5.1.1 SYSTEM IDENTITY
One of the benefits of a publicly managed system is the ability to brand bikeshare,
establishing a strong visual connection between the city and the system. Bikeshare system
names are typically one short word, carry a positive and ideally local connotation, and should
be easy to pronounce, especially in the local language. The name can either reflect some
aspect of the system, or the system can take a positive connotation from the name it is using.
A well-thought-out name can be a way for users to identify with a system. City planning staff
should set aside time to engage in a brainstorming session about potential names, color
schemes, and overall design aesthetics for the system. If a system sponsor has already been
secured, they may be guaranteed naming rights and could also want to be involved in making
In addition to an easily recognizable name, the system should have a logo that is meaningful in
the local context. The logo can help create a vibrant, progressive image for the system. A
tagline can even more directly link the name to the function of the system. It can ground a
name in what bikeshare offers for the individual or the community. For example, the tagline for
Chicago’s Divvy system is “Divide and Share,” explaining the concept of bikeshare and
characterizing the system name as related to sharing in just three words.
5.1.2 INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS
Internal communication to educate staff and officials from the city, departments within the
city (such as parks and recreation, environment, sustainability, or transportation), and other
transport operators about the service the system will provide, and its costs and benefits,
is critical. The internal campaign is more than a presentation to each relevant department.
Most important is a focus on integrating the bikeshare system into the city’s overall transport
framework and emphasizing the potential for bikeshare to contribute to city sustainability and
mobility goals. Advancements in pricing and operational coordination between bikeshare and
other modes will depend on solid channels of communication between department staff. For
example, if a new protected bike lane is being planned, engineers and/or planning staff should
be encouraged to contact the staff overseeing bikeshare implementation who may want to site
a new station to coincide with the opening of the protected route.
5.1.3 EXTERNAL MARKETING
External campaigns inform the public about the merits of bikeshare, how and where the
system works, and benefits to the individual and to the city as a whole. Surveys, focus groups,
or direct interviews on the street may help to glean a better understanding of the wants and
needs of the population, and could result in a successful marketing campaign. Some cities may
be able to use existing transport system survey responses, which typically provide information
on the concerns of users (i.e., overcrowding, safety concerns, uncertainty around pricing, etc.)
and can inform messaging of promotional campaigns around bikeshare.
External marketing campaigns should make use of all types of media—blogs, social media, bus
shelter ads, local newspapers, even the bikes themselves—to reach as many different
audiences as possible. Messaging that relates to users’ own benefits (lower cost of travel, less
travel time than other modes, improved health due to physical activity, more practical and
flexible service), rather than solely emphasizing the benefits to society or the world (lower
emissions, etc.), can be particularly effective. For the initial launch of the system, the city
might consider working proactively with a media consultant to define a public narrative about
the system that is cohesive with the branding and system identity.
New and vibrant marketing campaigns should be launched periodically to spark enthusiasm in the system and further entrench it in the city’s cultural fabric. Every December, Chicago’s Divvy bikeshare runs a “Holidivvy” campaign, deploying one candy-cane striped bike and encouraging riders to snap photos and post them to social media when they see or ride the Holidivvy bike. Vancouver’s Mobi bikeshare partnered with local businesses to launch their “Mobi on Over” campaign, in which users who rode bikeshare to participating businesses received special discounts. Berlin’s bikeshare system partnered with music streaming service, Deezer, to offer free 30 minute bikeshare rides to Deezer customers in exchange for company advertisements on bikeshare bikes.
All marketing materials should show a diversity of users to underscore that bikeshare is inclusive of and works for all demographic and socioeconomic groups. Bilingual campaigns should also be considered. Furthermore, different messages that promote bikeshare may resonate with certain groups and not others and marketing campaigns should take this into account. For example, lower-income groups tend to value the exercise potential and opportunity to spend time riding with family that bikeshare offers and do not necessarily view bikeshare as a means of saving time on their trip (compared to other modes) or as a means of increasing accessibility to jobs.
Still, while customized, inclusive marketing will help foster community buy-in, it is not enough
on its own. Targeted, on-the-ground outreach and education within communities is critical to
attracting a larger, more diverse ridership base.