Typography with a local touch. Trans Nordic Tours.

How Scandinavian runes and manuscripts helped us to build a modern wordmark logo for the travel agency.

Ok localness is praiseworthy. This is generally accepted.  In a world of air miles and far-flung travel at the drop of a hat, climate change, food additives and strawberries in January, worries of the world at large have a panacea. In place of globalism there is localism. Healthy food grown locally, a sense of age-old communities, working together selflessly as they have done for generations and leaving the greater world to its own devices. Globalisation is kept at bay as much as possible. There are downsides of course. Where I live there is no mobile coverage ☹

But there is more than just the simple life. There is a greater trend and desire to live in simple communities with local traditions stemming back hundreds if not thousands of years.

Let us not forget the funny side that local people with no new blood are inbred and hate change of all sorts and can’t even count!

There are two flows of people. In many parts of the world the flows are towards the melting pot cities, but for those who can afford it, there are also the outflows from the city to the country. And also, local devolution. Scotland and Wales have their own government of sorts now, and Catalunia is trying to break from Spain, to take a couple of examples. This is not just a sort of Nationalism, but a desire to turn back to what really matters.

Local traditions fostered can include languages. Cornish for example in the South West of England. Cornwall has always been (along with Wales), the last refuge of the native Briton after successive waves of invasion from the Romans, Saxons etc. By 1800 there were no speakers of Cornish. As of 2019 there are 300 fluent speakers, and 5000 with basic ability as a direct result of the increase of interest in localism.

Typography can tap into this.  It is not only the aesthetic, the variety, the novelty, the escape from blandness and uniformity (Starbucks anyone?)  but a harking back to the old ways, the ways of belonging, when we all lived in communities before imposed diversity became the totem before all must prostrate themselves. Not that a mix of peoples is either good nor bad, but historically it has always led to conflict for obvious reasons, and, as we are basically cavemen underneath, this is unlikely to change.

Point being that people like to BELONG to a group. To identify. To have a sense of shared values, not a chaotic free for all. Even LA gangs are no different in their essential raison d’etre to the Scandinavian Hygge movement.

What was the ideal human unit throughout the million years or so of human history? I believe it was something in the region of 20 or 30 families, just enough to protect themselves and procreate and prevent too much inbreeding. And if you have ever lived in a village you will see the same attitudes and behaviours all over the world. Whether this is for everyone is debateable of course. But many thrown into the maelstrom (nice Norwegian word that) of modern life, still feel an ancient need to belong and not be forced for politically correct reasons to confront a new and strange culture on every street corner. I believe in London there is a street, not a long shopping street with businesses and cafes catering to over 50 nationalities/cultures.

Old languages, old calligraphy

It is a well-worn path. Update or die. Take any old brand, Marmite, Kit-kat (UK) or Coke for example. Their logos and design have always been the same right? No. The cues are there but the brand logo must serve two purposes:

to give security, the feeling that tomorrow will be the same as today which was the same as yesterday – the familiarity and security of an old familiar friend who never changes and gives us the impression that it, and by extension, we, have always been here and always will, and that there is no such thing as death or the end of times.

And yet.

it must never appear outdated for new customers must be pulled into the orbit of the brand and for the younger ones of course, to be considered old-fashioned, can mean the death of a brand. Even to appear to offer something new, whereas not doing so at all, can make all the difference to sales.

In a way this is the oldest trick in the book. How many times can the same soap powder be “new” or “improved”? Not that many, so the refreshment of the logo will have to serve in its stead.

With the wordmark logo for Transnordic Tours all of these factors came into play. There is the local link to the local market, a magnet for those outside Norway especially, to associate Viking Longships with the essence of travelling by sea in Norway and yet instead of an aging logo, there is a freshness, but with the curves directly mirroring the curves of ancient runes. At once modern, and yet timeless.

Further than this there is a lock in to the magic element of runic languages, as exploited by Tolkien, and present in common perceptions of runes. The feeling that there is or could be magic as there once was.

Thus, we have a local link to a local market in terms of branding and design, updated and carrying as much or if not more brand value in terms of an expanded series of connotations and denotations.

Youtube Video “Twelvety! – Tubbs and Edward do a stocktake…” (c) BBC.

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