Sunday 8 September 2013

Brand Spanking New [2]

Whether route branding is a "good thing" is often a matter of subjective taste. The X2 between Cardiff and Bridgend is a long established trunk route in South Wales.
It has been decorated in various guises, even under the ownership of First Bus ...
... but has recently gained brand spanking new buses in a glorious blue livery.
But, somehow, the gold and blue looks cluttered. First's chunky font seems to merge into an unreadable blob, not only in Welsh** ...
... but even in fbb's mother tongue.
To add to the clutter,  X2VALEEXPRESS  appears a second time ...
... presumably to allow extra clutter in the form of advertisements in the main bodyside frame. Perhaps the buses look better in the "flesh"; sometimes photography can be unkind.

Brands can be meaningless. Transport for London has established the all-pervading principle of red on red with red decoration, and then broken it with ...
... East London Transit. This was pre-announced as being a trendy guided bus and/or rapid transit project but materialised as little more than ordinary buses with different coloured blobs. fbb was decidedly underwhelmed when he sampled the brand. 

See "Delving into Dagenham Dock 4" (read again)
See "Delving into Dagenham Dock 5" (read again

First Bus has moved on hugely from the original one-size-fits-all "refreshed" livery. The idea of keeping the basic style and colours but adding local detail has much to commend it. Corporate identity is preserved but detailed references ground the image in terms that can be appreciated by, and attractive to, the local passenger.

Here is "Northern Lights" in Aberdeen ...
... and local branding for the X39 Bristol to Bath route.
These Streetlites have Clifton Suspension Bridge (Bristol) on one side and a Bath "cityscape" on the other. Although carrying a "strapline" for the X39, the buses do find their way on the 338 (via Keynsham, spelt K E Y N S H A M**) and the non-express evening and Sunday 339. But the image is obviously First, obviously Bristol and obviously Bath.

Which leads us to October 16th.

fbb has been invited to the launch of the new buses and the new image for Portsmouth's "Zip" branded route to "Clanfield" (formerly service 41).
Details have not yet been revealed by First, but hints in the invitation email (sadly not a decal edged card delivered by a liveried flunky) suggest that the "brand" will be extended to the former route 40 to Wecock Farm. These were renumbered 8 and 7 respectively in the big Portsmouth shake-up last year.

Also that email hinted at something to do with "stars" for the name. With Bluestar next door in Southampton ...
... and Stagecoach nearby at Bognor ...
... may this twinkle in First's eye be one astral advert too many? We must wait and see.
At least one alternative to Zip appears to have been rejected!

**1 - can't find a literal translation for Gwennoly Fro (or is it Gwennolyfro?)

**2 - happy memories of Horace Batchelor's "Infra-Draw" method (?)
and ... Talking of Brands
fbb is fascinated by the various ploys of retail businesses to tempt us to spend even more money on their products. This, from CostaLot in Wetherby:-
How about "embellished with Eastern Influence," catch the 25 to Ilford!
Then there was this in Megabucks at York Station:-
"Re-imagine" your late bus : imagine it's on time!

Just a few marketing ideas offered by fbb; no consultation fee required.

 Next Bus Blog : Monday 9th September 


  1. Using these small wheeled horrid street lites on inter urban services is hardly a step forward

  2. Ethiopia calls many things to mind, most notably Michael Buerk's famous report, but not "velvety with peppery spice". Or is that a reference to one of BlueStar's competitors?

  3. "Bws gwennol y fro"? Well, "gwennol" is Welsh for "swallow" (the bird). I hadn't come across "bws gwennol" before, but Mr Google suggests that the phrase is used to mean "shuttle bus" - perhaps because swallows dart to-and-fro? And talking of "fro"...

    "Bro" usually means something like country, region, this case, "Bro Morgannwg" is Vale of Glamorgan. And "y fro" is "the Vale" (the first letter of "bro" has mutated into "f", pronounced "v").

    So it's the shuttle bus of the Vale.

  4. Good to see a photo from Solenteer making it to your blog....

    Can't seen to see any credit though so I will do it. Good Picture Solenteer

  5. I think you will find that the blog owner just takes photos off Flickr without bothering to credit anyone. I hope for his sake I never find any of mine lifted and put on here....