People ride the bus for many reasons: cost, convenience, sustainability, necessity. In fact, central Ohio residents took 20 million trips with COTA just last year. Yet research showed that the brand had little equity with the public. Worse, many saw public transit as detrimental to downtown businesses and inaccessible to suburbanites. With one levy about to expire and a potential ballot measure to approve another, COTA needed to transform the region’s views on transit.
The image problem wasn’t limited to the general public. COTA’s own employees had trouble articulating what the organization stood for. This drove our approach: ensuring that every associate felt both empowered and proud to tell COTA’s story. It would take more than new rate cards and on-time buses.
To that end, we crafted a video, an internal microsite, and an entire photo library that showed employees in an inspirational light. Soon after, a public campaign was launched to drive home COTA’s real value: that it’s more than just public transit, it’s a true community asset. By overhauling everything from tickets to maps to bus messaging, we were able make the COTA brand more consistent and more cohesive, with a richer personality.
A public campaign was launched soon after to drive home COTA’s real value: that it’s more than just public transit, it’s a true community asset. The entire central Ohio area was exposed to that story, on TV, on the streets of Columbus, and on social media.