Signage

Graphic designer Andy Tuohy on redesigning Leafy Fields Glamping’s logo and signage.

Sign on a wallThe starting point for any design or redesign is consultation with the client. I talk with them about what they are trying to achieve by commissioning me then take a look at their offer with no preconceptions. This way I can see where the gaps might be in terms of their communication through design.

With Leafy Fields Glamping, the starting point was a realisation that the brand needed an update. We were already in dialogue as my family and I have been visitors in the past. Owner Dani had done a great job with the original logo but she isn’t a designer and needed help to pull things together for other elements including signage across the site. Often businesses reach the point where to help them develop and grow they need a professional design consultancy.

The brief
It is key to understand the client’s business. This seems obvious but it is too easy to get carried away and fall in love with attractive designs to the point that what is needed isn’t being delivered. Design is about effective problem solving.

The client should be able to give an overview of what they need, and in this instance Dani and her husband Andrew wanted professional signage and a map that didn’t veer too far off the look and feel they had already established. It should be fun, ‘animally’, family-friendly, safe and accessible. The previous signs had been laminated photocopies and inconsistently designed. The signs for the tents were also in places that would not be immediately visible if driving onto the site for the first time.

Part of understanding the client’s business is knowing who their customers are and whether they’re trying to attract a new market or build on an established client base. In the case of Leafy Fields, families of autistic children are the primary market.

At the start of any brief we ask questions and see for ourselves if these are born out in the design we’re being asked to look at (if a redesign) or need to incorporate if it’s a brand new design – how did the business start, what are the historical touch points and values of the brand? We knew Leafy Fields as customers so had a ‘feel’ for the site and brand values already. Dani and Andrew were very clear on the elements we needed to use for accessibility so that was the starting point – clarity

It is also important to look at the client’s competitors. There are many excellent glamping sites in Devon but none with the focus on families with disabilities, so that sets Leafy Fields apart.

Sign on a poster The result
The challenge was to ensure that the original feel of the brand wasn’t lost in any way and built on subtly so that it was still totally recognisable. For the logo, we decided to simply tighten the design up with a similar but more sophisticated typeface that could be used throughout the site’s branding and a cleaner, simpler image of the fox head.

The next stage was to create more consistency and uniformity within the on-site signage telling glampers about the animals and wildlife to be found. One of the key features, to make signs more accessible for all guests, was the inclusion of British Sign Language and using a pale yellow background, which is easier to read for those with dyslexia. It was fun to have pictures of Dani and Andrew’s children signing for all the animal signs which added to the child friendly, informal family feel of the site.

The last pieces in the jigsaw were signs for each lodge: Fox; Badger; Crivens (Dani and Andrew are big fans of Terry Pratchett); and the bell tent Clover. They provide a great focal point for the accommodation and clear wayfinding when entering the site for the first time. The symbols used for each lodge are also used to identify the various accommodation options when browsing and booking online. These illustrations are extremely useful for social media as they provide something that looks fun and engaging when families take photos and post about their experience. They offer another way to generate interest and engagement beyond the site itself.

The artwork was printed on an aluminium composite material, which is hard wearing and a good medium for bright, clean signage. Signs were positioned in front of each lodge and on the front gate. The map is being used online and in bookings packs.

Budget
How much to budget for design is a tricky question as it totally depends on the extent of the brief, the amount of amendments and the time taken to complete the work. I would advise any company to think carefully about what they want to get out of the piece of work and what that could be worth to them in terms of brand value, potential for PR, online content generation, improving their customer experience to ensure repeat business, wayfinding around a site and general customer satisfaction. We always try to give the best value for money to our clients and often small jobs can be worth much more than that in the long run for a small business.

Sign outside glamping accommodation


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andy is a designer and illustrator widely commissioned by institutions, publishers, festivals and museums from around the world including Tate Enterprises, Royal Shakespeare Company, Penguin US, Royal Mail Stamps and the British Film Institute. Andy has three illustrated books on film, writers and art on the Octopus Publishing imprint. Visitors to Tate Liverpool may be familiar with Andy’s A-Z of Liverpool and Merseyside, a labour of love for Andy who studied graphic design in the city in the 1980s.

Andy has his own studio on the south coast which he runs with his wife Olivia. www.andytuohy.co.uk / hello@andytuohy.co.uk / 01303 261386.

About Leafy Fields Glamping
Leafy Fields Glamping is an autism friendly glamping site near the Blackdown Hills in Devon. It won gold in the Visit Devon 2020 tourism awards.

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