Virgin Trains station rebrand designed by Fitch London officially arrived at Manchester Piccadilly this week, heralding the first stage in the operator’s long journey towards harmonising its corporate visual style across its network.
London Euston is set to be rebranded by early 2003, after which more of the 113 stations Virgin Trains pass through will be brought into line with the red and silver corporate palette.
Rebranding is viewed as a project that will develop with every change to the passenger timetable, says Virgin Trains marketing communications manager Clodagh Buckley.
‘Bringing the brand to life in stations is the key business driver behind the project. We want to bring a ‘Virgin-ness’ to the railways. We have developed a new range of materials, some of which are revolutionary for the industry, such as instructions for using timetables,’ she adds.
Fitch is overhauling every aspect of the departures and arrivals experience, from station signage, ticket purchasing and wayfinder systems to micro-branding like stationery and computer badging.
The project is handicapped because Virgin only fully operates 21 of the stations used by its trains. Elsewhere, the operator shares control with a number of companies, thus complicating re-branding.
One possible solution proposed by Fitch is for Virgin to sponsor station revamps in partnership with Railtrack, soon to be superseded by Network Rail, whereby new facilities like waiting rooms and signage will sport the operator’s livery.
‘The project is not a straightforward logo-slap,’ says Fitch design director Simon Moriarty.
‘The challenge is to convey the brand in a crowded environment that we don’t always control and is often ageing.’
Fitch won the work via a credentials pitch in summer 2001 against two unnamed groups.