Vancouver Limo Service Brand

Guess who was the best man at a wedding last weekend?  Yup… ME.

Nothing new though, because in my books, I’m the best man every day of the week.  haha.

Anyway, the reason I bring it up is NOT just because I like to impose my big headed ego on all my website visitors.  The reason I bring it up is because I thought the branding of this Vancouver limo service we used for the wedding was quite well done.  They’re called VanCity Limos and they’re right here in town.

Now, I don’t know about you, but the vast majority of limousine websites and branding I’ve seen in my day are just terrible.  And heck… can you really blame them?  They’re a limo company, many of which are owned and run as family businesses and they don’t have time to mess with those logo details.  Not their fault… no worries.  So maybe the branding of the limo company we went with wasn’t super great overall, but I was impressed based on the expectations I have in my mind for limousine companies.

Alright, so VanCity Limos…  I did a good amount of research into them and all their different web properties to see if they’ve done a good job being thorough.  You know, because if you look at 9 out of 10 non-technical service companies out there, they might have a half decent website, a facebook page with no pictures, name spelled wrong, really butt ugly, etc.  In short, they’re usually incomplete, sloppy, ugly, or all of the above.

So VanCity Limos may not be the greatest and well put together brand out there, but they surprisingly seem to have a lot of their stuff together.  Here’s a little list of what they’ve got:

1. WEBSITE

It’s fairly simple, nothing crazy fancy.  I think its simplicity is its strength though.  Right when you land on the homepage, there’s the phone number big and bold right at the top—you can’t miss it.  Love it.  I can’t tell you how many times I go to a restaurant or business website and I have to dig around all over their website hunting for a phone number.  It drives me nuts.  I can tell you that many restaurants have missed my business just because they made it so hard for me to find the number.  Next, they’ve got a free quote form on what seems like every bloody page on their website.  Maybe a bit overkill?  It looks a little bit pushy, but it does make it easy for the user for sure.  Following my example with the phone number, having the quote form so accessible is probably a really good idea.  Lastly, the navigation bar has everything you’re looking for—home, services, fleet, about, contact, blog.  Perfect… not too little, not too much.  Oh yeah, the website is also responsive.

I feel like the website could look a little nicer, but they definitely have the function part of it down.  In the mobile version of the website, the form is pushed to the very bottom of the page, which sort of sucks… but they redeem themselves with a button at the top, which automatically scrolls you down to the form.  Nice touch!

Last thing for real on this topic… they’ve got a favicon!  And not just a crappy unreadable or ugly favicon.  It’s nice.  It just says LIMO.  Short and sweet.

2.  LOGO & COLORS

pic_VanCity-Limos-Logo_727592_largeThey’ve got a black, white and red color scheme going on.  The look of the website has a dark background.  Good choice.  It’s tricky to have too much color for a limousine service brand.  Branding a limo company is an interesting issue.  The hard part is that limo companies service a wide variety of events and occasions, all of which have a different feel or mood.  You’ve got light happy weddings, the darker nightlife partying, casino tours, wine tours, and corporate transportation—all very different.  How do you brand for all of those?  Like I said, really tricky.  I think going for a very monochromatic theme is probably really smart, and that’s what they’ve done.  So, the logo is pretty nice in my opinion.  It’s clean, sleek and has a classy city feel to it.  I was more impressed when I saw their video where the logo is actually animated.  Check it out here.  The animated logo shows in the beginning and at the end:

3. SOCIAL MEDIA PROPERTIES

Like I said, many small companies (companies like limo services especially), don’t care to set up or maintain their social media properties properly or at all.  VanCity Limos has a facebook page, youtube, twitter, google plus, yelp and even foursquare.  Here are links to all of them:

And look!  ALL web properties fully populated with descriptions, content and images!  Now for a small business, that is impressive.  To take it up a notch, the pages aren’t just complete, the content and branding even looks quite good.  Some of their web properties are a little sparse.  Their twitter, facebook and google plus only have a little bit of content on there.  Maybe they’ve neglected the pages or maybe they’re new, I’m not really sure.

