Nationale Spoorwegen / National Railway

50 years NS Design: an iconic brand

A textbook branding. That is how the now fifty years old (!) brand of our national railway company NS is still seen today. According to brand and marketing specialist Roel Stavorinus that is.

As member of Design Management Network, Roel participated in a the event “Ground Breaking Design’, which as main subject told the story of the iconic NS branding and discussed its value for design management today.

“It is special, a branding that has been successfully maintained for half a century. With a strong logo that (almost) every Dutch person knows, recognises and associates with the sender. Certainly in a time of advancing digitisation and a fleeting use of logos, sufficient reason to reflect on why this specific NS branding has been working well for fifty years” says Roel.

"We find ourselves in a period of volatility where only aesthetics seem to govern at the expense of expression and clarity"

Together with Spoorwegmuseum curator Evelien Pieterse, designer of the NS branding Gert Dumbar and designer Henri Ritzen, the participants set out to answer two main questions:

What is needed to successfully apply a branding as a large organisation?

And what can we learn from this case, also with a view to clients and designers of today and tomorrow?

Roel: ‘We find ourselves in a period of volatility where only aesthetics seem to govern at the expense of expression and clarity. For example, see the rapidly changing logos of AirBnB, Uber and Google, or – as a low point – a local logo contest to arrive at the identity of a merged municipality ‘. With retroactive effect, Roel is therefore full of admiration about the NS branding: the thorough design process, the daring, the vision and the professional cooperation between the NS and the designers: ‘It is actually a blueprint for all those corporate identity trajectories we often see to fail.’

👉 Find the full article here (in Dutch).

👉 Discuss design with Roel

  • Roel Stavorinus
    Brand Strategist

    Roel Stavorinus