The brief
The task was to design the exterior of a medical bus that would assist the public throughout its use. The client was Reading Borough Council who is a government organisation which aims to benefit the residents of Reading.

Purpose and function

The purpose was to inform and assist the public. The ‘SOS’ initiative is nationally recognised. It has been incredibly successful and therefore it was felt by Reading Borough Council that such an initiate would greatly benefit the public.The bus aimed to function in a variety of ways:

  • Assisting students and young adults on a Friday and Saturday night
  • Acting as a health outreach service in the day
  • Acting as an educational facility
  • Assisting at Festival and events.

Key objectives of the brief

  • To rename SOS Buses. It needs to be memorable and not something that can imply anything rude or negative.
  • To create a logo that can act as part of the design of the bus.
  • To design the exterior of the bus. It is a Dennis Trident President MK 2. It will be a W reg or similar age and will have one set of doors.

Target Audience
Because of the type of product being designed, the target audience was quite vast. It targeted 20–70 year olds who live in Reading. Also, as it offered various functions, these would inevitable be aimed at different age ranges. For example, the bus would be available at Reading Festival, and many of those who attend are of the younger generation.


  • The logo should be produced as part of the design on the bus.
  • Reproduce well in colour and black and white.
  • be easy to print on logo-wear.
  • does not have to be self contained.
  • The bus should be in one colour. Livery can be added with no colour restrictions.
  • look original so that it is not confused with any
  • other buses in Reading.
  • not look corporate.
  • look distinctive and noticeable at night.
  • have tinted windows upstairs so that it could act as a ‘beacon’.

Design process
Initially, a name was needed to represent the bus and what it could offer. My suggestions were offered alongside their own and the client then took them to the panel of people involved in the whole process of creating the bus. They decided upon the name ‘FIRST  STOP’ bus. ‘FIRST’ was an acronym they developed which represented the main attributes of the bus which were First aid, Information, Refuge, Safety and Treatment.

Once a name had been decided, I then began to start the initial design. I felt that it would be useful to try to explain what the acronym meant on the bus. The best way I felt I could achieve this was through the use of pictograms. Generally pictograms are a great way to easily inform people about a concept or an action i.e. a fire exit sign. They also are able to be understood irrelevant of the language the user speaks. This was a key factor in the design of the pictograms. Reading is a very multicultural town, with several hundreds of languages spoken. As the pictograms generally represent medical help and guidance, the pictograms developed needed to be easily understood.


Possibilities of pictogram representation 

In regards to the design of each individual pictogram, i created a list of what immediately comes to mind when those words are seen. This was then tested out on other people around me. From this i gathered a general opinion about what each of the attributes meant to people.

First aid is usually represented with either a plus sign or a plus sign within a medical box. This seemed very recognisable. Information is usually represented with a overtly italicised ‘i’ sign. I realised that it wasn’t an issue of creating brand new pictograms that people would have to learn but instead it was the case of developing a set of pictograms that people mutual understand through past experiences and through symbolism in communication. Therefore i decided to take these  main ideas forward and develop them.

Refuge was a difficult concept to represent. Immediately, many people may think of a house. I felt that representing refuge as a house could be adapted. It could be implied that by representing it with a house, users may get confused between in what the bus offers. It does not offer housing, simply a refuge from danger. in this sense I wanted to take a more ‘human’ approach by developing a design which showed a man taking shelter under a hand which was in the shape of a roof. This went through a series of developments however the client felt it would be more easily understood if the pictogram was simple a house with a window and an open door.

One of the issues I had with the design of the pictograms was that ‘First aid’ and ‘treatment’ are very closely linked and therefore there could be issues with attempting to distinguish between them. As mentioned before, First Aid was designed very simply to show a medical box. In order to show treatment I tried several different concepts of representation. The first was to show two plasters layered on top of each other to form a cross. From the feedback I received from tutors it was felt that it was too similar to the cross of the first aid pictogram. I then developed a more detailed pictogram which showed a hand which had been injured but treated with butterfly stitches. Although it was more in line with what I wanted to suggest, the pictogram was far too detailed in comparison to the others. I remained true to the ‘human’ approach and created a pictogram which showed a foot having been treated with a plaster. This seemed like a reasonable solution to the issues faced.

After some discussion with the client, and tutors I felt the best way to represent safety was through the use of a shield. Initially the shield had a medical crest of it however this was to similar to the first aid pictogram and I then continued to develop a set of variation in shield design. The final design features the medical heart beat used on the exterior of the bus as a shield. This also encouraged the link of medical safety which although was not intend, worked well.

It is very important that pictograms which are frequently used together are uni-formal in their representation. It was difficult to represent the words uniformity because, as stated above, in order to differentiate, a certain level of detail may have needed to be made. A consistent stroke weight and colour scheme was applied. The pictograms were all self contained in a green octagon similar to that of a stop sign. This related them to the logo which also adopted a green octagon.

During the pictogram development, I also began to design the logo for the bus. I felt that ‘first stop’ should literally be represented as a first stop sign. In line with a medical aspect, I developed some logos that were similar to a heartbeat monitor with the green line showing the heartbeat. Although this design did not end up being used within the logo, it was adopted on the exterior of the bus to link the pictograms together. I also produced some logos which featured a stop sign to suggest importance. It was decided that the logo should remain simple, and therefore the final design was simply the text ‘first’ in bold green alongside ‘stop’ in white surrounded by a green octagon.


Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 05.49.12 Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 05.49.21Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 05.49.37 Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 05.49.45


I think the project was a very enlightening experience. As my first real job, I leant a lot in regards to pictogram design, uniformity, logo design and vehicle design, the latter of which was very interesting. One of the main issues I had to deal with was not having the correct digital resources for vehicle design. Having only been offered an A3 page with the exterior of the bus detailed through measurements, I found it difficult to truly represent my idea in the way I wanted to. If anything, this increased my skills in mocking up designs using Adobe Illustrator. Overall, i did enjoy the project, working with the client to produce a design that would assist the general public should they ever require medical assistance.


Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 05.50.21

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 05.50.06

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 05.49.58

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 05.50.28