The Crown Estate is a unique organisation with a portfolio like no other client we have ever collaborated with. With a heritage dating back hundreds of years, The Crown Estate was established by an Act of Parliament in 1961 as an independent commercial business that returns all of its profit to the Treasury for the benefit of the nation.
The Crown Estate manages some of the best places to work, shop and visit around the country as well as enabling the UK’s world-leading offshore wind industry. The estate includes some of central London’s most well known addresses, including Regent Street and St James’s, as well as a substantial regional and rural portfolio including Windsor Great Park and management of the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The crown in the room
The Crown Estate has a diverse range of audiences ranging from customers that visit Regent Street, to large corporations leasing office space and offshore wind operators leasing the seabed, to visitors to Windsor Great Park. Whilst its name may evoke images of an organisation unchanging through time, nothing could be further from the truth and today The Crown Estate stands out as a progressive business with a strong commitment to sustainability.
The Crown Estate’s ambition was to elevate its profile and shift perception from being seen as a traditional business to a progressive, purpose led organisation. Thus our mission was to bring The Crown Estate closer to its audiences, and modernise, humanise and unify its visual identity and tone of voice across all its diverse touch points.
We began by defining the brand personality of The Crown Estate, establishing unique, ownable, and relevant principles that aligned to the brand purpose whilst creating a distinct character that would be the foundations of the new expression of the organisation, visually and verbally.
We then created a tone of voice for The Crown Estate, focussing on humanising the language, and ensuring that it delivered against the principles: balancing commitment, vision and the company’s leadership position in the UK. The principles we established create a consistent and differentiating character to communicate in an accessible and appropriate way with all their audiences, both internally and externally.
Then, using the brand architecture that The Crown Estate had created, we developed a visual framework for the ‘flexible endorser’ model, with rules and principles defined, to help make visible the role of The Crown Estate in its respective assets, services, events and destinations.
Putting principles into practice
The key output was to visually realise the new brand personality and brand architecture through the articulation of a new visual language—a visual language that could cater for a broad range of audiences, communication needs, and reflect a more visible, service-led Crown Estate.
Echoing the frameworks which connect The Crown Estate’s disparate assets, the layout system is a robust set of flexible ‘spaces’ which enable consistent yet individual communication material. The modular system brings versatility to layout options, allowing a wide variety of clearly structured communication which can be as minimal or expressive as the creator requires. The mapped spaces allow for positioning of all graphic elements - from the logo through to art direction and messaging.
A colour palette was created, drawing inspiration from visually rich destinations under the Estate's stewardship. From muted hues to vibrant highlights, tonality of colour was used in order to suit any context; for more reserved, corporate uses through to bright, consumer-facing material.
This tonal range is partnered with a typographic system containing two typefaces which together create a robust basis for communication, capable of delivering different types of messages and tones, applicable to varying subjects and audiences.
An accompanying functional illustration kit allows for visuals to be rapidly built out of modular and flexible components. Each component was designed to a square unit allowing ‘plug and play’ flexibility in creating larger compositions. This modular illustration style was extended into a pattern system for each of the operating areas and further extended into a line based iconographic set to help translate the visual identity into the three-dimensional world of way finding and signage across The Crown Estates assets.
The last piece of the visual language was the art direction for photography, created to reflect the scale and quality of The Crown Estate’s places and a modern, people-focussed perspective. The imagery must be authentic and relevant, emotive and evocative, and it revolves around three pillars: Place, People and Point-in-time. The art direction ensures that all visuals capture a sense of place, showcasing the unique characteristics of The Crown Estate’s portfolio; that they focus on the human use and interaction with the spaces; and that they showcase vignettes of moments captured within the places.
The new Crown Estate brand is now being rolled out across all touch points, unifying the incredible breadth of places within The Crown Estate’s ownership and providing a singular and clear visual voice to the people who live, work and spend time in them.
The photographic examples on this page are for conceptual and design reference only. The image rights belong to the corresponding sources or authors.