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What Are Best Practices in Transit Branding, Marketing and Communications?
You can see elements of LA Metro uniform design guidelines across various print materials. This helps maintain a unified brand so that the agency is easily recognizable to its customers and other stakeholders. Photo by EMBARQ

You can see elements of LA Metro uniform design guidelines across various print materials. This helps maintain a unified brand so that the agency is easily recognizable to its customers and other stakeholders. Photo by EMBARQ

EMBARQ, the producer of this blog, is preparing a new guidebook for cities and transit agencies about the importance of branding, marketing and communications when creating new transit services. This publication will be a very visual guide to best practices seen in cities around the world. We need your help! While we know of many good examples from cities we have visited or worked with, we wanted to give you, TheCityFix readers, a chance to tell us what great examples of marketing, branding and communications strategies you’ve seen for public transit.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND…

As the world becomes wealthier and more urban, mass transportation will play an increasingly important role in combating climate change, public health epidemics and growing social inequality. In order to be successful, public transport has to compete with the private automobile on two fronts: it needs to attract riders out of their cars, and it needs to attract attention and investment from political leaders at all levels.

In the developing world, in particular, where cities are facing increasing motorization, public transport must fight for the hearts and minds of citizens and political leaders – a battle which is currently being lost.

York Regional Transit advertises it's VIVA BRT service, with a clever catch line.  The ad reads: "Some things are meant to be together" and features a ketchup bottle and french fries, a salt and pepper shaker, and then a YRT bus and a VIVA bus.

York Regional Transit advertises it's VIVA BRT service with a clever catch line. The ad reads: "Some things are meant to be together" and features a ketchup bottle and french fries, a salt and pepper shaker, and then a YRT bus and a VIVA bus. Photo by EMBARQ.

Each year, car manufacturers spend billions of dollars selling their products, cultivating their customer base, and creating and maintaining their images.  In 2009, major auto companies spent a whopping $21 billion worldwide on measured media advertising. Public transport agencies need to recognize this and get savvy in marketing, branding and communications, too.

For the guidebook, we’ve identified 8 main categories or “elements” of a comprehensive branding, marketing and communications plan:

  1. System brand – logos, color schemes, vehicle designs & wraps
  2. Internal communication – organizational action plans, brand training
  3. User education – special event outreach, school programs, free trials, user guides
  4. User information systems – maps & diagrams, timetables, wayfinding systems
  5. Marketing campaign – print ads, guerrilla marketing, TV & radio spots, “freebies”
  6. Public relations & external communications – press kit, media plan, neighborhood notices
  7. Feedback systems – call centers, comment cards
  8. Online presence – website, social media, mobile apps

HOW TO HELP

Does your city do a good job in one or more of these categories?  Or have you seen a great example while visiting another city? Share it with us! We especially want ideas from cities in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

There are several ways that you can share your favorites:

Tweet us @TheCityFix with the hashtag #transitcomms.

Submit photos to our Flickr pool.

Post a photo on our Facebook page.

E-mail ideas to eweber@wri.org.

And of course, you can always just leave a comment, below.

Thanks for sharing!