Striking new Czech rail identity straddles bold modernity and retro leanings

If you’re a fan of classic identity designs in the British Rail canon, or have ever drooled over a standards manual reissue, you’ll enjoy these gorgeous new designs for Czech railway operator Správa železniční dopravní cesty (SŽDC).

Studio Marvil, SŽDC branding

The new identity was created by Prague-based Studio Marvil, which won a pitch against three other agencies to design new branding for the Czech Railways main commuter and freight trains.

Studio Marvil, SŽDC branding

Using a colour palette of navy, a lighter blue and bold orange, the branding manages to straddle that delicate line between fetishising all things retro and feeling simultaneously bold and contemporary.

Studio Marvil, SŽDC branding

Studio Marvil explains that the ‘Ž’ of the name is taken as an abbreviation for ‘Railway’ (‘Železnice’ in Czech), “which sums up the otherwise long and not easily memorable name of the company”. The letter is stylised as “a rails scheme – three parallel railway tracks linked by a railroad switch”. The agency adds: “[the] symbol Ž effectively renders the company generally intelligible and comprehensible.”

Studio Marvil, SŽDC branding

The modernity of the identity is based on the clever choice of the Styrene typeface, a geometric sans serif Commercial Type font that has a sense of an impactful workhorse, and holds its own in various weights across the identity’s application. It also remains perfectly legible across the ridges on the side of freight containers, giving a slightly woozy but industrial appearance.

Implementation of the new identity will begin in December next year.

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