Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty rebrands as National Landscapes

Representing some of the UK’s most beautiful landscapes, the nature organisation was due a brand update to improve visibility and accessibility – starting with a simplified name

Traditionally, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are designated parts of the British countryside that are under conservation due to their significant landscape value. Totalling 39, these areas are found throughout the entire country, and are visited by millions of people every year. However, a recent survey carried out by the organisation showed that public awareness of them was below 50%.

London-based creative agency Nice and Serious was brought in to steer a full rebrand of AONBs that would spark engagement and help them to better serve their communities. This began with simplifying the name to National Landscapes, along with a new visual identity for the organisation that stresses the importance of these natural areas.

The team at Nice and Serious also wanted to unite all of the 39 areas, and as such, developed a consistent narrative and visual system that could tie them together. Throughout the visual system, these areas and the people that occupy them are woven into a “living patchwork”, symbolising their interconnectedness.

“The idea of the living patchwork came to underpin the visual design system,” explains Nice and Serious creative director Peter Larkin. “Where each square is as unique as the next – filled with endless patterns of people and place. Up close, these individual patches represent one part of the landscape’s story, but step back and they thread together to form our nation’s fabric. One that’s vibrant, and full of life.”

Across the identity, Nice and Serious has employed an “imperfect” style of illustration, nodding to the imperfections found in each of these stunning landscapes. This illustrative style is used for simple emblems representing the 39 areas, with colours for the emblems having been decided upon by the respective National Landscape teams, who chose shades that felt most symbolic of their local area.

Accessibility and inclusivity were an important consideration during the design process and informed the typeface used for the identity. The main one, Effra, was selected for its “contemporary, humanist aesthetic but also its open characters, distinguishable letter forms and lack of ‘mirroring’ – all which help it be more legible for people with dyslexia,” Larkin says.

The team also developed a tone of voice that speaks to traditionally underserved communities, guided by the idea of finding common ground and ensuring everyone feels seen and heard.

Ruth Colbridge, communications and advocacy manager at National Landscapes Association, explains that the tone of voice will also allow its “family of organisations to speak with a much more united voice, really showing our strength and impact as a network”.