On September 23, 2022, Bhutan reopened its borders to the world, welcoming international guests back to the kingdom after more than two years. At the same time, the country revealed a new national identity that demonstrates an evolution and a spirit of optimism, destined to inspire pride and spark the imaginations of citizens and visitors alike. Seems interesting? Well, read on!
To mark the reopening of the kingdom and to look to the future with hope and optimism, Bhutan created a whole new identity for the country to inspire a new vision of the future to its citizens. The result reflects Bhutan’s character and landscapes, history and ambitions: bold, vivid, richly storied and utterly distinctive – rebranding it for a new tomorrow, both for its people and its guests who are seeking a different travel experience.
Julien Beaupre Ste-Marie, Managing Director, MMBP & Associates, the London based branding and design agency involved in the project, says: “Working closely with the Kingdom of Bhutan to create its new national brand has been a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity for me and for our team. We are one piece of the puzzle in a much larger era of transformation—it truly feels like history in the making. The learnings we made working alongside such an inspired group of Bhutanese people and international stakeholders will influence how we work for years to come. Similarly, as the world wakes up to the damaging effects of unrestricted mass tourism and tries to find ways to mitigate climate change, this small and mighty country has many lessons to share with the world. Our hope is that our work and this brand helps to carry this vision forward.”
The new branding and the new campaign have been announced but they are still not fully in the public domain. But some old friends of mine from Bhutan shared some interesting details of what to look forward to.
Bold, Confident logotype
The distinct logotype is the manifestation of a bold and confident country, grounded in time-honoured traditions and a majestic landscape.
Contemporary, Clear thinking
Clean lines create a contemporary feel, mirroring the nation’s future-facing ethos. The logotype’s elegant and crisp expression conveys the elevated experience Bhutan offers its guests.
Traditional, Warm feelings
With a gentle curve, the logotype alludes to the warm and grounded personality of the Bhutanese people. This timeless and organic form embodies the kingdom’s earthy character.
Responsive, Functional design
The versatile logotype is designed to be responsive and functional across mediums and media.
Tagline that defines : believe
A sense of possibility greets you in Bhutan, a feeling that other ways of being in the world and experiencing life are within reach. Far from the humdrum and the hectic, removed from hollow luxury and high pressure, Bhutan is proof that happiness, connection, respite and revelation are our birthright. Restoring one’s sense of belief is the kingdom’s real gift to its visitors. The nation itself believes in a better future, led by wisdom from its past – a belief it is manifesting daily.
Ornaments, Auspicious Symbols, Mythical Animals as graphic elements
Hand-painted architectural decoration is one of the 13 crafts, or zorigchusum, that represent Bhutanese cultural identity. Traditional motifs have been re-imagined with digital precision to create dynamic, new icons.
A series of auspicious symbols has been given a bold, graphic reworking in high-contrast hues, evoking Bhutan’s dynamism and transformation, rooted in its vibrant heritage.
Four auspicious beasts from Buddhist mythology, carrying powerful symbolism, have been digitally redrawn. Imbued with all their traditional meaning – but presented with newly sharp definition and vivid color – they invoke stories past, present and future.
Contemporary Constellations and Future Folk Patterns
“Contemporary constellations” draws on the traditional decorations of Bhutan, rearranging and reinterpreting them as a richly decorative pattern. The complete iteration seen is primarily used on the inside of applications: hidden at first, but revealed when you take a closer look. One can imagine it as an interpretation of the clear night sky, filled with mesmerizing constellations.
Using an imagined telescope to gaze at our constellation, this extreme close-up creates an appealing abstraction that’s thoroughly modern. A progressive reimagining of folkloric motifs in vivid, optimistic hues, this evolution plays with the contrasts alluded to in our brand narrative.
The primary color palette features five main shades that together express the brand’s premium quality. The yellow and orange draw on the Bhutanese flag, symbolizing the kingdom’s civic and monastic traditions. On the ground, Bhutan’s colors are those of its emerald-green mountains – covered in blue pine and cypress – and its national flower, the Himalayan blue poppy. A continuation of Bhutan’s previous identity, the blue also references the clear azure sky above Bhutan’s majestic mountains – mountains harboring precious glaciers in similar hues. The soft black is inspired by the natural soot from the cheerful fires burning in the country’s hearths.
The secondary color palette draws on the natural dyes used for traditional Bhutanese architectural ornamentation. From mineral vermilion and conch shell, to sandalwood and lotus pigment, these organic, earthy tones beautifully reveal the passing of time.
As the primary and secondary color palettes evoke the natural and the demure, the tertiary color palette contrasts and complements these grounded tones. These vivid hues catapult our visual identity well beyond the present moment, giving it a truly dynamic and future-facing expression.
Heralding its reopening to international tourism, and a new era of transformation, Bhutan has reintroduced itself to the world with an international campaign which will break globally soon. This campaign takes the form of a manifesto: a bold statement encapsulating its pride, progress and plans. It will lead conscious travelers from their preconceptions of the nation as mystical and remote to new awareness of its progressiveness and ambitions. It will also be a rallying cry for the Bhutanese as they lead the country through the process of transformation. Inspired by Bhutan’s colorful oral traditions, the campaign is worded to evoke the lyrical flow of lozey and darshey, giving the kingdom’s rich heritage contemporary expression.
I tried searching the MMBP London site for the new logo. The Bhutan tourism sites also drew a blank. So the announcements are there, the details are available, but the new graphics are yet being released progressively. The first publicity banner of the campaign that is like a trailer of what to expect soon is shown with this piece.
I have been a Bhutan regular since the past 30 years, having visited the Royal kingdom dozens of times. There is really no place in the world that is so divine – mystical, spiritual, inspiring and pure. One really looks forward to the new Bhutan graphics. I am sure they will elevate Bhutan to an even higher promise, and a higher experience.