Saying ‘Hullo’ to B.C.’s newest ferry service

The Vancouver Island Ferry Company recently unveiled its new high-speed ferry service Hullo, which connects Vancouver and Nanaimo via a 70-minute crossing across the Salish Sea.

The brand identity was developed by Zulu Alpha Kilo, which won the assignment in 2021. In addition to the ferries, it extends across all of the brand’s digital communications and physical assets, from stationery and travel bags, to water bottles and apparel.

We asked ZAK’s chief design officer Stephanie Yung to walk us through some of the brand elements and how they were determined.

You had us at “Hullo”

It’s no Boaty McBoatface, but the service’s name is intended to evoke a sense of comfort, approachability, and familiarity, said Yung.

“Hullo” is, of course, a mashup of the boat term “hull” and “hello.”

The wordmark’s design is divided between the brand’s three primary colours (see below), with the “u” in the word “Hullo” dipping below the horizon line into the green below, reminiscent of a boat’s hull extending below the waterline.

The Futwora Bold font is specifically intended to be “approachable” and “friendly,” with a simplistic shape and form that’s intended to evoke the brand, said Yung. “Much like the flow of our vessel on the Salish Sea, our floating copy playfully ferries back and forth, East and West, across the page.”

The colour of ferry

The inspiration for the brand’s colour scheme was the emerald-green water of the Salish Sea, the body of water that lies between Vancouver Island and the B.C. Coast.

The green of the ocean, meanwhile, is complemented by a secondary green reflective of the lush rainforest that characterizes the area.

The contrasting colours are a nautical-inspired orange, and a warm grey reminiscent of the area’s beaches.

“Our brand and vessels are gorgeous, and so meaningful as they tie in so perfectly with our community around us,” said Xander France, director of sales and marketing with the Vancouver Island Ferry Company.

The boat design

ZAK also worked closely with Netherlands-based Damen Shipyards Group on the ferries’ catamaran design.

“The ferry itself boasts a welcoming and contemporary design from stern to bow, inside and out,” said Yung.

“They brought creative and innovative concepts to us that really make the vessels stand out in the industry,” said Damen’s design and proposal engineer, Thijs Muskens.

The two ferries, each capable of carrying 354 passengers, were manufactured in Vietnam, and arrived in B.C. late last month. They have been given the hul’q’umi’num names, spuhéls (wind) and sthuqi (sockeye salmon). Hullo service is expected to begin next month.

Chris Powell