Place branding experts Lantern create a unified brand for bodies protecting the Norfolk Coast

This new identity for the Norfolk coast by Lantern is a masterclass in place branding. We take a closer look at the London studio’s latest project.

Most of the work in branding is about either creating entirely new brands or refreshing existing ones. But that’s not all there is to it. One of the most intriguing challenges in branding is bringing together several discrete entities and making them sing as one. And that’s exactly what Lantern, a leading place brand consultancy, has been up to lately.

The London-based agency has been developing a comprehensive and sustainable brand strategy to protect the Norfolk Coast. Covering over 450 square kilometres, this area stretches from The Wash in the west through coastal marshes and cliffs to the dunes at Winterton in the east. It is recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (aka National Landscape).

However, with various stakeholders managing the destination and no single brand to define the region, communications had become cluttered, complex and confusing to the public.

Lantern was appointed to bring this myriad of organisations together under one brand – defining the destination and promoting their common goals to preserve, restore and enhance local life,
landscapes and wildlife on the Norfolk Coast.

With visitor numbers increasing year-on-year and environmental impact rising in tandem, the region needed a clear and compelling strategy and story to shepherd tourists and support locals. From nudging major behavioural changes, such as encouraging off-season exploration, to day-to-day messages designed to keep visitors on paths and dogs on leads, the brand needed to drive behaviour change in a positive, not preachy way.

Brief and research

The new, unifying place brand needed to meet five key criteria:

Unite multiple stakeholders under one consumer-facing brand
Promote responsible, sustainable exploration of the landscape
Capture the Norfolk Coast’s unique character
Drive behaviour change in way that’s positive, not preachy
Challenge the branding conventions of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to deliver a destination lifestyle brand.

Lantern’s team took a comprehensive approach involving immersing themselves in the Norfolk Coast. Team members hiked, cycled, and kayaked through the region to engage with tourists and locals alike through interviews, research, and surveys.

The outcome was a strategic positioning for the region and a visually and verbally redefined identity promoting responsible exploration.

Brand name and visual identity

The new name, “Norfolk Coast, Protected Landscape”, serves as a unifying symbol for stakeholders, while the brand essence, “Alive with nature,” reflects the dynamic and living landscape. The new brand aims to unite stakeholders, conveying the unique character of the Norfolk Coast visually and verbally.

The brand essence (“Alive with nature”) inspired both the verbal and visual components of the strategy. Verbally, behavioural nudges are poetically delivered, referencing the movements of a living entity. Visitors are advised to ‘Watch wildlife come alive when it’s given space to breathe’, ‘Find you’ll really escape if you follow the paths’ and ‘Discover winter provides the best kind of goosebumps’.

Logo and visual identity

A new logo, worthy of a lifestyle brand, brings together the N and C of the place name whilst being directly inspired by the sweeping landscapes of Norfolk’s coast and creeks.

Meanwhile, the wider design language ebbs and flows through the use of supergraphics, integrated typography and a colour palette lifted directly from the region. Stiffkey Green, Holkham Pine, Burnham Flint and Cromer Coral are some of the brand colours.

Through the interplay of type, image and illustrations, audiences are transported deep into the destination. To encourage responsible exploration, Lantern directed an off-season
photoshoot by Hollie Harmsworth through hail, sleet and snow, capturing the beauty of the region in winter and encouraging sustainable exploration throughout the year.

In addition, a playful and beautiful suite of custom illustrations by Benedikt Luft capture key wildlife and nature found in Norfolk, with a visual style that reflects the movement of the graphic system whilst moving the brand itself far beyond the clichés of the sector.

The branding is being rolled out over the coming weeks across a new website, social media assets and advertising. A range of Norfolk Coast merchandise will be sold to support the protection of this fragile landscape and position it as more than a location; it will be a lifestyle brand, too.

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