RideKC Streetcar

Onboarding a bi-state community around one unified brand.


In January of 2014, Willoughby was chosen by the Kansas City Streetcar Authority to create the brand identity system for the streetcar. Simultaneously, we engaged with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to develop a new regional brand. Because we knew the streetcar would be a pivotal addition to the regional system, it was important to make sure that it integrated with the day-to-day transportation environment that was also going through a unification.

So we traveled down parallel paths to create two brands that would need to stand alone through different timelines, stakeholders and approval processes but, at the end of the day, would need to stand together with a strong and united message.

We began by examining  best practices in transportation design around the world, researching successes and failures alike, to discover what could work (and not work) for Kansas City. We consulted with many of our city’s longtime advocates who have been working to bring a streetcar to KC for decades. Not surprisingly, we all agreed that the most successfully branded systems were intuitive, flexible, memorable and simple.

The end result was a new name for the unified regional transit system: Ride KC. Keeping the rest simple was a challenge. We wanted a system that would stand the test of time. Instead of picking colors for the streetcar that would halt you in your tracks, we went with classic white and silver. The icon seems universal but has a wink of personality.

In the end, we demonstrated that even the simplest identities can exude huge personalities. In a few campaigns we should some humor and fun.

Today the RideKC Streetcar is more successful than anticipated with ridership at ##%. It appears that extensions to the line will happen quicker too, as riders want it in their neighborhood. Business and development along the corridor has increased ##%.