Ask any Bay Area resident about MUNI, the San Francisco Municipal Railway, and you’ll get a list of grievances, with the added caveat that most of us who live here can’t imagine life without it.
In a hilly city where access to parking is never a given, MUNI is a vital public service. The public transit system is one of the largest in the nation, providing well over 200 million rides per year on its trains, trollies, streetcars, and busses. When MUNI contacted us, their design scheme was showing its age. They needed to refresh their image to feel modern and visually connect all their parts, while standing out against the other Bay Area transit authorities (BART, Caltrans, the ferries, etc.)
It was obvious from the get-go that this was going to be a big job. To create this comprehensive style guide, we worked closely with the Head of Marketing. We did extensive research, competitive analysis, and consumer outreach to put together recommendations on wayfinding, signage, branding and color options. Using public transportation can be a stressful experience, and part of alleviating that stress is ensuring that customers have immediate understanding of where they are going and how to get there. It is imperative to communicate with customers in a way that promotes safety and efficiency. The style guide went beyond signage and vehicles to include station agent booths, business cards, and even the annual report. Our guidelines were presented in a format designed to make executing the recommended style as easy as possible. This was a difficult but invigorating assignment, and truly gives us civic pride every time we see our work for MUNI out in the real world.