British Rail's corporate identity

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/07/12/british-rails-corporate-iden.html

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Well their graphics and branding were stronger than their service. It really is a great symbol, one that evokes speed, railroad tracks, and even the Union Jack.

Edited to add: I suspect that it influenced the Amtrak “arrow” logo.

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I always thought it was a brilliant piece of graphic design - instantly recognisable, and reflects the railway and its purpose in so many ways. It’s not just nostalgia that would like to see it back given the permashambles that is the current UK rail franchising system.

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Am I the only one who sees bird feet? :slight_smile:

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Yes. And that would be a seriously weird bird. :wink:
As someone who grew up from the age of 11, soon after the launch of this logo, having to use BR every day of the week for 7 years, this possibility never occurred to me.

As the site itself says, most succinctly: “corporate design at its aesthetically satisfying best”

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While I’m generally in favour of public ownership of key transportation infrastructure, my experience of current British rail travel is that it is expensive and all the staff seems to do is demand proof of fare. On a 30 minute train ride I had my ticket checked 3 times!

BritishRail_BirdFeet

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Yeah, my perception is that some of the pining for nationalization is looking back on rose-coloured glasses. But there is no government service that can’t be made even worse by getting shareholders and private management involved.

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It hasn’t gone away. That’s still the symbol generally used in the UK to denote ‘railway station’.

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I don’t remember British Rail being particularly worse or different, though I was only a bobling back then, so I’ll defer to people who say the customer service was bad. But it’s not like private train operators ever made me feel like a princess. IDK, perhaps other people are deeply impressed by smarmy, Orwellian marketing bullshit and garish graphics and magenta LED lighting glued onto, let’s not forget, British Rail’s trains and stations.

If you look at the renovated St Pancras station, which genuinely is a product of privatised rail, it’s like it was designed as a museum of all that is solid melting into air. It’s mostly a crassly overpriced tourist mall, and if you have to get a train, you’d better know which of the five different train operators you need, since they all have their own platforms and signage and departure boards. But how could you not instinctively know what company owns the franchise to run trains to Ramsgate? It’ll be easier once towns rename themselves to “Arriva Station 241” or “FirstGroupTM Great Western RailwayTM BristolTM

Bah

What I think is viscerally appealing about BR is that it’s just honest in a way that people are starved for. It’s the organisation that runs trains in Britain, and that’s it. You don’t need to sign up to an artificial lifestyle, or choose it from an exciting menu. It’s just “do you want to go somewhere on a train or not”. The simple, classy, fashion-resistant, detail-oriented branding reflects that ethos.

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BRAND NECROPHILIA

Good name for a band.

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You are right of course. Though it is more than the graphic that many would like to see back.

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This. All of this. Thank you for expressing it so well.

The ‘arrows of indecision’ must be one of the strongest brands ever created, they’re meant to represent the direction of travel on two railway lines and were unveiled in 1964 - four years before steam was abolished - and they’re still in use today for Network Rail. Not to mention the Transport font is a beautiful bit of design (much more attractive than Helvetica), I even have a slight hankering for Monostral Blue after all the hideous private liveries we have today.

British Rail gets a hell of a lot of stick, but it was a hotbed of innovation from the 1950s onwards - it did enormous amounts of work on high speed electric propulsion, signalling, rail design and suspensions. It commissioned the Deltic locomotives, the High Speed Train (which is still running today at 125mph) and the Advanced Passenger Train which was only prevented from becoming a huge success because the Thatcher government thought spending £40 million on a train was too much. The APT was broken up and its technology sold to Fiat - who turned it into the Pendolino and promptly sold it back to the UK at a massive markup.

Right up until the mid 1990s, British Rail was dispatching more 100mph+ services per day than anywhere else in the World - including France and Japan. It was also by far the most cost-effective national railway network in the world. Imagine what it could have done if it had been properly funded…

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Well, um, er, …

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And now for something completely different to cleanse the palate, if that’s allright with you.

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Oh come on, it’s two birds, kissing.

Either that or it’s the international symbol for a hiking path crossing a divided highway.

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Two British rails?

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And the people who ask “why can’t we have a co-operative railways company?” get ignored by both sides.

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But disgusting merchandise.

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