Branding is Essential: River Valley Transit

Branding is essential when merging multiple organizations into a single successful entity. This is especially true when the intention is for the newly combined organization to not be absorbed into either one.

This is the power of the combination of branding, wayfinding and placemaking. Through the expert melding of these distinct disciplines, we not only craft a new, authentic identity; a new, congruent experience is created.

When it came time for Middletown Transit and 9 Town Transit to merge together, to better serve their communities, their intention was to create a newly combined entity, which exuded the authentic story of who they are collectively, who they serve and the experience of that service. It was imperative to go beyond merely slapping a new name and logo on an old system. Their desire was to use this as an opportunity to reinvent themselves to better serve their community.

Through a RFP process, Selbert Perkins Design was selected to help them guide this process.

“We like the personality of Selbert Perkins. We like the size and content of their presentation and we really felt that it had a personality so much to ours… and we were right. We’ve felt blessed with this alliance since day one“. — Leslie Strauss, Chairman of the Board, Estuary Transit District, DBA River Valley transit.

The feeling is mutual. The entire team at the Estuary Transit District are a delight, were completely engaged and committed to the process of developing a brand to celebrate the District and establish a powerful vision for the future.

Our shared goals were to “Create” a unified and authentic message to audiences both within and outside of the local area. “Develop” a unique visual and verbal identity system that drives engagement and builds brand equity. “Engage” stakeholders and the public to create ownership of the new brand. “Build” community confidence and renewed excitement among residents and staff.

In order to tell any authentic story, extensive Research & Discovery process was conducted to fully understand each of the separate entities prior to the merger. Key stakeholders within and outside of the two organizations were interviewed. Focus groups were conducted with partners and most importantly the team had to explore the Connecticut River Valley to get a feel for the people and places the new transit company would serve.

Stakeholder interviews are key!

In order to understand what people think, you have to ask them. We conducted extensive interviews with transit administration, drivers, staff, board members, town representatives, cultural centers as well as the residents themselves.

From these interviews, a community-based consensus was formed and became the framework for both form and function of the new combined transit district.

One of the resounding conclusions was that the new organization be green (both literally and figuratively).

“We wanted to keep our Connecticut river Valley, friendly, clean, beautiful, green, and blue, as well as very approachable.”

The new name, River Valley Transit, the color scheme and logo embodies both the place and people; conveying not only an authentic identity—from the buses to the wayfinding and signage were carefully orchestrated to provide more than mere transit. They combine to create an experience to be enjoyed.

“Well, the importance of having the place in the name and the logo, that was something that we heard pretty much in every single interview. It was about enjoying the trip and going beyond travel, and becoming a more of an experience“. — Joe Comerford, Executive Director, Estuary Transit District, DBA River Valley transit

One area in which we paid particular attention was the design of the new website. According to stakeholders, for many riders, their experience begins there. Not only does the site need to be beautiful and convey the new identity, it needed to be extremely easy and intuitive to navigate. Riders need to quickly understand how to use the transit system in order to get to their desired destination. The routes, schedules and then booking a ride needed to be easy, fast and hassle-free.

Selbert Perkins Design partnered with Facta Studio, a UX based firm that helped us execute the goals and objectives for such a complex service based web experience.

It is an extreme pleasure working with the amazing leadership team at Estuary Transit District, as well as the River Valley Transit team to assist them in reimagining themselves in order to better serve their community.

For more than 30 years, through our studios in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Shanghai, Selbert Perkins Design has created some of the most successful and iconic projects around the globe.

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