18 March 2017

[logo] A New Logo And Type Look for Salem's Transit

I follow the news with the mass transit agency serving the greater Salem area, Cherriots. Mostly it's in the 'how much of it they got' department; having grown up in the Salem area, it was my ride around town for a great deal of my high school experience. It connected me with high-school and a good many things around my erstwhile and doughty home town, and it seemed to be more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of funding than the other two major systems I was then familiar with, the Lane Transit District and TriMet, whose service I always envied because in Eugene and Portland the buses ran later and they had transit on Sundays. I survived hour-long waits on Saturdays, buses that quit running around 7 PM, and at least one major service cutback (during the late 70s the service, which was then a function of the City of Salem, was curtailed back to within the city limits only, where formerly it had gone just beyond. We Salem fringers living along Lancaster Driver and in the Four Corners area missed it mightily until the Hamman jitneys came along, but that's all a story for another time).

Then Salem-Keizer Transit established its district, service returned to the Salem urban fringe, and I left town to see the greater world, in more or less that order. Latterly, Cherriots has had to cut Saturday service because revenue but has been extremely clever in using what they had to best effect, constantly rethinking service and how to deliver it. It's been an impressive story so far, and if Salem-Keizer Transit ever gets the funding I think they deserve, with the agency's creativity, Salem could someday have world-class mass transit for a city its size.

Since the 80s, the agency has had an informally-styled script logo with a visual pun on the name, which looked like this:

The o being styled into an abstract cherry and the name itself are all puns on a somewhat forgotten-by-now nickname for the capital, the Cherry City, Salem's cherry orchards once having been a great draw to the area in the spring. The Oregon Statesman and, for a short time, its successor, the Statesman-Journal, published suggested driving tour routes when those trees were in bloom.

Slowly infiltrating the agency's public presence and by now its printed and PDF collateral, has been this new look:

Featuring a hip, bold sans-serif font with some weight to it (which reminds me of the font used by C-Tran in Vancouver), the logo expresses a very mission-driven agency which is visualized by the sweeping curves both concentric on and emanating from the enlarged initial capital, which quite obviously evoke a high-speed highway.

The brand has been simplified; gone is the tagline Salem-Keizer Transit, it's simply CHERRIOTS now, and the simplicity combined with the sturdy, bold type gives a real visual strength and presence. The sweeping abstract highway provides dynamic tension in the way it emerges from above the C and in the way it ends on a cut-off angle. Gone also is the bright dash of red filling an o stylized into a cherry, a feature of the system's logo since its inception.

The brand is also going region-wide. Up until now, the division of Cherriots that provided rural transit service to Marion and Polk counties has been known as CARTS, an initialism that stood for Chemeketa Area Regional Transit System, whose logo wasn't much to speak of. CARTS is being rebranded as Cherriots Regional and being brought under the brand's banner.

The new graphic look hasn't emerged on the website but it appears to be on all digital and PDF collateral, including service advisory graphics as well as schedules, and presumably printed matter as well.

Bottom line here for me is that this is a fairly cool, modern look for a transit agency that hasn't changed much graphically in long time and stands comfortably alongside the other major transit agencies in the Willamette Valley; it's a refined, poised, and serious presence. As I read the current news about Cherriots, I get the impression that they are, at least in spirit, trying to lay the foundation for a fully-grown up transit system to serve Salem, maybe one that will at last have buses on Sunday. The logo fits an agency who is trying to level itself up into the next-generation system for Oregon's state capital city.

Those who liked the splash of red in a stylize cherry will have to make their own peace with that.

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