On 1st June 2018 Virgin Trains East Coast announced their support for Pride Month on Twitter. Using a screenshot here as the logo has now been changed.
This new logo did two things. It showed VTEC was supporting Pride but also it finally gave us a distinctive logo so that we can easily spot the VTEC Twitter account from the west coast one which usually has an identical logo (#BrandConfusion).
It turned out that Trainbow was more than just marketing deciding to put a few rainbow stickers on things, it was the result of a lot of hard work from people at VTEC who are passionate about supporting Pride. From the social media team ^KM mentioned in one of the tweets that he was one of the team that helped create and brand Trainbow and that he feels "very passionately about preventing discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community on the railway". A lot of effort has been put into this. I'm not sure who else was in the team but I'm sure they've been just as passionate about this project too.
VTEC are sponsoring York Pride and the Trainbow livery on one of their sets (91103 I think) is to help promote this event as well as other Pride events on the east coast route. I hope they have an LNER branded version to use from 24 June so we can still have the Trainbow for Newcastle Pride (July) and the other Pride events on the route. I don't think I can make York Pride this year (last time I did was 2015) but if you can, pop down and give them your support. They've put a lot of effort in here.
While I'm saying nice things about VTEC it's also worth pointing out that they're also raising money for charities including the suicide prevention charity CALM and the LGBT youth homeless charity the Albert Kennedy Trust.
So what happened? A few days after the Trainbow logo appeared it was replaced with the generic Virgin Trains pride logo on social media which is neither as stunning (as the background is red the rainbow colours don't stand out as much) and doesn't reference the Trainbow.
It just doesn't have the same visual impact.
Why did they do it? The only reason I can think of is brand guidelines. I've seen the Virgin style guidelines and they ask for a consistent look between both the franchises. This in practice means an identical logo for both franchises, which makes it easier to get the two mixed up.
Having the distinctive logo helped VTEC stand out, it helped promote the Trainbow and the involvement of VTEC with York Pride.
I think the right thing to do is to go back to the Trainbow logo on social media, VTEC is gone soon, forget about the brand guidelines and go out on a high note!
This is another example of why I'm looking forward to LNER. Once again the ECML will have its own brand, hopefully one all the staff can be proud to work for, a brand that will develop its own style and personality rather than VTEC that tries too hard to be Virgin.
I'd like to see LNER commit to supporting York Pride in 2019 and hopefully they can also support Newcastle Pride which VTEC did really well in 2015 but almost neglected the event ever since. Pride means a lot to many of the VTEC/LNER staff and I'm sure they'd love to continue the good work.
Here's a look back at Newcastle Pride 2015.