The 1960s were a golden age for identity design, but very few identities from that era are still in use today. One exception is the logo designed for NS – Nederlandse Spoorwegen, or Dutch Railways: part of an ambitious revitalisation program.
Like many railways around the world, the Dutch Railways were in decline during the 1960s, with stiff competition from new roads, affordable cars and other modes of transport. Spoorslag '70 was the name given to an aggressive strategy aimed at revitalising the national railways by introducing new trains, improved routes and intercity services. The new identity reflected a company-wide desire to modernise, with a strong image designed to renew public confidence.
The design of the iconic NS symbol is deceptively simple: the arrows represent the outgoing and return journeys, while the two central lines represent the track. With its striking blue and yellow colours and classic modernist typography, the identity is flexible and instantly recognisable. Over the years it’s been applied to everything from trains, stations and wayfinding signage, to uniforms, timetables, tickets and more.
Gert Dumbar designed the NS logo as a creative director at Tel Design. In 1977 he established Studio Dumbar, who worked on Dutch Railways projects throughout the 1980s, including information graphics for route planners and timetables that are still in use today. The NS logo remains one of the oldest logos still in use; the lifespan and benchmark status of this project is testament to identity design at its best.