Alder Valley was a made-up name, created in January 1972 when the National Bus Company combined Thames Valley Traction — in state ownership since 1948 — with the Aldershot & District Traction Company, owned by BET until 1967.

The full name was the Thames Valley & Aldershot Omnibus Company, but it always traded as Alder Valley even though, as far as we can tell, there is no geographical feature by that name. Aldershot was probably named after Alder trees in that part of Hampshire.

So how might it look today if it had remained intact and independent? That was this month’s challenge for us.

These rebranding exercises often take inspiration from the area served by the former operator, but in the case of Alder Valley it was the earthy natural tone of the name itself that got the creative juices going.

Buses, in general, get a bad rap for being diesel-guzzling polluters, so our plan was to introduce a breath of fresh air (pun intended) and challenge the rest of the industry to catch up. Alder Valley would have its entire fleet of electric vehicles run by electricity generated from renewable sources. The bus interiors would be made from recycled or reclaimed materials, a ‘planet and passenger promise’ introduced as well as being a carbon neutral company.

If the company’s positioning was going to be its green credentials, the branding had to follow suit. The A and V were worked into a double leaf shape, with a soft graduating green working well with the flat colour of the logotype. The typeface was chosen as it has a natural organic feel.

For the livery, we wanted an organic valley scene with a hint of urban landscape. So to achieve this, the imagery was illustrated by hand and transferred to the computer to create a slightly distressed look with texture.

Both the logo and some of the design features were overlaid on a recycled paper texture to give a printed effect. This is particularly prominent on the timetable cover, which would be printed on a 100% recycled, uncoated stock. Naturally.

For the route branding, we chose to name the services after trees. Each one could then be identified by the tree’s leaf and colour.

So Alder Valley develops a 21st-century green ethos and offers those who abandon their cars, even more satisfaction in knowing they are helping the environment.

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