“Alive with nature”: Lantern’s identity for Norfolk Coast Protected Landscape

Norfolk Coast Protected Landscape’s logo draws inspiration from meandering creaks and “the crest of a wave” while its messaging favours “poetic” encouragement over “preaching”.

Place branding studio Lantern has designed the identity for Norfolk Coast Protected Landscape, encouraging responsible tourism in the region through poetic headlines and nature-inspired graphics.

The studio was approached by Norfolk Coast Partnership – the direct client – to submit a tender in Spring 2022. Norfolk Coast Partnership manages and is responsible for the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), but the project was also partly funded by Norfolk County Council and the EU’s Regional Development Fund.

Lantern director Ryan Tym says the studio was keen to work on an area with such a “rich narrative” and describes it as a tourist destination with “a lot of challenges”. These challenges include coastal erosion and heavy and uncontrolled tourism. The latter can lead to soil erosion, increased pollution, discharges into the sea, natural habitat loss and increased pressure on endangered species, according to The Global Development Research Centre.

The new brand is a culmination of a few organisations and areas, including Norfolk’s two AONB’s, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserves, Marine Conservation Zones, a Biosphere Reserve and a Heritage Coast area. The name Norfolk Coast Protected Landscape aims to provide greater clarity and give equal footing to all the organisations, which ultimately share the same goals, according to Tym.

The brand icon combines an N and a C and was designed to reflect the landscapes, with refinements carried out by typographer and lettering artists Alec Tear. While earlier iterations showed the C more clearly, Tym says the studio opted for a version where the C was “more subtle”, so the mark can be interpreted as a meandering creek or “the crest of a wave”.

He describes how the edges of the icon look as if they’re “ebbing and flowing” with both rounded and sharp points. The NC is also used as a super graphic and framing device across the identity.

Norfolk Coast Protected Landscape’s logotype is a modified version of Recoleta, which was designed by Jorge Cisterna and published by Latinotype. Lantern “tweaked some of the letter terminals” so the logotype mirrored qualities of the logomark, says Tym.

In a bid to move away from “functional icons” often seen on coastal signage, Lantern designed characterful icons in collaboration with Frankfurt-based illustrator Benedikt Luft that share the same sharp and rounded style as the logo, explains Tym. He says Luft was able to incorporate “a level of detail that feels really crafted”, resulting in illustrations more reminiscent of a lifestyle brand or the “nostalgic, cool feel” of national parks that you might see in the US.

In line with this idea, merchandise will be produced using the brand assets.

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A key goal for Lantern was creating a brand that would encourage people to “treat the area with respect and explore it in a more responsible, sustainable way”, says Tym, without leaning on a “respect, protect mantra” that risks coming across as “preaching”.

Surveys and research trips revealed that local people, tourists and historical accounts considered Norfolk to have a “living landscape” and often personified it, according to Tym, which is where the idea for the hero strapline – “Alive with nature” – came from.

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Other “poetic” headlines like “watch wildlife come alive when its given space to breath” and “you’ll really escape if you follow the paths” are used in in place of “blunt” signs with phrases like “don’t go near the seals”, Tym explains.

He adds that messaging like “out of season is always in season” was developed to spread tourism and footfall across the year. Off-season photography also promotes the region’s beauty outside of summer.

Lantern was conscious of not focusing too much on the word “sustainability” as it has become overused, says Tym, so it devised headlines like “buy real local produce by real local people” and “a place that’s home to tidal creeks and history geeks”.

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