Case Study

Transurban, Express Lanes

The 495 and 95 Express Lanes help make getting around the Washington, D.C. metro an easier and more predictable driving experience. While the Express Lanes is all about keeping customers’ wheels turning, the brand started to hit some speed bumps. The Express Lanes needed to differentiate its brand to help customers understand the different operators for the roads in the area. This was accomplished through a complete overhaul of its brand experience — visual identity, tone of voice, communications, digital strategies, and more.

Bates Creative worked hand-in-hand with Transurban to launch the new Express Lanes brand identity to the public with an integrated customer experience. From a reimagined website, to fresh marketing collateral, to a launch campaign, Bates Creative was entrusted to communicate the new Express Lanes brand across all channels.


  • Digital Discovery and Strategy
  • Website Design and Development
  • Content Strategy
  • Copywriting
  • Campaign Strategy and Execution
A Refreshingly Uncomplicated Brand Identity

Transurban came to Bates Creative with the new Express Lanes look and feel, but needed the strategy and creative execution to launch it across all of its channels. The brand’s visual transformation swapped a dated logo design for bright pop colors with illustration-driven accents. The new logo uses a cursive swoop to connect the “e” and “x” in Express Lanes. This playful interpretation of the brand’s name visually symbolizes the brand’s purpose: getting drivers from point A to point B with ease.

The approachable appeal of the design had also been translated into the Express Lanes new brand voice. It needed to cut out complication for customers by using simpler words, straight-to-the-point messages, and a touch of intelligent wit to help the brand sound more relatable.

Bates Creative was presented these branded assets to design, develop, and write a new Express Lanes website complete with a variety of creative services.

Website Discovery and Research

Bates Creative kicked off the website redesign by getting to know the ins and outs of the Express Lanes’ existing digital presence through rounds of research. The team needed to understand how users navigate the website and what their top actions are before improving its user experience.

As it was, 495 and 95 Express Lanes information lived under a standalone Express Lanes domain while information about the 395 Express Lanes project lived on a separate website. Bates Creative was tasked with seamlessly merging the two websites into one unified and streamlined website experience.

The team conducted a content audit to inform how content from both websites should come together into one cohesive site. Bates Creative segmented the content into three primary buckets based on its research findings: transactional, messaging-focused, and informational. Site analytics showed that approximately 50 percent of total annual page views were coming from transactional pages. This research confirmed that transactional pages were a top priority for the new website, which needed to provide a simple and intuitive process for customers to pay invoices and missed toll trips with ease. In addition the site needed to provide a clear user experience for customers who were looking for other types of information including how to use the Lanes and details about E-ZPass®.

Using these insights, Bates Creative developed a refreshed IA to serve as the backbone of the new website. In addition, Drupal was selected as the website’s new content management system. Drupal is a popular open-source CMS that is better-suited for more robust websites focused on scalability, flexibility, and customization.

A New Voice for a Re-energized Brand

Bates Creative focused on a “less is more” content approach while copywriting the new website. The goal was to deliver the website’s target audiences the information they needed as quickly as possible.

A unique content element that was born from the new Brand Voice Guide was the Express Version. This element is the brand’s way of delivering quick-hit information to customers. The Express Version offers a quick snapshot of bulleted information at the beginning of communication pieces. Bates Creative leveraged an Express Version call-out box onto select webpages with layers of content to bring the most important elements to the top of the page.

Website Design & Development

As Bates Creative built out the new design for the website, the team conducted multiple usability tests to ensure that the new content, design, and structure were hitting the mark. To make this website successful, it had to be visually appealing, well-organized, and easy to navigate.

Bates Creative optimized the new website with a mobile-first approach because of its visitors’ on-the-go nature. Overall, the design offers more breathing room for both art and text — a refreshing departure from the former website’s oversaturation of content.

Research revealed that most website visitors take three primary actions on the website: make payments, learn about the Lanes, and learn about E-ZPass®. In addition to the re-structured primary and utility navigation menus, Bates Creative created three task-oriented icons on the homepage to streamline these popular actions visitors take when browsing the website.

The content’s stylized hierarchical distinction presents an intuitive way for visitors to navigate the website. For pages with layers of information, Bates Creative employed content tabs for readers to navigate through. This strategy also offers the Express Lanes team the flexibility to add new tabs to the page without creating an overwhelming environment of content.

The new Express Lanes website enables Transurban to add new project-based information as they arise to continue efforts to make the digital experience exceptional. Currently, teams are working to integrate 395 Express Lanes information into the new website. Since the website launched at the end of 2018, it has proved to decrease the average bounce rate by about 4% and the number of sessions per user has increased incrementally month-to-month by an average of 7%. The biggest takeaway is the number of returning visitors has increased over time, while the number of pages per session has decreased, which proves that users are navigating to the content they need to find more quickly and efficiently.

(Ex)pect Better Campaign

In addition to the website redesign, Bates Creative worked with the Transurban team to promote the launch of its new Express Lanes brand identity and website through an integrated awareness campaign. The goal was to raise awareness around the new website that was carefully created with customers’ convenience in mind. Digital display ads, homepage banners, email marketing, radio ads, and social media promotions were all wrapped into the “Expect Better” launch campaign.

The “Expect Better” campaign builds excitement around a better brand experience waiting for drivers in the digital space. The campaign strongly resembled the new look, feel, and sound of the Express Lanes brand, a strategic decision designed to begin building brand recognition among its target audiences.

To tease the launch of the new site, the “Expect Better” campaign debuted as a homepage carousel banner on the former Express Lanes website. Additionally, Bates Creative crafted playful gifs to drum up social media buzz to promote the website launch. The assets mirror the brand’s new playful, simple, and colorful illustration-driven designs.

Bates Creative directed radio spots that played on iHeartradio networks to reach Express Lanes drivers in their cars during peak commute times. Each spot featured exasperated drivers who were missing an important event because of bad traffic. The radio ads highlighted: “for the things you can’t miss, expect better from your travels,” to provide a solution to the traveling challenge.

From uncovering insights to strategically reimagining a new brand identity in the digital space and launching the new brand experience to the public, Bates Creative illustrated what the Express Lanes offers: an easy driving experience that helps people spend less time on the road, and more time where it matters.

Launch Email
32.6% Open Rate
22% Click Rate

The Bates Creative team had quite a challenge to tackle with the Express Lanes website overhaul. The site was not only content heavy, but there is also a very important and somewhat complicated API integration that is critical to our payment process. There were a lot of teams involved to get this website up and running and we were all able to work through the challenges to create a wonderful site. The Bates team did a great job at bringing our refreshed brand look and feel and tone of voice to life, introducing a more modern, simple brand to customers and greater Washington area drivers. Learning and understanding our business can be challenging in itself, but the team got up to speed and delivered a great site that is more engaging and provides a better customer experience.

Elisa Bell, Customer Experience Director, North America