Case study

Behaviour change strategy propels active travel across Somerset town

  • Value added:

    • Grow reputation and awareness
    • Build better relationships

The Client

Somerset Council (formerly Somerset County Council) is the local government of the county.

The Challenge

To encourage more Bridgwater residents to choose active travel to leverage the cycle and walking paths and ease congestion on the town’s busy roads.

What Merchant did

Local stakeholder insight

To ensure success, first-hand insight was required, so a meeting with local stakeholders was initiated to gain key insights into the core road user demographic. Using this intel, personas were developed for each stakeholder group, including businesses, commuters and schools. Identifying and segmenting the audiences in this way ensured the messaging and brand materials would target the individual behavioural changes required of Bridgwater’s resident road users.

Developing ‘The Bridgwater Way’ brand campaign

The key goal was a reduction in the number of road journeys made throughout Bridgwater coupled with an increased uptake of cycle paths, car sharing schemes, and walking, as viable travel alternatives. With an existing cycle path in the area, branded the Bridgwater Way, it was decided that the best way to resonate with the local market would be by repurposing this established brand asset.

The Merchant design team evolved the Bridgwater Way logo, while keeping the essence of the brand intact. This then became the basis for the entire visual identity of the campaign, while Bridgwater Way itself became a wider campaign message, promoting the use of cycling, walking and car sharing as ‘the Bridgwater way’. Changing the meaning of these words from a simple place name within the town to a meaningful ethos empowered the Council with a slogan that not only resonates with the local catchment but also instils a sense of pride within the community.

Gaining feedback to ensure sustainable change

With the brand established, we reconnected with the stakeholder focus groups in Bridgwater to engage their feedback on the visual identity and brand messaging we’d created. Key takeaways from this session ensured the final branding resonated with Bridgwater residents and delivered a meaningful message that struck a chord with the target audience.

Ensuring brand consistency

To ensure sustainable brand consistency, a comprehensive set of brand guidelines was created, expressly outlining the campaign’s application across varying touch points, from physical signage and photography. Annotated examples of each application are included throughout the guidelines, ensuring the integrity of the brand remains intact across every visual asset generated going forward.

Communicating the benefits of active travel

With the brand established, we’ve spearheaded an ongoing programme of communications campaigns, focused on amplifying awareness about new routes and enhancements as well as the advantages of active travel for getting around the town.

From highlighting routes tailored to daily commutes and school journeys to showcasing the active travel experiences of local residents in the media, as well as local influencers on their social channels, these campaigns have enhanced the visibility and uptake of the Bridgwater Way map and route planner as well as more widespread adoption of the town’s cycling and walking paths.

Results and value added

Grow reputation and awareness 

Embedded a behaviour change programme, which is seeing more residents choose active travel over car journeys

Build better relationships

Improved stakeholder communication, with residents’ feedback driving the town’s active travel agenda