Norfolk County Council hired us to design an identity for Burlingham Woodland Walks, one to better reflect the natural beauty of the attraction. This new identity would then be followed with corresponding signage, guidebooks, photography and maps.
It didn’t seem appropriate to brief this to the team without detailed investigation on our part. While the clients, Dr Gerry Barnes (environmental manager) and Andy Williams (countryside officer), were both extremely helpful in supplying us with comprehensive information, we felt it essential to experience Burlingham ourselves.
This involved a map, hiking boots, a packed lunch, thermals (it was January), a camera, and a notebook. 10 miles and a lot of fresh air later, our sedentary studio lifestyle was beginning to take its toll. Careful research is central to our approach to any project, however challenging it may be, physically or otherwise.
Ideas are important to us, no matter the job. We were looking for that little something to give us the edge, an idea that would lead us to an effective and engaging identity.
The audience for this project encompassed a broad age range and a wide variety of outdoor leisure pursuits, including families of Sunday strollers, energetic ramblers, and retired dog walkers. Clearly it would be crucial for the identity to communicate with each one of these diverse groups.
This project could not be further from the world of corporations and commerce. In fact, in many ways, we felt that the application of a logo could be dangerous ground in itself — ‘How dare they brand the countryside?’
The successful idea was born from our endeavour to visually combine ‘woodland’ and ‘walks’. A simple, almost obvious idea now that it is possible to consider the project in retrospect. Having reached an effective solution for the logo, we strived to bring it to life even more so in application.
Initial stocks of the newly-designed guidebooks were intended to last at least a year but ran out after just one month. This may have been due to the fact that its predecessor, a modest monochrome leaflet, was the illicit lovechild of Times New Roman, a Xerox machine and some illustrations that looked as if they had once been carved into a cave wall.
The new guidebook worked much harder to please the needs of the visitors. An engaging identity that raised a knowing smile, generous use of beautifully simple yet confident imagery, and easy to read digestible information to accompany the walks was certainly a step in the right direction.
The redesigned map made it far easier to navigate the different walks, listed points of interest en route, and advised where best to park or find public transport.
We commissioned the majority of the photography used in the brochure, only resorting to stock library images for wildlife shots. Neither time, budget or patience levels would allow for us to lie in wait for a barn owl to swoop by. Similarly, some species of flora were not in bloom during the project.
We briefed the photographer to capture both the maturity of the woodland and to represent the new plantations so important to sustaining the walks for future generations.
Colour was very important to the design. We wanted a strong consistency of tones throughout the booklet, taking in earthy browns, a vast range of greens and yellows, and topped by ever-changing cloud formations against a realistic, not tropical, blue sky.
The signage was perhaps the easiest application of the logo during the project. It was clear from the outset that catching the eye of passers by with backlighting or gaudy materials was not an option. It had to be modest and sympathetic to it’s environment, so the choice of wood was a given. By selecting a hardwood and laser etching the logo onto this surface, we were able to produce signage that, whilst durable, would age when exposed to the elements.
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