintains the gravitas of the organization and provides an icon possibly on par with other classic railway logos like CN, NH, and British Rail. Possibly. We’ll have to Czech in on it in 20 years. (Sorry, not sorry.)