Our journey with Abellio and West Midlands Rail

By Natasha Langton

This year, the West Midlands rail franchise was awarded to Abellio and two other partners, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co.

You can read more about the franchise win in this article from The Telegraph.  

The first major task of a new operator after a bid win is to enter into a mobilisation period and to communicate this news to its colleagues. With this comes much organisational change to digest: a new employer West Midlands Trains Limited and two new customer facing brands. The pitch, tone and language of this change were vital to making a positive connection with the colleague population.

Our challenge was to internally position the new era for the West Midlands rail franchise as a progression, rather than a transformation. We then encapsulated all the information that needed to be communicated to the stakeholders into the motion graphics video below:

In order to accomplish this, we created a brand mark to work with the main strapline of the project: “making progress together”. The resultant graphic is something that cleverly represents the three companies (Abellio, JRE and Mitsui) that have come together to share their knowledge and expertise in the formation of West Midlands Trains.

The logo, or 'the mark of progress', as we dubbed it, is symbolic of a physical as well as the metaphorical journey that is being taken. The tracks that cut through the diamond are pointed in a north-westerly direction, to represent the main route that the train takes from London to the West Midlands and on to Liverpool. The metaphorical journey is one that must be made by their leaders and employees to progress the quality and efficiency of their service. The three shapes that come together to form the diamond are representative of the three companies (Abellio, JR East and Mitsui) that joined forces to share their knowledge and experience in the formation of the new franchise.


To support this we produced a range of creative communication collateral that were distributed to their colleagues and included promotional videos, a visioning brochure for business leaders, a welcome pack with a "need to know" flyer and a branded tour bus(see below) which went to the different depots over a 4 week period and gave all existing colleagues the chance to come on board, meet key stakeholders and to understand what the new franchaise means for them.

Abellio Bus

Abellio's deputy mobilisation and transition director, Kerry Smith said, "We have worked with Laws of Attraction for a few years, their creative and innovative ways of working, and Vibe solution has shaped the development of our engagement strategy. Laws of Attraction have been key in the creation and development of the engagement of our new colleagues. The new franchise will see £1 billion investment to transform the West Midlands network. A pleasure to work with, not afraid to push the boundaries and challenge the status quo."



Laws of Attraction’s creative director, Graham Forbes, said, "The story of Abellio and West Midlands Trains can best be described as a journey, and it was from this starting point that we were able to conceive the outputs that were required for this project. We have created something that has longevity, as it is important that the collateral has a life beyond the road shows and the mobilisation phase. Unpinning all of our work, however, is the strong understanding that colleagues will only get on board if they believe in the vision and strong relationships are developed throughout. The ability to be able to creatively articulate this through engaging and memorable communications is one of the most effective ways of helping to ensure this happens."



West Midlands Trains