The Value of a Sub-Brand


UI Developer

In a previous blog post, The Colours of Dublin City, we looked at the various fleet liveries Dublin Bus has had over the past thirty years. This was used as an example of brand identity. But Dublin Bus has done so much more in this period of time. Over the years there has been a number of sub-brands that have come with their own identities and business objectives.


These were as a result of major changes to the Dublin county bus network and the service provided. It shows how companies can create a sub-brand to launch an additional service aside from their main offering. It is also possible to see how the design of some of these sub-brands later influenced the main brand or where merged completely into the main brand.

City Imp

The first of these sub-brands came in the form of a smaller and more nimble bus, called the City Imp, in 1992. Dublin Bus’ strategy was simple – reinvigorate underperforming bus routes by replacing the standard double-decker buses with smaller mini-buses, operating higher frequency timetables. This was the era of green buses, but the City Imp was given a radical and bright livery of red and yellow, complete with an Imp logo, which held far more prominence than the Dublin Bus logo. The City Imp concept worked and the routes became popular once more. They were so popular that they were absorbed into the standard network and the City Imp brand was dropped in the early 2000s.

City Swift

In 1993 Dublin Bus started to roll out another new product offering. City Swift was again about increasing frequencies on key routes, while at the same time developing Quality Bus Corridors to speed up journey times. As another quite radical livery in the mid-1990’s world of two-tone green, City Swift was predominately white, but with a variety of stripes in blue, orange and grey. This time, not only were buses painted in this livery, but new blue and orange shelters were installed, with the City Swift brand on the glass panels. One variation, made to the brand after launch, was splitting up the “Y” and “S” which had shared a common element, but this made the brand look more like City Wift.

Over time Dublin Bus failed to maintain the ethos of the brand. It was applied to routes with no Quality Bus Corridors and low-frequency timetables. Just like with City Imp, the City Swift brand was phased out in the early 2000s and the corporate Dublin Bus brand identity took over.

Dublin Bus City Swift

Airlink and Tours

Dublin Bus is not just its yellow fleet today. The commercial aspect of the company still has its own distinct brands, which are predominately used by tourists: Airlink and City Tour. Services to Dublin Airport always had a distinctive livery, but the Airlink brand was introduced in 1994 with a green and yellow livery. This was rebranded into blue, green, white and yellow before the current aqua/teal livery appeared in 2006. Part of the reasoning behind the change to the current livery was to differentiate it from the yellow being used on the main fleet.

Dublin Bus Airlink

Dublin Bus began tour operations in 1988 and, for the most part, has been operating under the “City Tour” brand. In February 2017 it underwent a rebrand, changing to “DoDublin”, with a new single green livery replacing the previous two-tone green one. This shows that even today Dublin Bus is still re-evaluating and redefining the sub-brands, especially when faced with competition from other Airport and Tour providers.

Dublin Bus HopOn HopOff

Does your company need a rebrand?

Graphic Mint create lasting, memorable journeys across your brand. For companies that operate under many different brands and sub-brands we understand the importance of keeping businesses separate while also maintaining a corporate style guide. Whether you are a new business looking for a logo to communicate your message to the right people, or an existing business looking to rejuvenate your visual assets or add to it, Graphic Mint can help. To find out more on our branding offering contact our team today at +353 1 478 8444 or email us at