Oyster card

The OYSTER CARD name was devised and recommended by Andrew McCrum working as Blue Sky Enterprise in association with Saatchi and Saatchi design. S & S were brought in by Transys on behalf of Transport for London to find a new name for their revolutionary transport smart card.

The brief was to find a name that best embodied the brand criteria of travel, stored currency, security, modernity and a London theme. OYSTER was conceived, mainly, because of the metaphorical implications of security and value in the hard bivalve shell and the concealed pearl. Its associations with London through Thames estuary oyster beds and  the major relevance of the popular idiom ‘the world is your oyster’ were also significant factors in its selection. 

The phonetic uniqueness of the word OYSTER and its solid metaphorical meaning also played a large part in its selection and made it a highly memorable name. Its relative sophistication made it desirable both for London residents and the many tourists and visitors. A contextual factor was the existence of the Hong Kong Octopus, relevant in a different way to travel but using a similar creative metaphor.

The metaphor itself allowed for a series of clever graphical interpretations: most notably where the concentric rings of the bivalve shells are turned into the target for the contact point of card with the electronic reader; the same curve as a single line mirrors that of the Thames’s curvaceous route; the blue of the Thames is the OYSTER card’s dominant design colour and the OYSTER’s versatile circularity is also cleverly used in the Oyster.tfl.gov.uk website as a go button, an underground symbol reference and the lens of a magnifying glass.

The Barclaycard ONEPULSE was also a product of the OYSTER brand concept deriving from Pulse, one of the shortlisted names for the OYSTER brand concept. ONEPULSE works as an OYSTER on your credit card.