South Central all change to attract new passengers

Rail operator South Central is working with Brand Environment to refresh branding across its entire service, in a project worth £220 000 in fees to the group.

Brand Environment will revamp train interiors, apply branding across uniforms and communications material, design a station ‘masterplan’, signage, guidelines and deliver strategy for staff behaviour and customer experience.

The project is due for completion in May 2004, with the first interiors expected to roll out from December. Brand Environment won the work last summer after a creative paid pitch against Roundel and Fitch London.

The company is changing its name to Southern to indicate the broader reach of the network, which runs from London to Brighton and along the coast to Arundel and Portsmouth. Naming and identity is by Roundel, which designed the logo over three years ago as part of South Central’s latest franchise bid, says Southern brand manager Andrew Ayers.

According to Brand Environment director Joe Mitchell, the group aims to ‘redefine how customers interact with the service’ and position the brand in the same vein as a ‘solid, grounded retailer such as Marks & Spencer’.

‘South Central is a brand competing with other network brands generally for recognition. It is no different in that respect to a retail brand,’ he explains.

Ayers says South Central is seeking to improve the entire experience for customers, from buying tickets on-line to car parks at stations. It is also aiming to attract more off-peak customers.

The consultancy is also addressing the issue of retail offerings on station platforms and plans to introduce more bespoke services, such as independent-run cafés rather than chain outlets like Starbucks.

A decision on which group will undertake the physical design work on stations has yet to be made, says Ayers.

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