A new era for a beloved Hong Kong icon
The narrow gauge double-decker trams – or the ding dings, as they are affectionately referred to – take more than 200,000 passengers on their daily commutes in Hong Kong. As the greenest form of transport on Hong Kong Island, it is also arguably the most iconic.
scope of work
- Brand audit
- Brand definition
- Brand identity development
- Logo revamp
- Key messages
- Corporate collateral
- Signage system
- Signature tram bodywrap
- Passenger communications
- Merchandising portfolio
- Launch campaign
- Ongoing brand building support
With a rich history and ambitious plans for the future, Hong Kong Tramways was looking for a transformation that embraced its local heritage as well as its youthful brand personality.
This wasn’t a simple rebrand, but a revitalisation of the brand that aimed at strengthening the emotional bond with passengers and internal team members.
Hong Kong Tramways demonstrates how a foreign-owned company with local foundations can reconnect with the community and modernise its brand simultaneously.
Hong Kong Tramways was founded in 1904 and its instantly recognisable trams have been cutting a path along the winding streets of Hong Kong island for over 110 years. In 2010, the company was wholly acquired by an Asian joint venture between two leading operators of public transport, RATP Dev and Transdev, both headquartered in France.
With other modes of transportation clouding passengers’ minds and its previous logo looking dated, the company decided to refresh its creative approach.
To reconnect with its passengers and corporate partners, Hong Kong Tramways embraced its local foundations and tapped Stepworks to bring its public-facing and corporate entities into the 21st century.
After conducting a brand audit for Hong Kong Tramways, Stepworks developed a brand model that would protect and progress Hong Kong’s beloved trams.
The brand DNA, “Ding Ding! Enjoy HK’s green ride”, highlights not only the iconic green colour of the trams, but also the fact that it is the greenest mode of mass transit in one of the world’s most densely populated areas.
It was important that the brand be viewed as a critical element of Hong Kong’s fabric, bringing joy to passengers of all ages. The brand promise that “you can find happiness on Hong Kong’s iconic trams” promotes the liveliness riders experience on their journeys and gives them something to look forward to compared to other mass transit options.
Hong Kong Tramways provides an accessible, affordable service to commuters and visitors alike. The personality of the brand embraces the thrill of the ride and the joy of taking a step back in time, but with the comforts of modern technology that is proudly designed and made in Hong Kong.
To start the design process, we surveyed the market with a carefully crafted visual questionnaire. Results showed that the previous logo, last updated in 1974, had very low awareness and was not in-sync with the company’s values.
The team at Tramways were certain about what they wanted to achieve with this updated identity, and a clear design brief was written for the assignment. A key requirement was that the new logo must be instantly recognisable by passengers as an iconic Hong Kong tramcar.
The refreshed logo features the quintessential double-decker tram wearing a subtle smile – a nod to the happiness awaiting aboard. This friendliness was extended to the front of every tram car in the entire fleet, each of which was given a smile to welcome passengers during the launch campaign.
Precisely defined colours, typefaces, images and templates form the foundation of the visual identity. The outcome is a brand that is fun, inventive, respectful of its heritage and proudly made in Hong Kong.
The headline, “Catch a ride, catch a smile”, conveys the happy, easy-going nature of the brand. In Chinese, the headline says when you’re on a tram, you’re full of joy and you can’t help but smile. Grinning passengers are the goal, and this warm sentiment is seen throughout the launch campaign materials.
Stepworks applied the Hong Kong Tramways design language consistently across a wide range of items for the launch, from promotional products to the signage system.
Bringing the brand to life means expertly applying it to make it accessible and engaging. Stepworks continued its communications efforts by designing brand touchpoints, such as posters, promotional products and B2B communications.
The scope of services extended into a merchandising portfolio designed for commercial partnerships full of local flavour, which further infuse Hong Kong Tramways’ storied beginnings.
As brand guardians, Stepworks ensure that the third parties licensing the Hong Kong Tramways brand are accurately leveraging its applications across a range of products, from apparel to home goods.
Brand building is an ongoing process. Hong Kong Tramways has many exciting opportunities to keep people engaged and updated about what’s ahead.
Since 2004, Stepworks has devised many Hong Kong Tramways campaigns and marketing initiatives. We’ve supported their growth with the design of several products in the online shop that launched with the brand revitalisation. We’ve helped with the 100th anniversary campaign, the TramOramic Tour, B2B initiatives and much more.
I am impressed with the level of professionalism, skills and understanding of the market that Stepworks consistently presents to Hong Kong Tramways. Stepworks are an integral part of our marketing plans. The team delivers results that push our company forward, time and time again, to help us stay top of mind for passengers around Hong Kong.
Commercial and Corporate Affairs Manager
Hong Kong Tramways