This week we spoke to Landor & Fitch Executive Director, Strategy and Innovation, EMEA James Withey and Executive Creative Director Graham Sykes about their transformative rebrand of the Eurotunnel (Channel Tunnel).
Having been involved in designing the outgoing Eurotunnel Le Shuttle identity in 1996, Landor & Fitch was asked to take part in a pitch. In a bid to separate the infrastructure (the tunnel) from the service (the railway shuttle) Landor & Fitch simplified the name to LeShuttle.
To learn more, let's hand it over to James and Graham.
What was the brief for the rebrand? (James)
The brief for the new brand for LeShuttle was driven by issues with awareness and understanding.
While those of us who are old enough to remember the construction of The Channel Tunnel know that it’s possible to take your car or a truck through it, later generations don’t necessarily know this.
Furthermore, there was confusion across the generations between Eurostar and Eurotunnel LeShuttle, and a lack of knowledge of the benefits that travelling on LeShuttle brings over any comparative mode of transport – speed, sustainability, and convenience.
With LeShuttle approaching its 30th anniversary next year, the time was right to enter an extraordinary and defining time in its history.
Describe the purpose of the brand and its target audience (James)
LeShuttle is an enduring symbol of the unique relationship between the UK and France, inaugurated nearly 30 years ago by Queen Elizabeth II and François Mitterrand.
Since its inauguration in 1994, more than 481 million people and 99 million vehicles have travelled through the Channel Tunnel, with LeShuttle a fundamental part of the experience.
Over these last 30 years, the experience of travel in general has often changed for the worse. Travel is all about the promise of freedom – until you experience it. With LeShuttle, unlike so many other modes of travel, that promise is still kept. The purpose of LeShuttle is to free people and businesses to go their way, the right way.
How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go? (James)
Landor & Fitch was asked to take part in a competitive tender process for the project, having been involved in creating the previous identity for ‘Eurotunnel Le Shuttle’ back in 1996. After a successful pitch, we worked with the LeShuttle team on an extensive redesign during a ten-month creative collaboration process.
We wanted to introduce the brand to new generations, to tell the story of what makes it special and different, clearly distinguish it from Eurostar and to renew the brand with an identity that gives LeShuttle more personality, spirit, and optimism.
What was your thinking behind the rebranding solution? (Graham)
From our initial ideas around unlocking freedom for travellers came the concept of ‘Your Way’, which formed the foundation of LeShuttle’s new identity. The identity is about reconnecting customers and prospects with the authentic truth of LeShuttle.
‘Your Way’ conveys LeShuttle’s in-built advantages that gives it an edge over more restricted forms of travel, like air. With LeShuttle, people and businesses can travel their way, with whatever they want and whomever they want – even pets.
The desire to showcase simplicity, speed, and care also led to the simplification of Eurotunnel Le Shuttle to LeShuttle, communicating the streamlined and convenient service.
What visual influences fuelled your solution? (Graham)
When it came to LeShuttle’s new colour palette, we were strongly influenced by the rich diversity of colours seen on the European landscape when travelling by train. We mixed these colours, represented by ‘Electric Lavender’ and ‘Aqua’, with a strong black and white base to convey innovation and optimism across passenger and freight communications.
The tunnel itself influenced the new wordmark, representing the start and end of a journey. We used the tunnel across formats to signpost key messages and serve as a visual reminder of speedy trips and past travels.
What was the biggest challenge? How did you overcome it? (Graham)
The biggest challenge during the creative process was developing the new wordmark. Having explored and developed very different options previously, we found ourselves in a place that still didn’t feel progressive, imaginative, or different enough.
We went back to the drawing board and thought about a mark that could be crafted to tell the story of travelling ‘your way’ from entry to exit, and beyond. The final mark was one of the options following this thought process and instantly stood out to us.
To achieve this, we had to shift from the traditional travel industry convention of pairing icon and wordmark, and instead create a typographic image that imagined the journey of the traveler.
The new mark evocatively captures the varied nature and free spirit of the many different types of LeShuttle journey, as well as the excitement which comes from entering and exiting the world’s longest underwater tunnel.
What details are you most proud of and why? (James)
I’m most proud of the sheer scale of the rebrand, and the fact we can see our work across every single touchpoint – from trains, to signage, to tv, social, .com, uniforms, terminals and more.
What do you hope it achieves for the brand? (James)
We hope this is the start of an exciting period for LeShuttle and the Channel Tunnel, one that sees it celebrate its 30th anniversary with a bold vision that captures the interest of new audiences.
We hope travellers, particularly younger ones, use LeShuttle as their primary travel option for getting to and from the continent, with the brand perception reflecting the reality of its experience as a simpler, more sustainable service that really cares about giving people and businesses the freedom to travel their way.
Did you learn anything new during the project? (James)
We knew that this was an amazing feat of engineering. What we didn’t all necessarily know is just how many advantages LeShuttle has over the other ways of getting from the UK to Europe, especially if you are travelling by car, with pets, or lots of luggage.
It’s these amazing advantages that we wanted the brand to capture, to help LeShuttle communicate its relevance and difference across to a new generation.
What would you do differently if you could do it over again? (James)
Very little in this case – it’s been a great example of client and agency partnering closely to create brave, beautiful work.
What kit/tools/software were used to create it? (Graham)
We used Adobe Creative Suite, Premier, After Effects and C4D to bring this to life, but it all started as it should... with pen and paper.