Anyway, that’s that.  That’s VanCity Limos, a local limousine service company in Vancouver that has branding I was reasonably impressed with.  The service they gave us for the wedding was really good too.  I recommend them if you happen to be looking for a limo in the Vancouver area.  (they service other surrounding cities as well… we had them drive up to North Van and drop us off in Burnaby).

Vancouver Convention Centre Website

I attended a conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre recently.  It was my first time actually going inside the building.  I had driven by a couple times and taken quick glances at it but have never gone close or into the building.

After the conference, I was really impressed with the convention centre building.  It’s beautiful!  I regret not going to take a look earlier.  It’s been there for a good while already.

It’s right on the water, it’s got an amazing iconic green roof, uses a ton or reclaimed wood that was incorporated into the design beautifully, the spaces inside are grand and functional, and the views from inside the building are spectacular.  Just take a look at some of these photos:

and here’s their corporate video which shows off many aspects of the building:

Just to give you a bit of perspective on how big this place is, they’ve got almost half a million square feet of space and can accommodate a banquet for 6000 people.

Naturally, after my increased intrigue about the building, I wanted to see if they had a website to check out if they had any more cool stuff to see and if their website lived up to the impression that the building gave me.

They in fact do have a website: VancouverConventionCentre.com.

Unfortunately, when I first landed on the website, I felt a rather large disconnect.  I didn’t feel like the website did the building justice at all.

There’s a lot of great content on the site, but something about the site just felt weird.

Take a look at these screenshots for reference:

Here’s a short numbered list rant about the Vancouver Convention Centre website:

1. LAYOUT

The landing page is confusing.  It feels like there’s too many options.  Links on top, on the side and on the bottom.  Don’t get me wrong… links on the top, side and bottom are pretty common.  For some reason here, it’s confusing.

It’s confusing because of the types of links they are.  Some of the links at the bottom, I would normally expect to be at the top.  The links on the side are fine I guess.  My guess is that they figured out the top three functions of their website for the top three types of visitors, and stuck them there in plain view.  Good on them.  I think it’s a good call and I imagine it works well.  However, where they go wrong with this is in…

2. THE MOBILE SITE

Take a look at the mobile site. There’s little resemblance to the desktop site, except for the background and logo.  The entire menu is stripped down to 6 choices.  The content is laid out completely different.

I understand that it might be a little overwhelming to have that many options on a mobile site, but it looks as if the content on the desktop site isn’t even accessible from the mobile site—at least that’s the way it looks at first glance.  If I were a “Visitor” and wanted to book my public tour, like it has on the left of desktop site, I don’t see that there on the mobile site.  Feels a little disconcerting to me, personally.

3. COLOR SCHEME

Sure, they have a color scheme going on.  Things are a clean blue and white.  BUT… there’s a thing called active colors and passive colors.  It should be really clear to the user what can be interacted with or clicked on and what can’t.

It looks like their intention is that blue is their active color.  This works and looks great on the left.  It breaks for the top navigation bar, and the tagline “INSPIRATION STARTS HERE” is NOT clickable.  The line just below it is a different shade of blue (weird?).

When I hover over the black navigation bar at the top, I get more menu items… sub menu items.  I don’t have a screenshot of them, but the submenu items are white text on a dark navy blue background.  Confusing and inconsistent if you ask me…

This is maybe a small thing, but the logo is a different shade of blue than the website’s theme blue.

4. LOGO

I can say with quite a bit of certainty that the logo and website were designed separately.  It’s always a slippery slope when the design of an entire brand is a mish mash of visions.  It’s important to keep everything under one comprehensive vision.

Maybe I was a little harsh on you, Vancouver Convention Centre website…  For what it’s worth, you did pretty good, considering you’re a corporate website.  There are plenty of corporate sites out there that are way worse.