Cumbrian design studio crafts ambitious new identity for Scottish nature reserve

Graphic design isn't just for companies, products and individuals. Nature needs our help too, and in the case of a community-owned Scottish nature reserve, Studio Walden was happy to supply it.

When we think of branding, we usually think of companies and consumer products: we don't usually think about wild spaces like moorland.

But protecting our dwindling natural resources is a major operation in today's world, and places like the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve in Langholm, Scotland, can benefit from every bit of help they can get.

The reserve covers 10,050 acres of land and is a landmark case in private-to-public ownership. Earlier this year, it was sold by the Duke of Buccleuch, one of Scotland's biggest landowners, as part of a community buyout. It's received over £3 million in funding, and it's set to reinvigorate the post-industrial economy of the area via what's been called "Britain's most ambitious rewilding project".

Now in public ownership, the area is of great importance to the local community, both human and animal alike. There is pride in the Hen Harrier popular upon the land, which has been provided with a safe haven through this rewinding scheme.

This is alongside Langholm Moor, also included in the buyout, which sits above the town with its iconic monument piercing the clouds.

Enormous project

Starting in early 2021 Studio Walden, an eco-friendly, conscious and sustainable graphic design studio in Carlisle, Cumbria, was approached by The Langholm Initiative, which now runs the runs and manages the land, to create a harmonious and new identity for Tarras Valley Nature Reserve.

As founder Vincent Walden, who runs the studio from his shared attic studio, explains: "This was an enormous project, bigger than anything I had tackled before. I hope it can inspire other private-to-public buyout schemes in years to come."

For Vincent, this identity realised a dream that he has held since setting up his own practice following redundancy in June 2020, and he hopes that it can open the gates for doing more work creating brands for natural causes.

The rebranding aimed to change perceptions of the reserve and the local understanding of the area. It had to feel like the community yet distinctly new, not an easy task for any project.

The new identity for Tarras Valley needed to encompass guidance on signage, social media, vehicle graphics, uniform and merchandise, giving the small and driven team all the tools they need to continue developing this landmark success.

The process went through many revisions, with all concepts keeping the idea of place and community at the heart of it, with the final logo representing the valley at sunrise with its namesake river, River Tarras, flowing through the middle.


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