New corporate design for the Munich Transport Association (MVV) – design diary

The Munich Transport Association (MVV) is repositioning itself. The design of notices for passengers, cards and vehicles has been harmonized and the general appearance including the logo has been updated.

With an improved information design and a refreshed visual appearance, the Munich Transport Association (MVV) would like to strengthen the external perception of the association and improve the visibility of the association’s partners. In the future, passengers will no longer have to deal with different implementations of departure times, as these are now based on a uniform design.

Thanks to the new design, passengers will be able to see more clearly which transport companies and association partners belong to MVV. The visual concept is also tailored to the individual mobility needs of passengers in the Munich area. In terms of passenger kilometers travelled, MVV is the fourth largest transport association in Germany after the VBB, RMV and HVV associations.

“The anniversary year is the perfect occasion for us to announce the new MVV appearance,” says MVV’s managing director Dr. Bernd Rosenbusch. “We worked on our relaunch for a long time, involved passengers through market research and continued to develop the ideas together with our partners. […] The focus of the relaunch was and is the passenger. More uniformity, clearer shapes and colors and better guidelines make it clear: MVV is inside, where MVV is on the outside.”

MVV Bus – before and after, image source: Munich Transport Company, image montage: German

According to MVV, it will take some time before all 800 buses connected to the network are on the road in the new design. The same applies to the regional bus stops, which must also only be replaced gradually for reasons of sustainability. Thanks to stronger colors and stronger contrast, visibility and readability are improved.

For the first time in more than 25 years, MVV is also getting a new logo. In connection with the transition to the new company design, the Munich transport association says goodbye to the abbreviation “MVV”. From now on, the full name will be used as the sender on buses and trains. In front of the letters is a circular figure mark, which is kept in the colors dark blue and green. As the MVV explains in the press release, the MVV’s self-image is visualized in the form of the logo: “The focus is on the passenger and their individual mobility needs”.

The relaunch has been made in collaboration with N+P Informationssysteme (Meerane). As dt was informed by MVV on request, the implementation of media takes place both internally and through framework contract agencies.

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In this case, the conversion to a uniform design is not exactly trivial, since the entity is a transport association. A great example that makes clear how complex such a project is and where enterprise design is actually “in”. Changing the logo and switching to new stationery is far from enough. Vehicles, work clothes, timetables, information notices, information boards, tickets/maps, signs, brochures, advertisements, websites, apps, social media channels and much more need to be exchanged. Gradually, of course. It may even take several years before all applications are converted to the new design.

How it will all look later is illustrated by the application examples shown exclusively here in dt, including a before and after view of a bus departure time overview (in fact the first of its kind in 16 years of design diary!).

An ambitious project and an absolutely commendable measure. However, I see a need for improvement in the concrete development of the media, especially with regard to the quality of the information design. The current design of departure times is more convincing in several key aspects, as it is more accessible than the new draft: 1. The contrast between text and background (hours/minutes) is significantly higher in the previous display. The contrast ratio is currently 13.91:1. In the new draft this is only 8.56:1. According to WCAG 2.1, the contrast ratio of 4.5:1 is the lower limit on the web. Further information on the subject of colors/contrast can be found at leserlich.info.

2. Thanks to the highlighted use of color (green), the passenger’s position (indication) can also be read more easily in the current version. 3. And the display of bus stop designations is also more accessible and therefore better designed for the viewer, as it is less inclined. In the relevant context – information design – the question of how accessible a design is and whether the presented information can be easily and quickly grasped and understood is the overriding criterion. Whether an overview is considered beautiful is less important. But such a travel time overview must of course also be visually appealing. The current design is visually more compelling, although this impression is subjective.

Deficits should be eliminated to make them easier to understand, especially since MVV itself deals with the issue of readability / people with visual impairments in its press release, but primarily in connection with the presentation of the logo, where readability is an insignificant criterion, since other aspects here are much more important, such as amiability, reproducibility and brevity.

I would rate the revision of the logo less critical. The former MVV sign could definitely use an update. However, I am wondering if it is wise enough to break up the abbreviation “MVV” and replace it with the full name. Isn’t “MVV” a respected and often used expression within the population? The logo is stretched out unnecessarily in this way. If logos are revised these days, it is primarily to improve their possible uses in everyday use, keyword flexibility. For this reason, bulky rectangular shapes are generally eliminated and replaced by more compact versions. To be able to act as a sender in social media channels. With the logo revision, MVV is going in the opposite direction. If you want to involve the population of the region in this big project, I think it should give them food for thought.

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