OH&Co rebrands railroad giant

One of the most widely recognised corporate identities in the US is to be replaced after 29 years. Railroad company Amtrak is introducing a new identity in a bid to help communicate other changes now being implemented. New York consultancy Oppenheimer Haueter & Co is responsible for the new look.

Last week the rail company introduced an “unconditional guarantee of guest satisfaction”, which it claims is a first among US travel companies. “This Satisfaction Guarantee represents our promise to travellers that Amtrak will treat you like a guest and make service excellence the central focus of everything we do,” says Governor Tommy Thompson, the company’s chairman of the board of directors.

The guarantee is one of a number of changes, introduced as part of a plan to meet a Congressional mandate that Amtrak improves its financial performance and achieves operational self-sufficiency by 2003. A 1 per cent increase in passenger retention would increase revenues by $13m (£8.6m), the company calculates. Amtrak operates 22 000 miles of intercity tracks, serving 45 states.

The new Travel Mark replaces the former inverted arrow logo. “A new Amtrak needs a new brand identity,” says George Warrington, Amtrak president and chief executive officer.

The new image is intended to serve as a master brand, and an endorsement for sub-brands. It will be introduced gradually, in a “cost conscious manner”, over a period of at least two years. It introduces a new Amtrak Blue corporate colour, while retaining the Amtrak name, which the company considers to be too valuable to discard.

“Change in a brand’s appearance for the sake of change means nothing if there is nothing of value behind it,” says OH&Co managing partner Robin Haueter. “Under the new [brand] architecture, Amtrak is bringing greater rationality and consistency to the numerous service names it inherited during its formation almost 30 years ago.”

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