hidden europe 22

Geography matters: exploring the placeless brand

by Nicky Gardner


There was a time when train companies had names that told you where their trains might run. The Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway, for example. Ditto airlines. Siberia Airlines served Siberia. But modern brands defy geography and pretend to be placeless. A pity perhaps, because in our book geography matters!

ONE is no more. one was the name of a train company that once sought to serve parts of eastern England. We were quite thankful when one changed their name earlier this year, because actually it was well nigh impossible to write about one without invoking a sharp rebuke from the company for failing to render their name with the clean precision that they themselves favoured. No capitals, no inverted commas. Just one. Anyway, googleproof one has morphed into the less terse National Express East Anglia. Essex may have lost one, but it is still blessed with a train company called c2c, presumably dreamt up by image consultants who communicate only by text messages.

The likes of one and c2c exemplify modern endeavours to take geography out of travel. Their company names give no clue as to what communities they might serve.