BR Cor­po­rate Iden­tity Manual: Re­view

Rail (UK) - - Feature Book Extract - Tim Dunn, trans­port his­to­rian

Blue. Grey. Red Star Parcels, yel­low ends and white Rail Al­pha­bet. This book con­tains the most as­tound­ingly sim­ple - yet in­tri­cately ex­e­cuted - vis­ual iden­tity that has ever graced the rails of Bri­tain.

The Bri­tish Rail cor­po­rate iden­tity was, and still is, some­thing that many of us work­ing in both rail­ways and de­sign hold up as gold (or should that be blue?) stan­dard: many of the prin­ci­ples laid out cleanly and con­cisely here are still main­tained in or­gan­i­sa­tions to­day.

This de­sign guide not only pa­pered over the cracks in a faded, grimy steam-era rail­way, it pulled it to­gether. Bri­tish Rail was an iden­tity that not only did its staff feel they could as­pire to, but cru­cially that the pub­lic could be­lieve in.

This book is made with love - love that is writ large. Whether one is pro-na­tion­al­i­sa­tion or pro-pri­vate op­er­a­tor, one can­not fail to ap­pre­ci­ate how the brand­ing, author­ity and user ex­pe­ri­ence (to use a 21st cen­tury term) in this is laid out plainly and ex­plic­itly. Every page is a per­fectly crafted, per­fectly pro­por­tioned work of metic­u­lous de­sign.

The orig­i­nal books from which this sin­gle vol­ume has been cre­ated (and it is a weighty tome) were in plas­tic ring-binders for easy re­moval of spec­i­fi­ca­tion and to use out in the field, or in­deed in the de­pot. This book is printed on heavy stock and with colour pre­ci­sion that only a de­sign ob­ses­sive such as Wal­lace Hen­ning, the in­sti­ga­tor and editor of this re­print, would de­mand. The fin­ished prod­uct is a thing of beauty.

The idea of reprint­ing a de­sign guide for an or­gan­i­sa­tion that ceased to have a com­pre­hen­sive pub­lic pres­ence 25 years ago is, frankly, bonkers. But any user of the Bri­tish rail network from the 1970s and 1980s will recog­nise, de­light and rem­i­nisce in fea­tures from their trav­els - be it the de­light­ful type­face, the oddly-miss­ing apos­tro­phe in Trav­ellers Fare restau­rants, the re­versed-BR sym­bol on one side of Sealink fer­ries, or the strik­ing never-to-be-bet­tered yel­low, blue and grey of the HST.

This 2017 graph­i­cal re­print has been topped and tailed by a hand­ful of pro­fes­sion­als such as Gerry Bar­ney (he who de­signed the Bri­tish Rail sym­bol) and Tony Howard (for­mer Head of De­sign for Bri­tish Rail). There are also pleas­ing short es­says on the con­text for the book.

This book will be picked up from your ta­ble or desk by a non-believer, but (hope­fully) be re­turned some­time later by some­one who now starts to un­der­stand - just a lit­tle bit - more about why the rest of us see beauty in rail. I think you will en­joy this book.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.