Presentation on theme: "Branding & Communications in Public Transport 1 st Asia BRTS Conference Amdavad September 2012."— Presentation transcript:
Branding & Communications in Public Transport 1 st Asia BRTS Conference Amdavad September 2012
Introduction Motor companies like Toyota, Ford and Tata spend tens of billions of dollars per year creating and maintaining their images, cultivating their customers and selling their products $21 billion dollars spent by major auto companies in advertising in 2009 Successful marketing, branding and communications require an institutional structure that prioritizes their importance
Fiction and Facts! Fiction – Marketing is a luxury transit agencies can’t afford – Public transport is a subsidy. There’s no need to reach out to a wider audience because those who need or want to use public transport already do so – Branding and marketing by a transport agency is government propaganda, something to be avoided Marketing is a core investment. A better public image attracts riders, leading to higher revenue and greater demand for transit service. Public transit is not a subsidy for vulnerable populations (elderly, persons with disabilities and low income individuals/families), but an integral part of a high functioning city that can retain jobs, attract investment and support a high-quality of life Increasing transit use has tangible benefits for all. If an agency is nervous about marketing its service, then it should never have invested in the service to begin with
How to Beat the Competition! Attract new users that currently use private transport such as cars and motorcycles Retain existing public transport users who might feel compelled to buy a private vehicle Secure political and financial support from government officials
How does the private sector work? Brand and identity Internal communication User education and information systems Marketing campaigns Public relations and external communication User feedback Online engagement
1. The Importance of a BRAND What is a BRAND? A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company A brand is the idea or image of a specific product or service that consumers connect with
1. The Importance of a BRAND DEFINE CORE VALUES System that is fast, reliable, modern, efficient, comfortable and safe Values should be incorporated in every aspect of the system Consider that your bus should represent all these values...your bus is your mission statement!
Associate with an image Associate with a character Your brand should have a strong association with a ‘positive feel’ Associate with a personality
Should you associate with existing brand? What is the image of the existing brand? What is public perception of the existing brand? Janmarg is an example of creating a completely new brand
Understand the local context Potential riders will relate more closely if values embody local culture and values Focus on the local residents first – later think about the national/ global audience!
2. Sell Your Values Every employee of a public transit agency, from a bus driver to a senior engineer, should be thought of as a brand ambassador If employees do not identify with your values and brand, chances are that general public won’t either! If employees do not ride the system, general public wont!
Uniforms make a difference....even the seat belt conveys that the transit agency takes safety seriously!
Drivers are not merely drivers....they are ‘system operators’ and proud of it!
Communicate – up and down! Not enough to communicate values to junior staff – have a system that enables them to contact senior staff with issues on ground Remember....staff on ground will interact with commuters and needs to be heard!
3. When should communication begin? Start communicating to people early – much before a new system opens – Exhibitions, focused group meetings, seminars Build prototypes if possible and invite people to see, inspect and suggest Communicate with children!
Reaching out to people
Prototype bus station
Communicating to children
Some fundamental questions People will have some fundamental questions... Am I affected? What is BRTS? (and why median lanes!) Does it go near my house/ my place of work? When does it start? How do I get from here to there? Why should I ride it?
4. Clear Signages/ Wayfinding Efficiency – Place user information where people can access it easily – Provide space for temporary information Usability – Design and placement of signages, maps, kiosks etc. is critical
4. Signages/ Wayfinding Understanding – Make information intuitive to use – Use technology if required Local context – Names of transit stops Quality – Use high quality and durable material
What happens outside the corridor? Trips do not end and begin at transit stops Neighbourhoods around the transit facility should have wayfinding signage, kiosks etc.
Some Simple Rules.... Maintain the same brand across all user information systems – font type, colour, logos, layout etc. Do not provide too much information – people get confused! Do not provide too little information – think of first time users!
Too much information?
5. Know What Riders Want Riders’ perception of transit service is often influenced by five factors Reliability Frequent service Safety and cleanliness Service hours Cost and savings But you need to tell people about it – you need to market your system!
Marketing The aim is two-fold Target potential new customers Target people who may never ride the system – but may have the power/ influence to impact it But remember....Marketing cannot be a substitute for high quality. The system should deliver what it promises!
6. Manage the Press! Attract press coverage that you can control and steer Address problems and negative perceptions proactively Correcting a negative image later is difficult
Thank God for BRTS. I avoided the traffic jam around the venue. People had parked bikes halfway into the road creating bottlenecks. I avoided being stressed out by taking the bus. – Bhavin Choksy who came with his family Why waste time in traffic? With its dedicated corridor, the bus reaches faster. And if you miss one bus, another will be along in a few minutes. And, it is absolutely free – Narayan Kothari, resident of Vastral The BRTS, which sees 15,000 passengers during normal days, ferried 33,000 Amdavadis during Navratri
“Ahmedabad traffic to lose a lane but gain a huge leeway ” – Shri. O.P. Agarwal “Ahmedabad BRTS has best marketing strategy ” – Shri. S. K. Lohia
Develop relationships with media Be accessible to journalists – else there are chances that the wrong story may spread Appoint a public relations officer – retain him/ her after operations begin! Government entities are often afraid of media and tend not to communicate with them, hoping the problem/ question will ‘go away’
Tailor the story Different journalists will have different interests – provide relevant information that would engage him/ her and readers
7. Be Responsive to Riders In a customer-driven industry, such as public transport, communication channels should be bi-directional Without effective methods to communicate feedback, both positive and negative, riders can feel unimportant
Taking feedback Incorporate a system to take customer feedback Take time to reply to suggestions – whether you agree or not!
A letter we received Dear Sirs, I am sorry to say that BRTS Corridor is an example of stupidity in design. CEPT, Ahmedabad must be a good option for theoretical approach, but in practicality, their design proved worthless Dear Mr. Jayaraj,(we responded) Thank you for taking interest in BRTS project and writing to us about your concerns. There are pros and cons in aligning over-bridges/flyovers along or across the ring road and Naroda-Narol Highway. Hope this clarifies your doubts. If you require further details, you may write to us/call me on my mobile: / or you may visit CEPT after calling me. We welcome your suggestions Dear Sir, (the response) Thank you for the clarifications. While you have to consider multiple issues, I thought only of my smooth travel from Akhbar Nagar to IIM junction. Wishing you all the best for your endeavors. I once again thank you so much for making the time to reply
Reach out Conduct trial runs – invite people to take a ride (be prepared, else there may be a negative perception) Use festivals, events to introduce the system Educate commuters
8. New Ways to Access Information Reach users before they arrive – Design a website that informs commuters before they reach the transit stop – Create a mobile in formation system that responds via sms
8. New Ways to Access Information Be proactive – Create an online presence as soon as the system name is finalised – you get the best name which shows up first in search engines! – Buy domains you never want to exist (www.ihatejanmarg.com)!www.ihatejanmarg.com
8. New Ways to Access Information Go social – Have a facebook page – Be active on the web (update information) – Respond to suggestions
Remember what you are up against! Video 1Video 2Video 3
Some last thoughts The competition is tough! They have more money! Public transit agencies need to use their resources/ assets creatively Effective Branding and Communications is key to success