Uist is not an island. This was our first lesson. It is a series of islands each with a unique sense of themselves. But what connects these places? We worked closely with a community group committed to promoting Uist as a place to live, where tourism is secondary to longterm investment and a clear demonstration that narratives around rural areas don't often gel with reality. So - it's complex, but we're comfortable working with complexity.
Through a series of workshops and conversations we were able to understand and get to the core of a passionate and profound attachment that people have to Uist. We discovered a common resilience and entrepreneurial spirit that connected the islands more than the usual focus on natural beauty. These are islands of opportunity not places constantly on the edge, at the centre of their world not 'remote'. From this understanding we used the idea that 'Uist is a state of mind' to guide the process of creating a brand and prototype platform to promote Uist in a sustainable way. It's about the people, their stories and a common mindset that makes the experience of living in rural places rich and full of opportunity even if there are different challenges from urban contexts. Complexity and diversity could be an asset.
Above: Workshop output creating understanding from a complex conversation
The brand celebrates this through a wordmark made of different pieces, things aren't smooth but there is a rugged beauty to this. The breaks in the letterforms recall stencils seen in agricultural contexts - something people are still close to in Uist, but applied in a modern, international way. This was important - the group wanted to avoid clichés in branding for islands and present a modern face to the world. A tagline of 'Vibrant Island Life' captured well what we needed to communicate. We worked with the team to guide and create content for the prototype platform that focused on the human stories and mindset we'd uncovered, working with photographer Cara Forbes to capture new images that would point the way to future brand and platform development.
From the core elements we were able to create patterning and photographic treatments that form the wider expressions of the visual language. Response across Uist has been positive and the project will now look to grow in scope from a rich foundation.
"Thanks so much to Friendhood for the huge contribution you have made, without which we could not have progressed the project so successfully. The community response has been so postive and we're really pleased to have taken this journey together."