Located in Nottinghamshire, England, Sherwood Forest is a 420-hectare royal forest best known for its association with the legend of Robin Hood and his band of merry men. Perhaps less known are the nearly 1,000 ancient oaks that populate the forest and its rich flora and fauna that attract over 350,000 visitors each year. This October, Sherwood Forest came under the wings of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and also saw the opening of a new £5-million visitor center that launched with a new identity designed by Sheffield, UK-based Cafeteria.
The visual identity is optimistic and open; ready to engage a new audience but remaining reassuring to current visitors, referencing familiar attributes of Sherwood. We steered well clear of any ‘ye olde’ connotations and instead created a clean contemporary identity that works in parity with the trust of the RSPB brand.
The logo comprises of three elements. The symbol shows a tree canopy with roots with the shapes echoing the arrowhead, shaft and fletching of an arrow. It blends and balances both the great oaks of the forest and the legend of Robin Hood.
The name, Sherwood Forest is set in a customised semi-serif font, Sherwood Sans - we crafted the weight, strokes and spacing of the letters to balance with the symbol. Set in bold capitals, the name is elegant, proud and assertive. Sherwood Sans is used throughout the identity as a headline font, setting a distinctive tone throughout communications.
Aside from this logo featuring a strong icon, the most commendable aspect for both design firm and client is that they resisted both the urge and expectations for this identity to be overly Robin Hood-esque or in some way a cliché of old English tales visuals. Instead, the icon focuses more on the nature aspect of the forest as the large leaves and roots first convey trees and, as a second read, you can see an arrow as a more subtle nod to Robin Hood. It’s a great icon that feels visually rich but, at the same time, quite simple. I like how it looks in a single color much better than in the green and brown combination. In the guidelines image there are some pretty nice tone-on-tone color combos that look great.
The wordmark (and headline type used throughout) is refreshingly not a sans serif and as a general aesthetic it works well but when you look at some of the characters closely, it gets a little wonky with the premise of the serifs shooting to the left on the outside of the letter and shooting to the right on the inside — see the “H” as the prime example. It’s not entirely pleasant. But, again, from a bird’s eye view it works well as a bridge between old time-y stuff and new sans serif-y stuff.
The name is underscored with the strapline ‘Where legends grow’. This is the essence of the brand. It’s an idea that captures the magic of Robin Hood, the majesty of the forest’s oaks and presents the forest as a place to discover, explore and leave with new memories and tales to tell.
The identity uses additional iconography and patterns to keep building on the nature-plus-Robin-Hood duality and manages to do it both elegantly and attractively while also integrating straightforward photography to highlight the forest.
The signage looks crisp and engaging and uses some of the better and more relevantly-designed icons that I’ve posted here in a while, with a style that matches the icon in the logo. There are a few more pictures of the visitor center on Cafeteria’s project page worth seeing. Overall, this has a great optimistic vibe that celebrates both the physical present nature of the forest as well as its legendary past history.
Thanks to Creative Review for the tip.