Brands I admire – brands that inspire: Forestry Commission

Published: 29th Sep 2014 by Susi Jacobs
Categories: Branding

Forestry Commission cycling

Ideal Word Associate, branding expert and mountain biker, Susi Jacobs, tells us why she admires the Forestry Commission brand...


No, it’s not a name that I would have imagined would be one of my top ten brands either. But over the past year my family and I have become avid mountain bikers, and so the Forestry Commission has, surprisingly, become a well-loved brand in our household.

In recent years they have opened up large areas of un-used or under-used woodland to mountain bikers. Previously, conservation societies tried to keep mountain bikers away from the forest, believing they would damage it. Now however the Forestry Commission has embraced the bikers and created trails specifically for them. It’s a win-win; the cyclists keep to the purpose built trails, thus reducing erosion and other damage, and the bikers get to both enjoy the landscape and feel more involved in its conservation.

It’s been done properly, too. The purpose built trail centres are truly well thought out, with beautifully designed and well maintained bike trails and skills parks, large car parks, on-site bike hire, well-run cafes providing a wide range of locally sourced foods, clean toilets, gift shops, walking trails for non-riders and outdoor adventure playgrounds for little ones. Everything a rider or their family could want or need is there.

What’s so inspiring is that they’ve stayed true to their brand values but done it in a radically different way, by challenging convention and looking to the future. Yes it’s still about protecting and conserving the countryside, as the purpose built trails restrict traffic and therefore erosion - but it’s also about recruiting the next generation to the cause by making the countryside relevant and attractive to them.

They’ve turned woodlands into fun parks, places filled with delighted shrieks and squeals. They’ve given our children a reason to get fresh air and exercise, as well as winning hearts and minds by aligning themselves and what they stand for – conservation of the natural habitat and countryside – with ‘fun’ and ‘happiness’, ‘excitement’ and ‘challenge’. My children, and many others, are growing up with a healthy, exciting hobby and a love of woodlands, nature and wildlife, thanks to the very clever people behind the bike trails. That’s the effect of brilliant branding.

Great branding is about knowing what you stand for, but it’s also about finding new ways to make it relevant and appealing to new audiences.  In making their cause and their brand relevant to the next generation, creating emotional bonds with them, the Forestry Commission have used innovative thinking to both improve people’s lives in the present and leave a truly worthwhile legacy for the future. 

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