RMTD: Moving People Toward Transit

Efficiently moving people around metropolitan areas is an increasingly important public priority in America. Rockford, Illinois, however, is a city in which mass transportation has yet to become widely popular. Automobile travel is deeply ingrained it its culture, partially driven by a history that many say has allowed too much sprawl.

In 2017, in an effort to begin to build “choice” ridership, Rockford Mass Transit District chose GrahamSpencer to build a dynamic, more intuitive and functional website. RMTD also sought to improve its image and attract new riders via online and offline advertising campaigns that included broadcast/cable ads (also utilized in digital and social environments) that were 100% written, shot and post-produced in-house.

During the website build, RMTD’s current transit app proved unreliable as a data source for the website’s trip planning function. GS opted to make RMTD a part of the Google Transit Program and went through the steps to create a General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) with its route data. This was an infrequently employed option among transit agencies at the time, but skillfully employed with Google Transit, GTFS is a highly reliable source of data for transit websites. Best of all, RMTD now appears as a travel option on inner-city trips when user searches employ Google Maps.

The new GS-designed website won a Gold ADDY in 2017. The digital campaign won both a Gold ADDY and Best of Show/Digital in 2018 and our  “Make an Impact” cable/broadcast/digital spot won a Silver ADDY in 2019.

Also in 2019, GrahamSpencer was again chosen by RMTD to help it rebrand its organization. The leadership team and board were about to make a large investment in hybrid-electric buses in their effort to incrementally replace RMTD’s aging fleet – and leaders felt it was time for a fresh, more progressive identity. GrahamSpencer employed aspects of its proven, proprietary GSearch research and strategic planning/positioning approach, leaning heavily on detailed brand audits of transit orgs around the world. A creative brief was written and the design process was begun. A wealth of viable options were presented to RMTD by GrahamSpencer. Upon final presentation to the Board of Directors, its members and the executive staff remarked that any of the four “finalists” could have served admirably as RMTD’s new identity.

The executive team made the final decision, choosing what was surely the most progressive of the final options: a simple, powerful “R” consisting of graphic lines suggesting a multiplicity of bus routes. The R is enhanced by a jaunty upward and forward-pointing arrow – and the unusual and attention-grabbing color of periwinkle blue. The tagline: Join Us On The Road Less Traveled.

RMTD’s new hybrid-electric buses began brightening the streets of Rockford in the heart of the Covid crisis of 2020. The new identity has been popular among RMTD staff and passengers, who enjoy the bold graphic approach and the comfort of the new buses. GrahamSpencer’s first video project of 2020 was a direct-address announcement by Executive Director Michael Stubbe thanking his staff for their faithful and brave efforts during the pandemic.