Branding Buxton – identity comes to fruition

Most of the work we do is in either creating identities or developing these (marketing initiatives) for our clients. We call this brand development. It is what we enjoy the most, and I believe, do the best!

It is often said that branding towns and places is harder than products or services, because so many people have different views about what that should be. Buxton was no exception to this rule! We received a lot of critical and constructive feedback at every stage of the process – all of which was acknowledged and addressed. This, combined with our design process (which is extremely thorough and methodical) meant that everything has been questioned, challenged, pulled apart, deconstructed and reconstructed all over again. It has to be – a project of such importance has to be robust enough to endure scrutiny at every level.


The brief
The logotype is a key component of the marketing toolkit, which can be used (free of charge) by stakeholders – mostly Buxton based businesses and organisations to promote the town to visitors, potential investors and the ‘outside’ world. Elements of the toolkit include;

  • Buxton logotype with strapline ‘England’s leading Spa town.’ The strapline was provided by High Peak Borough Council, (joint funders for the project) and was the outcome of a community consultation exercise about place making and shaping.
  • Brand Buxton guidelines – basic guidelines about application.
  • Approved photography – a selection of high quality images of the town, festivals and attractions.
  • Taking stock document – a brochure full of facts and interesting information about Buxton. Read it here.
  • Promotional video for inclusion on websites. Watch it here.

The logotype had to represent Buxton – a picturesque spa town in Derbyshire. It has the highest elevation of any market town in England. Buxton is home to Poole’s Cavern, an extensive limestone cavern open to the public, and St Ann’s Well, fed by a geothermal spring, bottled and sold internationally by Buxton Mineral Water Company. Also in the town is the Buxton Opera House, which hosts several music and theatre festivals each year. Buxton has a rich selection of prominent and beautiful buildings, largely as a result of its Spa heritage. The Devonshire Campus of the University of Derby is housed in one of the town’s historic buildings.

Famous for its natural mineral water and Spa heritage, Buxton can be said to be an historic, picturesque town that is enterprising, active and friendly. It has a certain bohemian character.

A vision for Buxton
The ultimate aim of the initiative is to capitalise on Buxton’s key assets; Spa heritage, architecture, location and picturesque setting, to secure its long-term economic, cultural and social prosperity.

The research
Often overlooked but always invaluable – and critical to the success of any project. I often think research is like turning stones on the beach; you never know what you might discover! But more importantly, research helps to inform, determine the design rationale and also provides a source if inspiration. Our research was broad and very varied. We spent a day at the local library, a day in the museum, lots of time looking (and photographing) architectural landmarks and how the name Buxton appears on these buildings and many hours on the internet too. To summarise, our research revealed;

• That the name Buxton works better in capitals (rather than upper and lower case).
• That Buxton has a unique opportunity to promote and capitalize on its Spa heritage. This was a key part of the brief. Amazingly, it revealed that no other Spa towns appeared to be exploiting this.
• That most of the prominent (and architecturally significant) buildings use the building as a part of their visual identity.

We researched how Buxton was promoted in the past and also how the name appeared in the towns architecture

The design
Our design concepts have always focused on water. We initially started looking at fountains and used this concept to develop our ideas. First problem – although Buxton has many beautiful and classically designed buildings it does not have any fountains of similar appeal.

During the design process we looked at dozens and dozens of options. Some are shown below. For various reasons many of these have of course been rejected – design is about finding out what doesn’t work as well as what does.


The Solution
The new logotype embraces the concept of a water source. The ‘O’ is the focal point of the design where water emerges and the ripples create this letterform. Embracing is also the key word – the fact that water is integral to the history of Buxton and that this is reflected in this design is another key attribute.

The word ‘Spa’ in the strapline intentionally centres underneath the ‘O’ where it is also larger than the other words, again for emphasis. A very small word, but such an important one, which would otherwise be lost.

The typography reflects heritage, a combination of Perpetua expert small caps (with its quirky ‘U’) and a sans-serif Charlotte, bringing a more contemporary touch. The proportions for both these fonts are based on the Roman inscriptions carved into stone – appropriately as the town was once Roman! The name ‘Buxton’ works better as capitals (and also enhances Buxton’s aspirational and authorative strapline).

A vignette of blue colouring, from dark to light also runs through the type, again to reference water.

The logotype is energized, up-beat and vibrant – almost celebratory.


I have always believed that there is no point in creating a logotype without some guidance as to how it should be used. To this aim we also designed an identity guidance document, outlining key aspects about the logotype and how to best reproduce it. A sample spread from this document is shown below.


I would like to thank my colleagues  Liz Mackenzie and Adrian Brown of Vision Buxton for their support during the design development stage. Peter Horridge, a freelance calligrapher and typographer was also very supportive in the latter design stages.

If you are a Buxton based organisation, business or individual and would like to use the toolkit please contact the administrator at Vision Buxton.




Post a Comment

Your email is never shared.
Required fields are marked *