Design & Strategy

Cheering for, Vy!

What will it take for NSB (Norwegian State Railways) to succeed with its new name Vy?

Column in Dagens Næringsliv 18.03.2019.
By Wanda Grimsgaard.

In a few years, we may not remember that Vy was once NSB (Norwegian State Railways). Most of us have long forgot names of Norwegian companies like Televerket, Norske Meierier and Ergogroup. Today we know them as Telenor, Tine and Evry. The former names were well established in the market, many associated them with something familiar and secure, perhaps also loyalty and pride. Such associations take time to build and are the cornerstones of a brand.

Many reacted with shock and disbelief when NSBs new name was announced. Why? Well, because name is identity. We all have a relationship with the name NSB, both good and bad, based on our own experiences and media coverage of delays and other problems. It's the name the company is known by, that people remember, refer to, associate with and at best have strong relationships with. Because the name is so closely linked to the company in the customer's memory, it’s also the most difficult element to change. So why do some companies choose to nevertheless change their name?

A name change is a strategic choice, and usually the result of new goals and strategies. The reason may be business restructuring, a merger, a change in the product portfolio, new market needs, more players on the market, increased competition or other factors. These are situations that the company's management and board have a responsibility to address so that the company can be competitive and sustainable in the longer term. Most people rarely get an insight into these strategic processes. We just see the visual results in the form of a new name and a new logo. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

NSB's new name is to create associations with the company's vision. Vision is a strategic choice that sets the course for the company, a dream for the future and a guiding star. CEO Geir Isaksen of NSB talks about a vision with prospects and ambitions for the future. Hence the name Vy [Norwegian for “view”], which is also meant to express that they want to give their passengers experiences, images and views. This is a value proposition.

The value proposition is what the company promises its customers, employees and partners, what the company is to deliver and is to be measured by. Making a promise is binding. The promise shall tell the outside world what the company actually does and how competent it is. The value proposition is therefore a good basis for a position on how the company will compete in a market characterised by increased competition.

For Vy to succeed, they must be able to create customer experiences that match the values and associations they want to build.

The name should:

  1. Express the company's values, position and desired reputation.
  2. Create the right associations.
  3. Be short, preferably under six letters.
  4. Be easy to remember and easy to pronounce.
  5. Provide a basis for an interesting graphical form.
  6. Have appeal and a positive intonation.
  7. Be unique and differentiated from competitors.

Jeg vil gratulere NSB med et modig valg av visjon «Den beste reisen» ("The best trip"). Snøhetta has taken the vision further in the name, while creating a name that satisfies the criteria for a good brand name.

Det er en suksessfaktor at navnet, logoen og slagordet signaliserer de assosiasjonene virksomheten vil etablere i brukerens bevissthet. Det er allikevel først og fremst gjennom den helhetlige opplevelsen av det å være togpassasjer; før, under og etter reisen – at assosiasjonene bygges. Det er der tillit, lojalitet og faste langvarige kundeforhold skapes, og som til slutt gjør navnet og logoen til en sterk merkevare. Det er det som avgjør om Vy lykkes. 280 millioner kroner for en slik investering kan vise seg å være billig.

It is a success factor that the name, logo and slogan signal the associations the company wants to establish in the user's awareness. However, it is primarily through the overall experience of being a railway passenger - before, during and after the trip - that associations are built. That is where trust, loyalty and solid long-lasting customer relationships are created, which ultimately makes the name and logo a strong brand. This is what determines whether Vy will succeed. NOK 280 million for such an investment may turn out to be cheap.

I cheer on Vy and wish the company the best of luck in creating good experiences for its customers.


Reference: he article was published in Dagens Næringsliv 19.03.2019.

Article author: Wanda Grimsgaard, Professor of Visual Communication at the University of South-Eastern Norway (USN) and author of the book “Design og strategi. Processes and methods for the strategic development of design” [Design and strategy].


Read and see more: Vy – New Name and Visual Identity for the Norwegian State Railways

Facsimile from Dagens Næringsliv 18.03.2019.
Facsimile from Dagens Næringsliv 18.03.2019.