Bruce Mau Design

Repositioning Canada's largest transportation agency

Metrolinx: Repositioning Canada's largest transportation agency

Metrolinx is Canada’s largest regional transportation agency — responsible for managing and integrating road and public transport across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

Created in 2006 by the Government of Ontario, the agency acquired a number of operating divisions via provincially-mandated integrations, and had the mandate to develop a plan for transportation infrastructure that would link the entire region. By 2016, Metrolinx leadership found themselves with a myriad of brands without clear linkages or cohesive brand strategies, and confusion in the public realm about their overall role.

To address this concern, Metrolinx engaged LEVEL5 Strategy Group to develop a brand strategy and architectural framework, and hired BMD to create a visual identity system and set of design guidelines that aligned with this new vision.

BMD immersed itself into Metrolinx, conducting workshops, interviews, site visits, and visual brand audits for both Metrolinx and similar transportation agencies across the world. Over the course of our research, we found that Metrolinx was struggling to communicate its vision, in part because the brand experience had become increasingly fragmented, even as the transportation systems and infrastructures they represent were becoming more seamless.

In developing the new identity, BMD’s mandate was to:

  • Reposition Metrolinx as a leader that connects people
  • Combine instant clarity for customers with design excellence and beauty
  • Brand a ‘mission’ that the public and Metrolinx employees could be confident in.

Building upon LEVEL5’s research, leveraging their extensive qualitative and quantitative insights, BMD designed a new visual identity that builds upon the existing brand equity of GO, Presto, and UP, while linking them more closely to the Metrolinx parent brand.

The visual identity takes inspiration from transit systems, using parallel lines and intersections to show movement and connection. The new logo makes use of an abstracted ‘M’ and ‘X’ as a connective endorser. The simple black and white identity brings strength and clarity to the brand while a secondary colour palette adds interest and variety and allows for flexibility when applied in connection with the sub-brands.

The new brand architecture works across multiple transit systems and partners, from endorsed services like GO and UP, to stronger connections like Presto, and projects like the Eglinton Crosstown. Expressed across multiple platforms and channels, BMD was able to demonstrate how the system can work cohesively across the entire portfolio.

Although the brand has launched, BMD continues to work with Metrolinx, to bring the new identity to life, as it rolls out across the various communication touch points.

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We helped Metrolinx realise that what they're really doing is creating connections – between people, between locations, and between modalities of transport.

Old brand architecture
New brand architecture

Our experience with BMD was nothing short of exceptional. Design can be beautiful, but design that reflects the strategic priorities and values of an organization is a rare thing.

Jennifer van der Valk, Brand and Marketing Director at Metrolinx