National Institute of Medical Herbalists overhauls for “natural authority”

The UK’s largest and oldest regulator of herbal practitioners has a new visual identity, including a modular icon, physical materials and website design.

The National Institute of Medical Herbalists has been given a new visual identity by Buddy Creative, including an icon, branded print materials, as well as a new website.

Mark Girvan, creative partner at the Exeter-based studio, tells Design Week that the branding aims to give the institute more “authority”. “We wanted to reflect the natural side of what they do in an authoritative manner,” he adds.

The identity also had to reflect the current membership body, as well as attract new herbalists and clients.

Herbalism is the practice of the medicinal and therapeutic use of plants. Established in 1864, the institute liaises with the Department of Health, regulatory bodies and policy makers to “ensure [its] voice is hear where it matters”. It also runs national PR campaigns to “promote the benefits of herbal medicine”. Potential members must have degree level qualifications or equivalent training.


“Natural authority”

The research process involved looking through the organisation’s resources, including documents, old books and botanical illustrations. In the end, it was the crest that inspired the new identity and “essense”: ‘The Power of Nature’. Part of the studio’s initial brief was also to redraw the crest, which had “naïve” styling.

The studio focused on the white rose from the 150-year-old crest, which represents the “whole-body holistic process that herbalists take when treating their patients”. The updated design itself is more minimal than the original flower and can be stretched out in a “continuous” way for the identity.

Postcards from the new identity

The flower motif – with its extendable lines – runs through the entire visual identity, across website photography and printed material. The line “draws you through the pages” of the website, Girvan says, as a “subtle detail” which underpins the identity.

“We always strive to make a brand more than just a logo,” he adds. “We want to bring it to life in the minds of the audience.”


Design details

Dark green has been chosen for the primary colour, because of its reference to nature. A secondary colour palette has been used on materials such as business cards , tote bags, T-shirts and stickers.

This “bold” addition is also inspired by nature, Girvan says. An orange, yellow and blue come into play with the overarching green. On the business cards, dark green is used for members of the institution.

In the three postcard designs, a “lot of colour comes through from the photography”, the designer adds.

There is packaging design in the new identity too. A white prescription bag has been designed with the copy: “LEAVES + FLOWERS + ROOTS = MEDICINE”. It also features the stretched version of the flower motif.

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