Season 5 - Creating the brand

Episode 2 - To launch or not to launch?

Adrien Aumont — Firstly, the logo and visual identity created by Yorgo Tloupas remained a secret. They were essentially meant for decks for potential investors. Very few people would actually see them. But after a few months, a strategic question came to us: should we stay under the radar until we’ve built our trains? Or until we were ready to start selling tickets? Or, on the other hand, should we start making the wider public aware of the brand and start building a community?

The issue was so important that it went up to our strategic board, which initially wasn’t keen on the idea of an official launch. There were certainly some risks. It was 2021 and we knew that we wouldn’t start selling tickets for a long time. So there was a risk that there weren’t enough concrete details for the public and press to be interested in our story. What’s more, we would have to build up a narrative that was compatible with a potential delay in the launch of our trains.

Romain Payet — Despite the risks, we were convinced that we had to do it, we had to launch. In the railway world, you need credibility, and at that moment, even though we had an impressive strategic board, we still needed a little more. We told ourselves that by getting our name out there, creating a community and taking it along for the ride with us, we would gain some of that credibility. It would give us more to go on when speaking with partners, investors, manufacturers. It would also mean our competitors were aware of us,and to say to all those looking to launch sleeper trains that we could be there too.

What’s more, we both thought that creating a community would be a good start for selling tickets when we finally came to a commercial launch. That’s because we will have had more time to send the right messages to those who follow us, to explain our vision for the sleeper train and for Midnight Trains. This would allow us to save time in our communication. This was all the more important because we knew that we wouldn’t have budgets as big as those of the aviation or railway giants. Plus, making ourselves known to the wider public would open up opportunities to be interviewed and invited to speak to various media, newspapers, magazines, TV programmes and podcasts, both in France and abroad. We didn’t know if reality would live up to our hopes, but those were the arguments we used to convince our board that we needed to launch.

Adrien Aumont — And then it was the European Commission‘s official year of the railways. We knew the subject would appear regularly in the media and in political circles, so it would be stupid not to make the most of this.

However, to do this, we needed a means of communication that suited our vision for Midnight Trains. During all the years I’ve worked in advertising, I’ve become convinced that you’ve got to behave more like a publisher than a brand, that you need to produce rich, relevant and entertaining content. Without that, a brand can quickly become irrelevant and forgettable, especially at a time when we’re all being bombarded with content on social media and the internet more generally.

Based on all that, we were taken with the idea of a newsletter. It’s not too expensive and it’s not intrusive. Each subscriber chooses to sign up (or not), to open it (or not), to delete it (or not). That said, we needed to offer something strong that would capture the attention of readers, rather than a send with just three, five-line articles with links that redirect you to a page where you discover that articles are in reality… seven lines long. Our newsletter would have to fulfil two missions. On the one hand, it had to convey that the railway world is cool, exciting and full of fascinating stories. On the other hand, it had to make our identity and brand known to readers. That’s how we came up with the first version of the newsletter, with stories from the rich history of the rails and various cultural suggestions that would help people understand the Midnight Trains spirit. Recipes from chefs we like that people could make over the weekend. Films we like that they could watch in the evening. A playlist so they could take a bit of us everywhere and plunge into our cultural and artistic universe.

Finally, we needed something in-depth, so those reading the whole thing would be satisfied and impressed by the work put in by our team. We wanted to be respected. We’ve applied that philosophy to every part of this adventure: quality tops quantity. Both in the newsletter and in all aspects of our communication.

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