Trentbarton is a bus company that gives out gin & tonics on Friday evenings. Their drivers are the friendliest you’ll ever meet. Every one of their routes is individually branded with clear, concise information to help people confidently find their way, and decorative illustrations to turn a journey into an adventure; all my own work. So it’s not surprising how much I enjoyed creating this new brand identity and tone of voice.
I started it all by visualising “Trentbarton land” - how they refer to the places you can go to on their buses - and so one by one each of their routes has inspired an illustrated landscape, populated by the Bods, little characters made of the coloured circles from their bow & arrow logo.
Launch of Rainbow One and Rapid One
The exterior of the bus is simple and striking. The interior is light, bright, and formed predominantly of a harmonious blue, silver & grey colour palette. I created the "coves"; vinyl running the length of the interior above the windows. These provide information in an engaging, visually compelling style.
I designed a brand new printed timetable and guide to using the bus. This is part of a suite of these guides on display on the wall of the Trentbarton shop in Nottingham and available on board every bus. See further down the page for examples.
Scroll through the coves below (applied above the windows) to see how I've promoted the features of Trentbarton.
The Trentbarton website was redesigned in 2013 and I continued to provide many web assets for a few years following, as well as designing all maps for the site.
The Sixes and Little Sixes
The Sixes routes incorporate some beautiful countryside heading into the Peak District. I have designed the branding to encourage people in the towns around Derby to head into the hills for days out. Promotion appears on the buses but also at points of contact all along the route. From 6 sheets at bus shelters, to maps in town squares and roadside displays, the yellow rolling hills are seen everywhere from Derby to Bakewell.
Show, don't tell - this is always a philosophy I adopt. I think it's pointless to tell people the bus is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the car, because they know that. So all things Trentbarton make people want to travel, not merely accept that they have to. I make it look fun and easy. Wherever you look, information is clear and readily available. The drivers welcome you onto the bus. The timetables are clear yet decorative. And sometimes you might be offered a complementary breakfast on board.
At this point you can imagine the Last of the Summer Wine theme tune.
Trentbarton run over 40 routes, each with their own tailored identity. Here are some further examples in brief of route branding I have designed and rolled out.
Amberline interior mural.
The Rushcliffe Greens welcome cove.
Below is the first timetable leaflet I designed in the new Trentbarton style, and it became the template for future printed material. Timetables are notoriously complex and unwelcoming. I made the timetable beds simple and elegant so it's quick to find a departure, and I introduced a uniformity to the colours and graphic devices.
Rushcliffe Greens coves
The most important thing to me is imagining how the world can be different and better, not curating what already exists. Nothing in the bus industry looked anything like this when I started working for Trentbarton. Other bus companies have already started to copy them, sometimes with almost identical endeavours. There aren't many bus companies loved by their customers (this is based on them talking to their customers rather than me speculating!), nor are there many proud bus drivers who voluntarily colour code their sunglasses to match their bus...
Below is an e-mail Trentbarton received in relation to the advert on the right. Click to enlarge.
An e-mail from the former Marketing Manager of Trentbarton, subsequently CEO of Transdev Blazefield
From: Alex Hornby
Date: Friday, 9 June 2017 at 10:31
To: James Hall
Subject: Thank you - and good luck
I just wanted to wish you the very best of luck as you leave Best Impressions and move on to new adventures!
You are an inspiring source of creativity and I know our work will be the poorer without your influence and design work. You should be so proud – I know we are!
It’s been a real pleasure seeing you turn (and enhance) our ideas to an exciting reality, often beating my expectations – both at Transdev and at trentbarton. I remember the day we spent on rainbow one in Nottingham, where it was so good watching you seeing your designs out there and in the field!
Thanks for all you’ve done for our companies and me.
All the very best in the future,
Alex – and all of us at Transdev Blazefield
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER