Designing the Visual Identity of the Whoosh High-Speed Rail

At the officiation of the Whoosh high-speed rail on Monday, October 2, 2023, President Joko Widodo announced to the public that Visious Studio’s work had been selected in the running for the new branding for the KCJB or the Kereta Cepat Jakarta-Bandung (English: Jakarta-Bandung Fast Train). The judges panel headed by Triawan Munaf had undergone the selection process since July, 2023.

The branding and visual identity design process for Indonesia’s first high-speed rail (HSR) was a long journey. The limited competition’s direction team, which includes the State Secretary Minister Pratikno, Minister of SOEs Erick Thohir, and Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi had previously invited 10 design studios who were members of the Association of Indonesian Graphic Designers (ADGI) to get involved in the new branding development process.

From the first stage of the branding idea and identity concept presentation, 18 possible names for the HSR became a point of discussion for the panel of judges, the government, and the representative of the HSR operators, PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (English: Indonesia China Fast Train). From that discussion, it was decided that the brand name “Whoosh” would be used as it represented the zooming noise of the train passing by. Furthermore, Whoosh also acts as an acronym standing for “Waktu Hemat. Operasi Optimal. Sistem Hebat,” (English: Time-Efficient. Optimal Operations. Incredible System.) which has become the philosophical foundation of the HSR.

From the initial 10 candidates, three finalists were chosen and their work could be seen by the public on the official KCIC website. The three branding candidates include Visious Studio, Ou Creative, and Feat Studio. Each studio put forward a different narrative. Feat Studio emphasized a perspective system that impressed upon speed. Ou Creative used the bambu runcing (sharpened bamboo spears heavily associated with the struggle for Indonesian independence) as an element representing the sound aspects as well as symbolizing unity. Meanwhile, Visious Studio used the letter W as a logogram that symbolizes the effect of the fast train zooming by.

The high enthusiasm of the public in regards to the three proposed designs reflects the transparency, fairness, and congruence with the ethical code of the design profession and industry of this limited competition. In this context, positive views and critiques from the public were integrated by the panel of judges to perfect the final design.

One fairly common response from the public online regards the HSR brand’s name of “Whoosh”, which can sound rather foreign, especially in the transportation industry of the nation. Responding to that, ADGI Chairman Ritchie Ned Hansel stated, “Brands can have different DNAs and each has its own way to get close to the many corners of society.”


For Ritchie, this very freedom of the public to appreciate the various brand strategies is what enriches the design industry. “The selection of the name ‘Whoosh’ can also be an indicator that Indonesia is ready to become part of global development where all cultures can amalgamate together to create a new, more variative culture without abandoning our locality,” he continued.

Visious Studio underwent intense research specifically for the creation of the Whoosh brand. From the meaning and interpretation of the brand, putting together a new brand strategy, to the construction of the concept and design direction. They engaged in a multi-professional collaboration with various parties including Harsya Wahono, a sound engineering expert who played a role in the development of the sonic branding, and Bandung-based Kiwari Studio, who contributed to the distinct typography design needed in the communications of this HSR’s branding.

Since the early brief, Visious Studio conducted deep research into the history of railways in Indonesia to understand the impact generated by this mode of transportation with each of its different speeds over the years. As written by the Visious team when interviewed, “Studying the history helped us design a brand strategy that can support the potential impact of a new age that is soon to come, in an optimal and wholehearted way through the visual identity branding of the HSR.”

Aside from studying the history of the nation's railways, Visious Studio undertook a case study regarding the various aspects of HSRs in other countries to design the concept and narrative of the visual identity collaterals. It is important to remember that the branding strategy designed in the early stages forms the foundation of the execution of the visual identity to its completion.

The holding of this limited competition indicates the government’s resolve in reaching the vision and mission of Golden Indonesia 2045. Triawan Munaf, the head of the Tim Panel Sayembara Identitas Jenama Kereta Api Cepat Indonesia (English: Judges Panel of the Indonesia Fast Train Identity Branding Limited Competition), stated that applying branding has become a need for all programs or products introduced, whether it be by a government agency or entirely non-governmental. A few examples include the design of logos for the Indonesian independence day anniversary, the Asian Games event, as well as the Nusantara Capital City (IKN) project.

Ritchie positively regards the initiative of the government or government agencies that are catching on to the importance of a visual identity. “The government has ideally built this visual identity with the involvement of the association which has helped the industry to introduce a good and ethical design process to the public, and hopefully of course to various other ministries and institutions as well,” he said.

In regards to the Whoosh high-speed train itself, Ritchie expressed his hope that said HSR’s operators can maintain the consistency of the designed brand guidelines, so that the public could be educated on how a brand can be consistently introduced, familiarized, and finally be accepted and even supported by all layers of society, by both those for and against the branding in its initial stages.

About the Author

Ibrahim Soetomo

Ibrahim Soetomo is a writer and art manager. His written work encompasses art reviews and research, editorials, and self-published works. Writing in both Indonesian and English, Ibrahim strives to write concisely and accessibly without neglecting its fundamentals of beauty. Ibrahim writes reviews on contemporary art and artists in Indonesia.