Branding an "engineering wonder of the modern world"
An SIR Case Study | Back to OUR WORK
SIR Client: Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel Commission
Challenge: When it opened in 1964, the 17-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel was recognized as “one of the seven engineering wonders of the modern world.” But not as clear was how to actually get to the new structure and use it — motorists and commercial carriers were used to a ferry system. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel Commission turned to SIR to help it create a branded highway signage system.
Action: SIR worked with the commission to develop potential symbols and colors for the road — a “brand iconology architecture.” We then tested the relative appeal of each through an innovative research technique. We embedded the potential brand icons in a movie shown in theaters across Virginia and asked patrons to watch for visual surprises — the icons were flashed at the same speed as driving by a highway sign. SIR followed up with moviegoers two weeks later. The iconic symbol of a sea gull was what they recalled the most.
Results: Since 1964, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel’s “Follow the Gulls” signage system has helped more than 100 million commercial and passenger vehicles find their way to the bay.