Dutch graphic design agency Studio Dumbar has created a new logo for the Netherlands as part of the country’s new wider branding. As well as the agency’s logomark, the move sees the Netherlands dropping ‘Holland’ completely from all future communications and products.
The logo is how the country will be recognised internationally from now on, and because of this was designed with an array of stakeholders in mind from the tech industry to agriculture, the education sector to the creative industries and more, so the brief was to keep it as simple as possible.
The wordmark combines the country acronym, NL and the tulip, the national flower. “The tulip is the most famous symbol of the Netherlands,” says Tom Dorresteijn, strategy director at Studio Dumbar. “But we wanted to steer clear of an obvious literal tulip as the symbol is too much connected to tourism and souvenirs.” Instead the team created a subtle silhouette of tulip petals between the N and the L letterforms.
The logo has kept the previous design’s orange colour, which is typically associated with the country’s royal family, House of Orange. “Creatively the colour orange was given fact of course,” says Dorresteijn. “But it would be hard to develop an identity for the Netherlands that is based on any other colour. Orange feels like ‘our’ colour, we are emotionally connected to it and it is internationally recognised.”
The typeface used in ‘the Netherlands’ element of the logo is Nitti Grotesk, designed by the Dutch type foundry Bold Monday. “This idiosyncratic typeface has warmth and humanity. The long ascenders give this font its particular character, which works really well with the logo,” explains Dorresteijn. “For us [the logo] expresses simplicity, smartness and clarity,” he adds, and will be in use from January (in eight possible language variations).
The logo sits as part of a wider identity project the Dutch government has been working on for the past year and a half. Collaborating with the Netherlands’ major cities and representatives, the new identity aims to “enhance our international image in the face of growing international competition for attention.”
According to Dorresteijn, “this is not going to be one big rebranding” but rather a step-by-step introduction to the nation. On 1 January 2020, a dedicated NL Brand website will go online, and provide direction on how the visual identity will be used by the central government and other stakeholders.
Of course, the Netherlands isn’t the first country to rebrand or launch a new logo in a bid to reposition itself on the world’s stage. In a more design-savvy world, visual identity, imagery and even tone of voice can have a huge impact on people’s perceptions of a place and the Netherlands is just one of many nations hoping to present a more cohesive impression of itself.