EMBARK: changing direction through rebranding

EMBARK_LOGO_SDESIGNMETRO Transit, the name and brand identity of the public transit system for the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, had become dated and misaligned with the organization’s initiatives to promote public transportation as a sustainable, safe and friendly travel option in our flourishing city. The leadership reached out to S Design to help with a rebrand to eliminate the vagueness and confusion. As dedicated champions for Oklahoma City, we were thrilled to help develop a new brand identity for METRO Transit as part of this visionary project.

Research showed that only two in five Oklahoma City residents associated the bus system with the name METRO Transit, and only 30% could give an accurate description of the skyline imagery in the logo, which was also quickly becoming obsolete as the city’s downtown development soared. S Design recommended a carefully executed rebrand of METRO Transit to improve perceptions of the organization for employees, taxpayers and city leadership. Paired with good business practices, maintenance and customer service, the new brand image would contribute to the visual representation of progress and civic renewal in Oklahoma City.

After reviewing the market research, we conducted a survey of all of the METRO Transit employees and leadership. We needed to understand the culture of the organization in order to make recommendations for a brand identity that would accurately represent METRO Transit and change perceptions to align with leadership’s forward thinking initiatives. The brand solution would include a new name, a new logo and a new experience.

METRO Transit leadership engaged in focus groups, strategic planning and training to help them understand their role and their customers, and to embrace a holistic view of the changes to come. It soon became clear that the employees were inspired to play a leading role in the renaissance of Oklahoma City and were well positioned to do so.

The project’s longevity and high visibility required many layers of feedback and refinement by the project team, S Design, the board of directors and employees. The process spanned almost five years and produced an identity that is relatable, inspirational and iconic.

The transit system’s new name, EMBARK, invites the customer to board a mode of transport for a journey, to join together, or simply to engage in something new. Under it’s new name, EMBARK combined it’s family of services to now include: bike-share, non-fixed route Paratransit services, Ferry River Transit Service and downtown Public Parking. EMBARK implies togetherness and an invitation to a transit system that facilitates the voyage members of the community are undertaking together.

The mark is created from a series of arrows found in the wordmark, EMBARK, which represents the cardinal directions and communicates that the transit system gives you, the passenger, power to move in any desired direction. The first and last arrow point inward, an implied invitation to come aboard. The logotype was designed to be simple and bold. It works in any visual space including print and digital media, signage and moving vehicles.

“Corporate visual identity plays a significant role in the way an organization presents itself to both internal and external stakeholders,” said Michael Scroggins, manager of public information and technology. “We are still in awe of S Design’s brilliance and their ability to lead us through this important project.”

EMBARK was designed to be a timeless and intentional brand that connects with its passengers not only visually, but also emotionally. The transit system is one of the most distinguishable and interactive branches of Oklahoma City’s services, and EMBARK positions it as a memorable experience.








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