Somerset County Council

Somerset County Council

Tactical campaign, stakeholder engagement, audience segmentation and brand guidelines

Utilising digital mapping technology to tackle road congestion and promote green transport initiatives.

The Brief

As towns and cities across the UK become increasingly populated, with more new drivers qualifying each year, road travel at peak times is a growing issue.

Nationwide in Britain, rush hour traffic is putting added stress on infrastructure and detrimentally impacting the environment, and it’s falling to local authorities in the UK to find an urgent resolution.   

But what do you do if the road congestion you’re battling isn’t purely rush hour related but conversely linked to development taking place in the local area?   

This was the challenge facing Somerset County Council (SCC) when they engaged our digital services.     

Motivated to ease traffic congestion in Bridgwater, Somerset County Council invested heavily into city-wide improvements of its cycling and walking network. Named  The Bridgwater Way, SCC engaged  Merchant to raise awareness of these revamped travel routes and encourage user uptake.   

Utilising digital mapping technology, we  purpose-built SCC an  online route map,  to  highlight Bridgwater’s revamped  walking and cycling routes among community stakeholders and help users plan their journeys. 

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What we did

Raising awareness of Bridgwater’s green travel alternatives 

Many of the new cycling and walking routes created by Somerset County Council were not represented in Google maps, so raising awareness of these routes was one of the map’s main deliverables. Working closely with SCC, we were able to gain valuable insight into the target audience our map needed to engage. This not only included commuters travelling to work during rush hour, but parents and guardians transporting their children to and from the county’s many local schools. 

Key outcomes of The Bridgwater Way map involved raising awareness of the new travel routes and converting local residents to complete short journeys by walking or cycling, instead of by car. To be successful in this endeavour, the map needed to be easily accessible on both desktop and mobile devices, and clearly identify safe cycle paths and walking routes across the town centre and surrounding suburbs.  

Somerset County Council Public Sector Brand campaign Print poster example

Creating The Bridgwater Way map

Our creative, UX and front-end designers developed bespoke mapping graphics, based around several unique colour-coded routes suitable for cycling and walking. Each mapped route makes up a portion of The Bridgwater Way, and features a brief accompanying description, letting users know in advance if the section includes whole or partial off-road paths. This information allows users to make an informed decision, in advance of setting off, about the route’s suitability for their journey based on factors such as ability and confidence.  

Together with highlighting several of Somerset County Councils’ newly revamped cycling and walking routes across Bridgwater town, the map we developed also includes markers for specific points of interest, such as schools, public toilets, cycle parking and bike shops. For ease of use, the map’s features are accessible via a simple toggle view navigation menu, allowing individual users to customise the map’s display, according to the information they want to see presented on the screen.  

Drawing on the most up-to-date network information, The Bridgwater Way map highlights routes which not even Google Maps shows users – making it a must-have reference tool for anyone looking to cycle or walk short distances safely within Bridgwater.  

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Spreading The Bridgwater Way message far and wide

We developed The Bridgwater Way map using Mapbox, a customisable digital platform that’s powered by location data. Used by businesses including Bosch, Lonely Planet, IBM, National Geographic and MasterCard, Mapbox offers the capability to flexibly custom-create maps – functionality our designers leveraged to brand SCC’s The Bridgwater Way cycle map in colours that reinforced the campaign’s brand’s identity.  

The result is a user-friendly application dedicated to promoting green transport routes in Bridgwater and helping users plan their journey – some of which include completely traffic-free routes. Purpose built for Somerset County Council, the interactive map is 100% bespoke and provides the council with a powerful tool to encourage uptake of its new walking and cycling network among Bridgwater road users.  

To support the map’s rollout and highlight awareness of The Bridgwater Way campaign within the county, our Merchant design team also created SCC a series of visual marketing materials. These assets comprised both digital and print communications, all of which reinforced the identity of The Bridgwater Way brand, and formed part of a wider 10-year communications partnership between Merchant and Somerset County Council.  

Print Branding campaign banner examples for Public Sector client Somerset County Council

A bespoke travel tool that can be replicated to address your objectives

As pressure mounts on local authorities to take action against traffic congestion and air pollution, converting local behavioural change is one of the most effective ways for councils to bring about this outcome in their constituencies. With air pollution now the most serious risk to public health after cancer, obesity and heart disease, and the Government’s Clean Air Strategy calling on local authorities to intervene, there’s never been a more pressing time for councils to take direct action.


To talk to us about implementing an interactive walking and cycling route map, similar to the one we successfully created for Somerset County Council, call Hayden at Merchant on 02380 225478 or email 

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Merchant delivered a comprehensive rebrand package of work for us; undertaking initial research, stakeholder focus groups, logo redesign and a new package of brand guidelines.  They were so passionate and gained such an in depth understanding of our project that we further commissioned an online digital cycle and walking route map."

Lisa Rogers

Communications Manager

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