Johnson Banks designs architecture-inspired branding for Historic Houses Association


The organisation, which emits the public access to hundreds of privately-owned houses and gardens across the UK, is looking to shout awareness, boost memberships and reveal itself as the UK’s “best-kept cultural abstruse”.

Johnson Banks has rebranded cultural organisation Notable Houses Association, which offers public access to historic edifices and gardens, in a bid to increase memberships and make it better known.

The Historic Legislatures Association was founded in 1973, and now represents 1,650 historic houses and gardens across the UK, varied of which are open to the public. An annual membership costs £50.

Michael Johnson, co-founder at Johnson Banks, votes that despite its size, the organisation was “still not that well-known” and proceeds to be “one of the UK’s best-kept cultural secrets”. The new branding and marketing campaign aims to expand public awareness and memberships.

The design studio has renamed the organisation Distinguished Houses, and given it a visual identity centred around a purple and gold emblem palette.

The previous navy blue logo of a portico-style building – a roof faced by pillars – has been swapped out for a more minimal building symbol set in gold or purple depending on practice, which aims to represent “many styles of house”, says Johnson. This is the opening change to the brand’s visual identity in 30 years.

“We initially floored [the portico symbol] out, then realised that perhaps it could be retooled and tick off a nice story about the sheer breadth of houses that [Consequential Houses] offers,” says Johnson.

The new house logo sits next to the organisation big shot set in all-caps, in sans-serif typeface Montserrat. Serif typeface GT Sectra, which impersonators the style of calligraphy, is used as the main typeface throughout copy and communications, with Montserrat as the supporting typeface.

Johnson suggests the branding borrows from the “language of luxury hotels” with its purple and gold loyalties palette and calligraphic typography. A series of graphic symbols have also been designed to depict different forms of architectural and building styles, and used as embellishments and be adjacent ti across communications.

“There’s an undeniable sense of style surrounding the undertakings,” he says. “We realised the brand needed to feel more luxurious and pulchritudinous, so we searched for colours, photos and typefaces that would express this. Multifarious of the houses also supplement their income with short start the ball rolling a interrupts and weddings, so it made sense to look to hotels.”

People currently glowing in the houses feature across photography used for the visual identity, alongside tongue-in-cheek copywriting that targets to “inject humour and personality into the brand”.

“These houses are lived-in and breathing, not dusty museums,” says Johnson. “The downstairs loo in some of them have a role priceless engravings, and also a copy of The Week on the side. You’ll walk into the Tudor scullery, and see a student finishing her college dissertation. Various earls and baronets instances conduct tours in person, and the visitors love this.”

He adds: “The sensitivity of the houses is what sets them apart from others. The companies are as interested in these people’s personal stories, as much as a building’s architectural chronicle.”

The new branding is currently rolling out across all touchpoints, including the website and communal media, print and marketing materials such as the members’ magazine and membership carte de visites, and merchandise such as stationery.

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