Onboarding a bi-state community around one unified brand.
BRAND STRATEGY • NAMING • BRAND IDENTITY • COLLATERAL • WEBSITE • VIDEO/MOTION • COPYWRITING
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. This means that advertising and sponsorships have a clean and lovely palette ready to be used.
In the end, we demonstrated that even the simplest identities can exude huge personalities. The icon seems universal but has a wink of personality and is adaptable to multiple applications.
Today, the Streetcar ridership continues to remain strong, over 2 million rides and average daily ridership of 5, 645 in 2017, doubling all predictions. Streetcar riders live and work in downtown KC, with 43% of downtown riders taking it to work. Three quarters of those on board are locals and 24% are visitors.
A recent survey of downtown businesses revealed that 97% of respondents credited the streetcar with having a positive impact on their business and 80% have experienced a positive change in revenue. The next expansion is already in front of voters with a proposed extension that unites downtown with the UMKC Campus.