Nominated as a Finalist in the New National Treasure category for the National Geographic Traveller Reader Awards 2019, StudioLR was the creative agency behind the new Hebridean Whale Trail brand and website.


Background

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) is well-known for its marine wildlife conservation work in the Scottish Hebrides – tracking and caring for whales, dolphins and porpoises. But it wanted to bring the magic of these creatures to a wider public audience by encouraging people to see them first-hand and connect emotionally with the conservation efforts.

We were brought on board to help develop the Hebridean Whale Trail
– a visitor trail formed with 30+ sites across the Hebrides, linking breath-taking scenery with the opportunity to watch for whales, dolphins and porpoises. The trail has come together to further promote Scotland as one of Europe’s best whale-watch destinations and champion conservation of the Hebrides’ unique, globally important marine wildlife and environment.

From dramatic headlands and sea lochs, to white, sandy beaches and bustling harbours; the Whale Trail showcases special places where land meets sea; where natural and cultural heritage are interwoven.

Through branding, a new website, a digital marketing campaign and on-site interpretation, we’ve helped to bring the Hebridean Whale Trail vision to life.

The Challenge

When marine wildlife is migratory by nature and the opportunity to spot it is often by chance, the design challenge was:

“how do you emotionally connect the places on the trail to the whales, even when you can’t see them?”

The Places

Our response to this challenge was to focus on the places themselves. Each spot along the trail has its own unique sense of place, with stories that instil wonder in the audience. Encouraging visitors to feel the magic of the place that attracts the sea creatures back time and time again.

With the Trust, we engaged with stakeholders and the community to explore and curate local stories. This also brought the communities on board as supporters and champions of the project.

Brand Execution

We created a brand to connect emotionally with the audience. From romantic illustrations of sea creatures to playful fonts and ambiguous messaging, it was carefully designed to instil a sense of wonder about the places and the marine wildlife.

With ambiguity and romance you can create a trail for people AND whales, it’s unexpected… making it more memorable. Visitors are encouraged to feel like the whales and dolphins are there (even when they’re not).

Digital Design

The Whale Trail website is the central hub of the trail, where people have immediate access to the trail sites and begin route planning. To make an immediate impact, the website opens with a video of stunning footage of some of the key sites. The video interwoven with animated illustrations of the creatures, setting the tone of the trail. Throughout the website, each site is given a unique sense of place through storytelling, imagery and illustration.

Social campaigns were aimed at both sea creatures and people alike – welcoming them both to the sites across Scotland.

On-site Interpretation

Illustrated panels and banners at the sites share the stories of the place. They have information about wildlife spotting and encourage people to join the Whale Trail. Made to complement the natural heritage in a sustainable way, sites are also pinpointed by HWDT Whale Trail plaques made by a local Scottish designer, Tiree Glass, from recycled sea glass.


Commended with a Wee Nod for Best Digital Design in the Nods 2020 awards.


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