“Established by voter proposition in 1999, the SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency), a department of the City and County of San Francisco, oversees Muni (the historic Municipal Railway), parking and traffic, bicycling, walking and taxis. Over one million people get around San Francisco and rely on us to ensure safe and reliable travel.”
First, never fear, this new logo will exist alongside the beloved Muni “worm” logo. The new SFMTA logo has been carefully designed to bring together the primary two elements of the agency: Muni and the former Department of Parking and Traffic. The city’s transit system will still be Muni and its look will not change.
From the outset, we knew this new SFMTA brand would have to balance several needs. It would have to better connect us as an agency and make us easily identifiable to the public. It was also important that a new brand convey the SFMTA’s proud heritage as the operator of the oldest publicly owned transit agency in the country.
With all this in mind, we tested several logo designs with the public. And we heard that we should embrace the “M” logo. Just as “Muni” is short for San Francisco Municipal Railway, this “M” would stand for the “municipal” in the agency name. The letter part of the logo also pays homage to the Muni “worm” logo designed by Walter Landor in 1977. It’s funky and uniquely San Francisco. It also helps that “M” is frequently used in other large cities to symbolize transit services.
Images (opinion after)
The old logo, the result of a contest, was decent, with a transportation-y vibe of lanes/paths crossing and a peppy color palette but, perhaps, not San Francisco enough. When it comes to transportation and San Francisco there is probably no more iconic logo than the Muni’s “worm” logo, designed by Walter Landor in the 1970s. Adopting that logo’s “M” as the key identifier for the larger agency is a smart way to create an instant connection to what the agency does — although now, the agency might just come across as the one that handles buses but I think the addition of the more bureaucratic-looking “SFMTA” wordmark makes it feel more like a bigger city entity. The “M” looks great on its own and sits neatly in the blue square — on its own, it’s like a trippy face smiling at you. The gray rectangle with the “SFMTA” is as dry as it gets but it tempers the playfulness of the “M”. Overall, and not being a San Francisco resident, I don’t know if this logo creates more confusion or solves the issue of clarifying who SFMTA is and what it does.
Thanks to Rafal Dudziec for the tip.