Amtrak Needs Some Series Rebranding Like Yesterday

As a self-proclaimed branding expert and having founded a franchising company I spent a lot of time strategizing on just how to market products and services. This talent of mine and skills set has served me well because today I run a think tank, and we are always coming up with new inventions, innovations, designs, and concepts. Just because you have the best idea in the world doesn't mean you can market it correctly, that's a whole other problem, but without that component you can't make it work, because you can't sell enough of whatever it is you are producing to make any money to make it into an ongoing venture.

What about branding when it comes to the public sector? For instance what about branding a public library, a government agency, or here's a real tough case study for you; how would you rebrand Amtrak? In many regards Amtrak's brand has fallen off the track, is nothing notable, and they've had several starts and stops trying to rebrand their image. Worse, now we see trains with rail cars with different designs, different paint jobs, and even different logos. When I was traveling from Boston to Washington DC I noticed an Amtrak go by that had three different paint jobs on its cars. That's not going to work at all.

Further, I don't think a lot of people want to see the federal government spend the money it needs to rebrand their commuter train program. First of all, Amtrak is losing money, and although it is a pet project of left-leaning politicians, it has always come under attack for its cost overruns, inefficiencies, and ever-increasing budget demands by the political opposition. Not to mention the workers rather like the idea of having their own union, and the legacy costs are now adding to the operational expenses to the point where Amtrak will never make money in the future.

Therefore, one could ask how do you rebrand a dog, no, not an animal, something that has become a bureaucratic blob of inefficiency, almost the poster child for inefficient agencies? That's not going to be easy, but without a good rebranding strategy they are not going to attract enough users and riders to help it pay for itself, and if they continually keep increasing the price of the fares there will be a point at which folks will decide to partake in those transportation services. In fact it's already happening. Should Amtrak cut its losses and shut itself down, or sell it to a private investment bank or business so they instead can run it?

Indeed if they did, I bet the first thing that the private sector would do with that railway is to rebrand it. Maybe we can get Warren Buffett interested, he seems to like railroads, businesses with no competition, and anything that might garner public subsidies or government favoritism. He likes businesses with moats around them. Please consider all this and think on it.

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