Living Up to A Rich History
The Alaska Railroad is an iconic brand whose transportation infrastructure was critical to building the state. Alaskans feel great affection for its legendary blue & gold cars.
Although the Railroad’s history is well known, awareness of its scale and vibrancy in the current era was lagging. Spawn Ideas was asked to show that the Railroad is more than a beloved historical figure: It’s a vibrant part of Alaska today.
Incorporating Then and Now
Today’s Alaska Railroad is a complex, modern operation with multiple business lines, including passenger, freight, and real estate – as well as over 600 engaged and efficient employees. To showcase this brand’s modern face, Spawn needed to develop a brand platform just as sophisticated as the business it represents.
Executing a Multi-Pronged Strategy
Our efforts focused on three primary objectives: Overhauling the Alaska Railroad’s brand identity (including brand characteristics and personality); Retooling an outdated media planning strategy; and Developing fresh, engaging creative.
We began with research– mining existing quantitative work and working with stakeholders to develop an organic understanding of the business through their eyes.
Then, armed with fresh insights, we developed a creative and media strategy based on the consumer decision-making journey, and included an internal messaging strategy to reintroduce and launch the new brand internally. The result was seamless buy-in and support when the new Alaska Railroad brand went public.
The brand’s new logo was designed to clearly convey Alaska Railroad to consumers – including non-Alaskans who were less familiar with it. Featuring a bold custom font for the word Alaska, it mimics the same Alaska on the sides of passenger train cars, for a visual with incredible equity.
Website & Marketing Campaign
In its role as the Railroad’s digital agency, Spawn developed a new responsive website highlighting powerful imagery and clean navigation. This made it possible for the Alaska Railroad to better communicate with travelers in research and dreaming modes, offering them easy-to-use tools to get their vacation planning done in one spot. (For more on marketing to mode, read these posts.)
For the advertising campaign, we wanted a message that illustrated the true nature of the Alaska Railroad experience and broke through the clutter. So Spawn introduced Now Departing Ordinary to launch into the spring season. Whether a local or a visitor on vacation, the Alaska Railroad is an alternative to other modes of transportation, offering experiences far from ordinary in places that you can only see on the train. Vivid, fantastical imagery was a cornerstone of the campaign.
A Successful Journey
The new site improved the user experience and visitor engagement, more effectively driving rail bookings and sales across all business segments. The online booking sales goal was exceeded by 40%.
“Spawn Ideas has been an outstanding partner with the Alaska Railroad. Instrumental to our success, their smart approach to brand strategy based on a deep understanding of consumer behavior, has yielded strong results for us on numerous fronts. They have been assets in our efforts to effectively engage various stakeholders, including our employees, partners, and customers across all of our business lines.”
Bill O’Leary, president & CEO, Alaska Railroad
American Marketing Association - Alaska Chapter
Public Relations Society of America - Alaska Chapter
Award of Excellence
First Place, Website
AIGA Alaska Chapter The Big One
Gold Award & People’s Choice
Promotional Deisgn & Advertising