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New logo and identity for 13cabs by Thinkerbell

13cabs logo before and after
13cabs logo before and after

13cabs (“one-three-cabs”) is a personal transport service in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Newcastle with a fleet of over 7,500 vehicles throughout Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. It is owned by Cabcharge, and its service options include automated taxi bookings, airport transfers, parcel delivery, wheelchair accessible taxis, maxi taxis, and transport solutions for business. 13cabs is the phoneword for the company’s bookings hotline, 13 2227.

The rebrand coincides with an overhaul of the 13cabs customer experience. This includes a redesigned 13cabs app, improved driver training, improved contact centre operations, a progressive redesign of the entire national fleet of cars, and new look communications.

Old 13CABS logo
Old logo
13CABS taxis with old livery
Taxis with old livery (Source)

The old logo was based on Template Gothic, a defining font of the 1990s grunge aesthetic that was deliberately imperfect. And it was used by a taxi company. I am bewildered as to why this was the font of choice – the letterforms were distorted and unfriendly, even a little bit seedy looking. If they were red, they could have looked like they were written in blood. Not the sort of image you want to convey when you expect people to get into cars with strangers. What did make sense were the use of black shapes behind the characters to suggest the buttons you needed to press on your phone to contact the service. It had become highly recognisable but it was unfortunate that the font had such a cold appearance.

New 13cabs logoNew 13cabs logo (reversed)

The new logo ditches the uppercase letters for an immediately friendlier appearance. In doing so, the designers have been able to incorporate a hidden meaning – the idea that the company “gets you from A to B” is suggested by an arrow extending from the letter a to the letter b. Genius.

13cabs taxi with new livery
Taxi with new livery

The visual identity now uses a black and orange scheme which looks great on the cars. Assuming the branded vehicles are late models as above, they look classy and more inviting to hop into. And with the logo appearing boldly across the sides, the vehicles would be more easily identified from other taxi companies.

13cabs "13" icon
“13” icon (mocked up from references)
13cabs staff uniforms
Staff uniforms

In addition to the logo is a “13” icon which appears on the hood of the cars as well as on staff uniforms. It doesn’t really make sense to use the “13” as a shorthand for the brand as the two digits aren’t unique to the company. I think that in this case, the “ab” should have been utilised instead.

13cabs outdoor executions
Outdoor executions

Advertising layouts introduce rectangles with rounded corners as the background for text set in Visby CF, a geometric sans with subtle humanist influences for a hint of warmth. The compositions are simple and uninspiring, but the messages are clear. Also, the logo appears white on orange on these applications, but I feel it might have been better to stick with orange on black for consistency.

13cabs have also released a series of videos of some of its team members telling stories about their experiences with the company. The videos more or less explain the important role that 13cabs plays in the community, from accommodating those with special needs to providing jobs to new immigrants. It’s a great bit of marketing not just for 13cabs, but the traditional taxi industry as a whole.

Overall, this is a pretty good update for 13cabs, particularly as the old identity was really no more than a lousy logo. The rebranded touch points look more sophisticated and professional, and if the company can deliver the improved customer experiences that it promises, then they deserve to be hailed.

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