Double arrow

British Rail logo (sideways)

I had a Facebook argument with a friend the other day, about how great the British Rail ‘double arrow’ logo is (yeah, that’s how we roll). He said things like “showing it’s age” and  “the vibe around British Rail as a concept is stuck in the 70′s”. I don’t think he meant that in a good way.

For me, however, it’s one of the greatest corporate logos ever created: a deceptively simple concept with a crisp and clever execution. It’s been ambitiously used over 45 years but incredibly well protected – even in the post deregulation landscape it is still shorthand for train travel in the UK. Along with the London Transport roundel it’s been a piece of constant, reassuring design – no matter what delays, engineering works and wrong kinds of snow are making our journeys hell. I love it, although I also love the grey British glamour of British Rail in the 70s, so I might be biased.

Page from British Rail corporate identity manual

And I’m very glad to know I’m not the only one who loves it: is a whole website about the British Rail corporate identity, with scans of the original usage manual from 1965. At the very least, it’s a fascinating insight into the early years of corporate identity design – whether you think it sums up a golden time of hope and idealism, or just brings to mind soggy British Rail sandwiches.

(images taken from the website)

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