Market Research Your Brand Identity

UI Developer

Brand identity is an important part of a successful business. A business can live or die depending on how good their overall brand is. At times it is necessary to undergo a rebrand usually as a way of staying contemporary and fresh. Get it right and the rewards keep coming. Get it wrong and the brand can be irreparably damaged. Doing market research and getting feedback directly on a proposed rebrand before making a global change can be invaluable and save a lot of hassle. Using Dublin Bus as an example, we will look at how testing and research resulted in a better rebrand.

Dublin Bus on O'Connell Street with a two-tone green livery with orange.

The Value of Market Research

Dublin Bus is an example we have used before when discussing branding and brand identity. It is a company many of us are familiar with, but probably have not thought much about in this context. We first looked at how the company created and evolved a corporate identity over its first thirty years. We then examined how the company created a series of sub-brands to highlight its different service offerings.

Now we are examining how the different corporate identities were tested before a final one was chosen. The focus is on the colour-schemes the buses were painted in. These are the most visible aspect of the brand experienced by most users. Dublin Bus did its market research by testing the concepts on real buses. A Design may look good on paper. Only when it is tested in real-world conditions and used in the proposed way can the true value of the Design be recognised and validated.

Fifty Shades of Green

In the early 1990s Dublin Bus thought about modifying its two-tone green livery from 1987. Two variations were created in 1993, but the adjustments to the main livery Design were minor. Dublin Bus only changed the shades of green being used. Neither looked better than the current livery and were not adopted as a fleet-wide standard.

Dublin Bus did not give up and tested a new concept in 1997. The Design was more radical than what had come before. The use of green and orange was kept but were arranged on the side of the bus in bold angular shapes. Two buses were tested in this livery but again it was not adopted. Perhaps it was too radical for the time, but it did lay the groundwork for angular lines that were used in later Designs.

Moving to Blue

1997 was quite a radical year for Dublin Bus. Not only did the company experiment with interesting shapes, but also considered dropping the use of green. This was the first time Dublin Bus used blue for the main colour-scheme (it was being used in the livery for CitySwift). The first bus emerged in a simple livery of blue and white horizontal stripes (blue along the upstairs windows and below the downstairs windows, white in between.)  There were no stripes or angular shapes used in the Design, but a yellow line did separate the bottom of the white from the blue.

The next attempt used blue with cream and included a basic strip on it of orange and blue, with a few angular shapes. This livery came close to being adopted as the new fleet standard and some new  buses were delivered in this colour-scheme. In the end Dublin Bus went for the blue and cream with a thicker orange stripe and shapes. Elements of all three Designs from 1997 can be seen in this final chosen livery.

Adapting in Real Time

In 2003 Dublin Bus set about creating a new brand identity. A number of concepts and variations were presented to the company. One Design emerged as a favourite and it was tested on some buses. One bus was released in a blue and white livery with a light blue stripe that curved up at the end. During the test phase the light blue was repainted on one side to a light orange. Another bus was released in same Design but with yellow instead of white and with the light blue stripe. There was a final tweak to this latter example, but this was the Design that was ultimately chosen and has been with us ever since.

From late-2018 a new National Transport Authority livery will be adopted for all buses in Dublin. This means the current Dublin Bus livery may also be their last example of large-scale brand identity. It will also bring to an end over thirty-years of large-scale Design implementation at Dublin Bus.

Brand Identity

With a fleet of over a thousand buses, Dublin Bus understood the benefit of doing market research when adopting a new look and feel. Choosing the correct brand identity is critical for the success of a business. By taking the concept from the drawing board to reality, Dublin Bus were able to get immediate feedback on the Design by doing real-life market research on the concepts., It could also experience it in a variety of conditions and iterate upon it when necessary. This resulted in a strong brand identity that has become a symbol of our city. In some respects this is similar to what we do here at Graphic Mint with Usability Testing.

If you need help with creating a meaningful brand identity, check out our Branding and Customer Experience services and contact us today to see how we can help you.

More information on our services can be found on UsabilityTesting.ie.