Re-defining Brand Ecosystem of BMTC buses

Nature inspired new graphical identity

Bangalore is multicultural and multilingual, always vibrating and pulsating with life. It has pockets of modernity and tradition, affluence and poverty, literacy and ill-literacy, a very colorful history and a promising future.
So when it comes to Bangalore’s lifeline, BMTC buses, the major concern for commuters was how to identify the nature of service of moving buses from a distance or at night? Especially when one doesn’t know how to read English / Kannada or when in peak hours due to huge crowd even the bus numbers are not visible from a distance.
The situation was escalating as a giant communication challenge for BMTC and there was a need to develop an intuitive visual identity based on colors / symbols, which can be easily recognized by one and all.
The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), the sole public bus transport provider for Bangalore which serves urban, sub-urban and rural areas, duly recognized commuter’s discomfort and approached Idiom Design & Consulting to create easily identifiable cohesive look for their buses.

Project intent:
To design a visual solution that brings effective brand architecture to all BMTC buses.

Background:
Founded in 1997, BMTC acts an agent for cultural synthesis and national integration. BMTC has approximately 15 types of buses, and a total of 6700 buses active within Bangalore, operated through 41 depots and 52 bus stations, transporting around 5.2 million people every day.
BMTC is committed to provide quality, safe, reliable, clean and affordable travel. In an effort to modernize its services for commuter comfort, BMTC strives to strengthen information systems and improve processes through introduction of intelligent technology solution, in the near future.

THE BRIEF
BMTC had multiple buses and series with different branding, in different colors and designs. Idiom was approached to create brand architecture for BMTC buses that can be easily identified by the passengers.

Hopping On:
At Idiom, our guiding thought was how can we increase range of BMTC’s customer base and make it the preferred mode of transport? Also how can we make BMTC the pride of Bangalore and eventually Karnataka?

Process:
Idiom believes that public transport can add real value to the city by being better integrated within its wider context. A better public image attracts riders, leading to higher revenues and greater demand for transit services. The greater demand, in turn increases the budget for improvements and expansion, making public transport even more attractive.

So, we started our journey by studying some global benchmarks in public transport and taking inspirations from their brand thoughts, operational characteristics, technology integration, and branding & communication exercises esp. from VIVA BRT York region, Canada and SEOUL public bus system, South Korea. We got to learn the benefits of a simplified system of service unified under one brand thought, which can make the brand look more user-friendly, appealing and approachable. We also got to discover the benefits of effectively educating and communicating the public about the change; before, during and after; which helps people warm-up, understand and appreciate the system, hence boost usage.

Further in our journey, we tried to understand the problems/ opportunities in the current system by understanding existing bus routes, operational system, and all consumer touch points. Consumer journey maps: waiting, identifying, boarding, seating and de-boarding; were identified and decoded. The whole idea was to ensure that the customer needs are met and effectively communicated, before and during the journey.

Idiom used design to create a solution and simplified the multiple fleets (approx. 15 types) of BMTC to 3 major color-coded bus systems, which are easily comprehendible.

The design inspiration came from nature and the city ‘Bangalore’ which is known as ‘City of Lakes’ and ‘Garden City of India’. However when in 2015 Bangalore was named as the 2nd most polluted city in India (air pollution), it gave us a reason to reflect.

At Idiom, we tried to give the greenery back to the city. We also tried to encapsulate the intelligence, spirit of growth, harmony, freshness and success of the city Bangalore.

bmtc2

By categorizing and identifying buses based on their broad features, benefits and uses; names, explaining the purpose / nature of service of the buses have been suggested and implemented.

bmtc1

The grouped and identified colors with the corresponding services provided are identified as:

  1. “Green Series – for Ordinary, Big Trunk and Big Circle services” – Ordinary Fare
  2. “Orange Series – for Feeder services ” – Ordinary Fare
  3. “Blue Series – for Vajra and Vayu Vajra services” –A.C. Fare

The design elements have been inspired by nature and the routes taken by the buses:

bmtc3

Harmonization details have been coded and many consumer relevant applications / technological features have been suggested, e.g.: printing all the window bus ads on one way vinyls to allow people inside to see the bus stops, intercom, categorization and standardization of seats across buses, highlighting safety instructions in Kannada & English, marking de-boarding stops, enhancing bus color visibility at night by using category color specific LED and reflector strip of same color.

Where are we now?

New graphical identities of BMTC buses were soft launched on Feb., 2015 at Freedom Park, Bangalore. The full-fledged launch is in process.

Using user-centric design methodology, Idiom has tried to address commuter’s pain points and enhance user safety, comfort and experience. We are looking forward for your feedback. The buses are in your court!!!

Client’s perspective:

Resp. Dr. Ekroop Caur, IAS, Managing Director- BMTC, explaining the role of design in BMTC brand architecture project:

“Service brands need to create imagery around them. Before this branding exercise, BMTC had multiple buses and series with different branding, in different colors and designs. We wanted to simplify the bus system, making it more user-friendly, appealing and approachable.

 By categorizing and identifying buses based on their broad features, benefits and routes, Idiom design and consulting has created a very strong and cohesive visual architecture for BMTC buses by simplifying the multiple fleets into 3 major categories. They have created a color-coded bus system, which is easily identifiable by the commuters, even from a distance or at night. This was very important for us that from distance commuters should be able to identify the nature of service of moving bus.

We are hoping that brand-led design thinking from Idiom will help BMTC to create a very positive and strong imagery among the commuters making it the preferred mode of transport, among plethora of choices available with other public/ private transport options.”

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