Deutsche Bahn. The pulse that keeps Germany moving.


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Everybody in Germany knows Deutsche Bahn, the state railroad company. And everybody has an opinion about it – admittedly, not always a positive one. Our task was to make the company more accessible while at the same time preserving its established brand codes. In a nutshell: turn the annoying mother-in-law into a trusted fried – but don’t change anything! The corporate design relaunch is being implemented gradually, which is in part due to the scope of the project: All business areas with around 300,000 employees, subsidiaries, spin-offs and group-owned start-ups are being converted, taking product cycles into account.


We approached the modernization of the corporate design in two ways. First we radically simplified it to make it more concise. We dissolved the rigid set of design rules and put a modular system in its place. And secondly, we developed a new design element that unleashes its full potential in digital interaction such as micromoments and user interfaces – the very touchpoints that are of increasing importance in the age of digitally networked mobility, where people interact with Deutsche Bahn. It's a simple red line, derived from the logo, called the Pulse. It matches the appearance of the product perfectly. Extremely versatile and capable of carrying on an emotionally meaningful dialog with diverse target groups – which after all range from schoolkids to business travelers, from commuters to vacationers, and from passenger to freight traffic.


The new corporate design of Deutsche Bahn is simple. It breaks away from the inflexible, constructed look of a state-owned company and gains flexibility and conciseness. The pulse becomes the essential element of communication: it is derived directly from the logo and the characteristic stripe on the train and gives Deutsche Bahn the opportunity to convey emotions in digital and animated media. As a linear element, the pulse guides people and offers them orientation, but it can also express emotions and react to the individual situation of the user. It can show joy when the train arrives at its destination, react to situations with a wink, or offer immediate help when something unexpected happens. The pulse is designed to interact with users, for example when it is used as a chatbot or in voice interfaces. It becomes the emotional ambassador of the brand.


The new appearance has empowered Deutsche Bahn to significantly improve its image and position itself as a key player in the mobility revolution in Germany. Compared to the previous design, consumers find it more modern, accessible, and personal – exceeding the defined objectives. This succeeds in particular with the Pulse, which combines flexible applications with emotional appeal.

The new design achieves a 17% increase in brand fit. So people not only recognize Deutsche Bahn in it, they also find it much more appropriate for the company.

Last but not least: We create a portal that makes all assets freely available to internal and external users while reducing the rules to a minimum. This makes it easier for brand builders within the company and at agencies to use them. It also gives the initiatives and brands under the Deutsche Bahn umbrella more leeway to enhance their own visibility while remaining brand-compliant.

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