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[] Firebelly Design

- Graphic Design

Divvy: Chicago’s bike share system

Consumers have got the message. Using it need not mean buying it. For a text-book example, look no further than personal mobility. Here, sharing schemes have caught on in a big way. For the novum+ section this month we found a bicycle-hire service in Chicago that has taken off spectacularly while presenting a stylish image.

Firebelly Design

 

The back story is a productive collaboration between the global agency IDEO, with branches in North America, Asia and Europe, and the Chicago-based agency Firebelly. For the Divvy project, IDEO took on the research and the name choice, passing its results to Firebelly for design development and branding. »Apart from name choice and rights protection, the brief covered the entire visual identity including the manual – and they wanted all that inside three months,« the Firebelly creatives told us. »We also had to sort out production details for over forty applications including the bikes themselves, the docking stations, transporter vans, event locations, business visuals, employee dress, website – and lots more.«

In short, it was a mammoth project, very carefully and precisely realised in spite of the tight scheduling. »After the design process was complete, we had two months for setting up, if we were to complete within the five-month time frame for the launch – and that meant 750 bicycles on the road!«

Firebelly Design
Firebelly Design

 

The communicative core of the logo is a V ligature, intended to connote dynamism, but already familiar in many countries as a standard symbol demarcating bicycle-only routes. »The lettering is characterised by right angles and geometrical curves – an allusion to the notorious Chicago street grid. But we have rounded the angles to some extent.« To ensure the necessary impact, the creatives chose Pantone 298C, a luminous blue that remains effective at night.

Firebelly Design
Firebelly Design
Firebelly Design

 

Although bicycle hire has so far not been as popular in the US as in Europe, the Divvy concept caught on right away. In 18 months the number of bikes available rose from 750 to 3000, docking stations from 75 to 300. Initially at least, one factor making for success was almost certainly the well-judged choice of name. The agency disclosed some background: »We went into subway stations with a list of possible names and asked people what they thought. Not that this was in any way a crowd-sourcing thing – we simply wanted to identify the pattern of responses. We soon found out what attributes were required: ›safe‹, ›comfortable‹, ›spontaneous‹, and ›fun‹. We ?factored in our own reasoning that the name needed to be concise, memorable, and readily adaptable in everyday use as noun or verb – and we came up with ?Divvy.« So whenever you are in Chicago from now on, you will likely be asked more and more: »Do you Divvy?«

Firebelly Design
Firebelly Design

This article was first published in our novum issue 06.17 (main topic: all about bikes). You can buy a single copy (also as PDF) here: http://novum.graphics/en/magazine/shop-subscribe/detail/novum-0617/
   

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