Lextran: Rebranding a vital community asset

Lexington, Kentucky is one of the more populous cities in the state, but we’re spread out. Lextran connects the city with safe, reliable public transportation crisscrossing the area. The organization as we now know it started in 1972, when the city’s government incorporated the historically private Lexington Transit Corporation, renaming it Lextran. Since then, the service has grown to fit the changing needs of a city on the move.

Lextran is a vital community asset. But they have a lot to contend with in Lexington. This is a car city. The average household in Lexington has two cars. The most common method of travel is driving alone (78.5%). In Lexington, 1.4% of workers commute by public transportation. In the rest of the country, 5.1% of workers commute by public transportation. People don’t like what they don’t know. For most people in Lexington, public transportation is completely foreign. Thus, Lextran has a negative public perception. But that doesn’t change how important it is to many people’s lives here.

The truth is, we were similarly ignorant. Most people at the agency had minimal experience with Lextran. Our only interaction with them was taking their trolley home from Keeneland or seeing their buses everywhere. We needed to immerse ourselves in Lextran to understand its importance.

We discovered something incredible at the heart of this organization. The men and women who work there are united by a commitment to service. Many of the people they serve are not just riders, they’re fans. Some of their longtime customers have been collecting bus tokens and passes for decades. Some of their bus drivers have groupies.

Lextran had a bigger problem than lack of awareness. They had fear. In the broader community, any sense of negative public perception was magnified by a lack of cohesive Lextran communication. Internally, they had trouble with departmental silos. Many employees felt alienated. Both groups – internal and external – needed a friendly, trustworthy rallying cry to bring them together.

We collaborated with Braley Design to create a logo inspired by connection. The colors eschew their old blue and update their green for more contemporary use. The result is a clear, friendly beacon to light the way for the next generation of great work at Lextran.

Lextran isn’t just about buses. They have transportation for people with disabilities, University of Kentucky and Bluegrass Community Technical College students, and aspirations for even bigger transportation impact. We put together a system that could bring everything under one umbrella. Cohesive, simple, and strong.

Lextran’s communications team was a strong, collaborative partner throughout the design process. We worked with them to implement the identity across everything they do in a practical, functional way. Everything they do is uniquely suited to this kind of function-dictates-form design. Signage, maps, and passes are key brand extensions for them. Legibility and ease of use were our biggest considerations during the implementation process. We relied on color coding and icons to broaden the materials’ accessibility.

We caught up with Austin Hughes, the Marketing Coordinator at Lextran, to get his perspective on the branding process. “For a company like Lextran the biggest challenge was working through logistics. With over 200 employees, a service that runs 7 days a week, and our customers who rely heavily on us, making a big splash with the rebrand while also keeping everyone’s best interest in mind was challenging. Our goal was to make as much of a ‘light switch effect’ as possible, while being fiscally responsible and not disrupting service. Luckily, with a lot of communication and planning, we were able to work across several departments to come up with solutions.”

“We have emphasized that this new ‘look’ is about much more than our logo or a color. We are looking to the future to determine what solutions our community needs from public transit. This rebrand is just the first step.”