ATS Traffic is one of the biggest and most well-known traffic management companies in Canada. They supply products and services to companies in all kinds of industries, but their bread and butter is in combining these products and services to create different combinations that they call solutions. By customizing these solutions, they can solve just about any traffic-related challenge.
ATS had acquired several companies over the years. Most had kept using their old names. As a result, they had six branches across western Canada operating under four names: Inprotect Systems, Alberta Traffic Supply, Guardian Traffic Services, and Trafco Canada.
ATS had tried to solve this problem by introducing the name ATS Traffic Group, but there was no sense of unity in the brand. They realized they needed some outside help to get the company where it needed to be.
Discovery + Strategy
We’d been working with ATS for some time on their marketing materials, so we already had a good understanding of the company. That said, we still wanted to fill in the blanks in our existing research.
Our team visited branches across Canada to have face-to-face conversations with employees and customers. We talked about what they felt, what they believed, and how they related to the company and the current brand.
The responses varied from person to person and branch to branch, but one common theme emerged: every employee we interviewed said communication was lacking at every level of the company. Most people were on board with the idea of rebranding, but with the condition that they would know what was happening and be included in the process.
Next we gathered all existing and archived print materials, digital files, and other tangible pieces of the company to see what ATS was using, where, and to what effect. We also audited the company’s locations in each city. Some looked great and carried the brand throughout, while others needed a little TLC.
Using the photos from our research trip, we broke down each area of each branch to show ATS what they were doing well and what they needed to improve.
All the branches shared the same symbol accompanied by different names and text. The old logo was meant to unite the branches visually, but because it represented an intersection, its fractured look suggested division within the company. The new brand needed to bring the companies together under one banner, and a fresh start was the best way to do that.
General consensus was that whatever name we chose, all branches should share it. While nobody knew what ATS stood for, everyone knew the name, and they didn’t want to lose that brand equity. Everyone agreed “traffic” was important, but “group” got mixed reactions. Some people felt it sounded like a large company, while others thought it suggested a divided company.
With our recommendation, the name was shortened to ATS Traffic.
ATS is a company that helps people navigate cities, highways, and construction zones to simplify a complicated journey. We distilled ATS’s role in that journey into the universal symbol for direction: an arrow.
Invented as an efficient way to reach a target in a straight line, the arrow was improved over time to travel farther, faster, and more accurately. One addition was the fletching at the end of the shaft, which helps the arrow travel straight and true to its destination.
The new icon also brought back the red dot, one of the most recognizable parts of the original logo from 1966. At the centre of the circle is a chevron, another universal symbol for direction. It points right to suggest forward movement and connects with an arrow shaft to represent guidance.
We also chose to continue using the red and black colour palette. No other company in the industry was using red, which allowed us to own it while giving a nod to ATS’s heritage.
We designed icons to represent each of ATS’s solutions, as well as the types of customers they work with.
For photography, we worked with a satellite imaging company to get top-down aerial shots of the cities where ATS works. This subtly tells the viewer that ATS has a bird’s-eye view of everything involved in a project. We used these images for most promotional pieces, but we also had shots of road workers and products for when a boots-on-the-ground look was needed.
From road signs and safety stickers to marketing brochures and reflective streetwear, ATS had dozens of touchpoints spanning every department. And like the rest of the old brand, there wasn’t much consistency across the board.
We created a unified look for all of these touchpoints and rolled everything out as part of a staged approach. That way the team had the materials they needed, when they needed them.
When it was time to launch the new brand, we knew employees had to be the first to know. We planned an internal launch first to tell them why it was happening, explain what the new brand stood for, and give them a sense of ownership and pride. We also designed swag items like caps and shirts that employees could wear to grow more comfortable with the new brand.
Customers and vendors were the next to find out. We started by including a simple but compelling message alongside the new logo with all invoices and cheques. Then we had a big brand launch and kicked off an advertising campaign that introduced the brand to the public.
Before the project began, ATS had separate, slightly different sites for each of the branches. This meant that when they changed content, they had to do it in multiple places, so it just wasn’t possible to keep the site up to date. Our goal was to make the new website as easy to manage as humanly possible.
On the back end, we combined the sites into a single powerful site that could handle location information for all of the branches. Repeated pieces of content got their own templates so people only had to make the change in a single place and have it update everywhere on the site.
On the customer-facing side, we created a much cleaner and clearer user experience. We introduced the brand photography and iconography to align the visuals with the new identity.
We designed the site to focus on educating existing and prospective customers about ATS’s products, services, and solutions. Each section explains ATS’s capacity, know-how, and expertise. The products section in particular explores the depth of their inventory and manufacturing capabilities.
We also placed calls to action throughout the site to encourage visitors to visit the online store or talk to an ATS sales rep.
This was one of the largest rebranding projects we’ve ever done, and it was an intense experience that tested what we could do both creatively and strategically.
The result was an effective brand that captured what makes ATS who they are and unified six branches across Canada. With that in place, ATS Traffic is ready to face the next 50 years—together.