Gus Bus undergoes redesign to increase recognition


by Morgan Vuknic, Creative Services Student Writer

Gus Bus Redesign

The Gus Bus, part of JMU’s Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services (IIHHS), tours the local community with a mission of promoting literacy to children. The program offers neighborhood stops, after-school lessons, in-home teaching and summer camps with the goal of strengthening students’ literacy skills, developing their creativity and helping them pass Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOL) exams.  

The Gus Bus also supports the families of the students involved in the program. Through a partnership with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and Skyline Literacy, the Gus Bus is able to bring fresh food to neighborhood stops and offer adult literacy classes to family members of students.   

While the Gus Bus offers many services to Harrisonburg children and families, the most visible part of the program is the bus itself. Since the early 2000’s, the bus has been recognizable with its logo of a bunny sitting on a stack of books. In 2022, the bus underwent a redesign to address the program’s broader focus. 

When starting the process of thinking about how to go about the redesign in 2018, communications and program manager Dana Lehman said the first step was to create a fresh logo. Once the Gus Bus had an updated logo, Lehman said it was time to approach CHBS’ Creative Services about wrapping the buses.

The design for the bus was created by CHBS’ Creative Services graphic designer, Josh See. The new design features imagery of the Gus Bus driving past popular Harrisonburg landmarks such as Wilson Hall and the Explore More Discovery Museum.

See said the inspiration for the new design came from the Gus Bus website. For years the header of the website has featured a cartoon of the bus driving around Harrisonburg which See took inspiration from when designing the new wrap for the bus.  

For the Gus Bus, Lehman said this rebranding is an opportunity to make the program more noticeable throughout Harrisonburg and to show how the Gus Bus collaborates with the local community. He said he hopes that the design will help students to be more excited about coming on the bus and engaging with the services the program offers.  

“The new design is a way to represent the community that we serve,” Lehman said. “We hope that the new design will be more attention grabbing and that it will spark curiosity in our students which may lead to increased program attendance.”

Currently, there are two buses in rotation; one of them has already been wrapped with a new design and the other is scheduled to be wrapped at the end of this year. With one bus already out in the community, See said people have been appreciative of the new design.

“A lot of people have said it makes them smile,” See said. “When I sent in the draft before anyone had seen anything, that was the reaction I got from everyone, ‘it just makes me smile’ which is really great to hear.”  

Along with positive reactions from the staff, Lehman said the community has been pleased with the new design as well. 

“I’m really excited about [the design],” Lehman said. “We’ve already seen with the one bus that’s been wrapped that the new design gets a lot of attention. Students are excited about it; parents comment on it; and it’s really great to have an attractive and fresh design on the bus.” 

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Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Last Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2024

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