Wolff Olins refreshes the New York Botanical Garden branding

The new identity features typography and a colour palette inspired by the breadth of plants, trees, fungi, and algae that can be found at the 132-year-old botanical garden, based in the Bronx

Central to the approach that Wolff Olins took in creating the new branding is a statement of intent: ‘Do right by nature’. This core idea aims to reflect the NYBG’s role as an institution that studies and protects nature, but also where visitors can learn from it and enjoy it.

“We wanted to capture what people already know about this beloved institution – being an incredible place of natural beauty – but also a place of science, research, horticultural advancements, preservation, education, advocacy, art, and outreach to the surrounding Bronx community,” explains Jane Boynton, senior creative director at Wolff Olins.

The team at Wolff Olins worked closely with the horticulturalists, administrators, and educators at NYBG, spending time at the grounds, labs, libraries, Herbarium, and greenhouses, as well as doing volunteer gardening. The aim was to create a “truly usable identity” with “tools to take them forward through operational and functional shifts” and also serve the garden’s local community as well as give it a “greater relevance on a global scale, opening the way for exciting new partnerships and collaborations”.

A new hand-drawn logo has been created which focuses on the NYBG abbreviation and references forms found in nature. This, plus a new tone of voice for the brand, exude confidence and aim to reflect the attitude of New York and the Bronx.

A photography style has been developed which is “based on the idea of seeing from nature’s perspective” and Wolff Olins has also created a graphic language drawn from the forms of the garden from a bird’s eye view. This results in unique organic shapes that can be cropped, extracted, or layered over a grid, which is in turn inspired by the glass panes of the iconic Enid A Haupt Conservatory.

These elements, combined with a rich and varied colour palette, come together to form an identity which avoids many of the clichés we tend to see in branding for nature institutions.

The overall intention is to create a sense of optimism about the natural world, despite global concerns about climate change. “Our new brand identity is a signal to the world that NYBG is fully engaged in working to address the dual climate and biodiversity crises while we continue to provide moments of joy, respite, and wonder to visitors and learners across our garden grounds and community garden sites in the Bronx,” says Jennifer Bernstein, CEO and the William C Steere Sr President at NYBG.

“Our new brand is meant to inspire people to take action and to help nature thrive so that humanity can thrive. At NYBG, we believe in our ability to make things better and are excited for our optimistic new brand to engage the public more holistically in our institution’s work across our borough and around the globe.”