The brief

Help make National Trust holidays an attractive offer for UK and overseas holidaymakers.

Holidays brochure
Holidays brochure

Setting the scene

To help raise funds and give people a different perspective on the nation's heritage, the National Trust operates its own holidays offering. Predominately focussed on holiday cottages – a competitive marketplace with many operators – in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, they allow holiday makers to experience staying in a wide variety of properties in the knowledge that their payment goes directly back into looking after those special places.

As part of a strategy to improve market share and increase customers, there came a need to want to make Holidays distinctive, to give it a unique identity, a logo even.

The National Trust works hard to maintain its brand and stretch and adapt it where necessary. Its brand guidance is comprehensive, with ownership devolved among many but despite this it continues to be a model of success. However it can't afford to be split into unfamiliar sub-brands that may give people looking in a decidedly skewed view of what the organisation does and stands for.

A response to brief

Given the dilemma between the ask and the realities of the brand, our first task was critiquing the brief and discussing the options with the client. Through consultation with brand specialists and account management we quickly reached agreement about how to proceed. Rather than go off-piste and create a new sub-brand, we would develop a look and feel that was a treatment of existing visual identity elements and complement that with a way of framing marketing, messaging and content that would be unique to the holidays offer.

In the original response to brief we explained our first thoughts about holidays: they're about experiences; the moments that left an impression; the people that transformed you; the places that transported you; the stories that inspire you to go again.

These axioms helped set up the following pages which got to the heart of the matter "...that special places matter and bring benefit to us all", that "rather than a separate sub-brand, offering holidays in historic buildings set in unique surroundings is an important spoke of our overall brand..." and lastly, that "the communications around holidays should be clear, consistent and, most importantly, reflective of the brand and what its audiences love."

Guidance pages
Pages from the Holidays guidance explaining how the lock-up can be used

With the context and purpose clearly set in the response to brief, along with concepts, it allowed the client presentation to go smoothly and made sure all sides were in agreement about what we were setting out to do.

The chosen concept was what we called the 'swatch' at the time. This approach would enable the stand out the client was looking for, both internally and externally, help focus the message being put across and give enough flexibility to other designers to work with when producing Holidays materials.

The device itself was a shape taken from the National Trust's visual identity and works as part of a lock-up with text to define the Holidays message. The National Trust brand would still lead – all the usual rules for placement of logo, tone of voice still applied – but Holidays would be distinctive from other communications in its use of this lock-up and how it talked about what it offered.

Guidance pages
Further lock-up guidance including bilingual versions

Various marketing materials were initially created to support the launch and bring to life new look and feel. Brochures, direct mail items, digital display, feedback forms – all the elementary parts that help a business operate and attract customers. The well-crafted booklet seen in the image at the top of this article is one example that helped make a striking impression of the new Holidays look and feel.

A few months after launch, we created detailed guidance that would give structure to how the Holidays look and feel should be used and interpreted. This meant that consistency could be created without the need to monitor everything that was created by the team. This document complemented with broader brand guidance would enable anyone working on Holidays material to successfully implement the appropriate tone of voice and visual approach, increasing the chances of success for new business.