'Santander Cycles'

I get that the TfL Cycles have and need corporate sponsorship, it’s no different to the tube having adverts plastered all over it. But changing the logomark with every new sponsor is totally nuts

Branding should change to reflect a change in an organisations values or aesthetic/functional direction, not when a major new advertiser comes on board. This would receive derision in the private sector so the fact that TfL is a public body makes it even more ludicrous.

Then there is the cost associated with change. Just this morning I saw two guys changing the colours of the hire booths on Pitfield Street near my flat. That’s a serious number of man hours being spent/wasted when you consider how many docking stations there are across the city.

Presumably every third party that makes use of the TfL Cycles branding will want/need to modify their assets too? That means apps like CityMapper will either look out of date or be forced to issue updates to handle the change.

Most important is the issue of way-finding however. By regularly changing the logomark, particularly the primary colour, TfL are making it harder for a user to recognise the cycle scheme. Not to mention that the Santander red is incredibly close to the colour used for the buses logomark too! (9MB PDF)

The TfL ‘roundel’ as it is know has been used since the turn of twentieth century and the form and colours of the iconic London Underground mark have been in place since around 1925. This sort of continuity is part of what makes London’s public transport infrastructure so recognisable. To change these key components as easily as we change an advertising hoarding is both beneath us and evidence of how short sighted we can be.

Daniel Bower

Blogging about platform regulation: algorithms, interoperability, kill zones as well as other bits and bobs. Read about my research, or read more about me.