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Bernheim Forest

A new brand for the next century of Bernheim Forest.

Bernheim Forest

For the last 95 years, Bernheim Forest has inspired countless generations to connect with nature in their 16,000 acres of pristine and wild forest.

Their unique and successful mixture of art, nature and education has inspired them to eagerly look forward. In the next one hundred years, Bernheim aspires to be a nationally treasured leader in ecological stewardship that inspires the exploration of our deep connections with nature.

With this bold new vision pointing the way, we worked step by step with Bernheim to craft a new brand that equipped them for this new journey.

Take the Path Less Travelled

Research + Strategy

Bernheim's unique blend of art, nature and education have led them to new horizons. In the last decade, the success of the Forest Giants have increased attendance dramatically, and Bernheim was ready to capitalize on their success, and move Isaac W. Bernheim's vision forward with it.

Through market research of similar institutions, interviews with dozens of stakeholders, and an audit of how they currently communicate with their audience, we developed a comprehensive project plan.

Bernheim had well defined branding goals mapped in their Strategic Plan:

  • Lead the conversation around conservation, connecting with nature, as a strong, independent force.
  • Have a brand with similar stature, cohesion and balance of legacy + progress similar to the U.S. National Parks.
  • Have a brand that can contain the offerings, but also telegraph the activity and forward momentum.
  • Be perceived as independent, active, quirky - maybe even a bit risky - but always “in agreement with nature”. A quality investment for donors.

Key Insights

Bernheim's unique value has always been it's independence. But with it's successes in the last decade, it's newfound role is that of a leader, an innovator and a little bit of a provocateur. Yet, the forest will always be the foundation, so the brand must always be “in agreement with nature” - and most certainly a quality investment for their donors and members. Passion for the outdoors, with a bold vision, supported with conservation, education, with a proud legacy.

Our goal was to build a brand with similar stature, cohesion and balance similar to the U.S. National Parks - but with the unique energy and momentum of Bernheim.

Creative Process

Through our Brand Strategy process, we develop a concept that resonates with our audience and tells the story of Bernheim.

Honing In

Our Semantic Differential exercise gave us insight into brand attributes to emphasize. Bernheim’s Brand is to be more colorful, visionary, energetic, and direct. Use illustrations in our communication materials to express the intersection of nature, people, and art. Photography is important, but some emotions are more impactful using illustration.

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The Big Idea

Before we begin to develop finished brand identity components, we develop a Brand Concept: The Big Idea. The Essence.

For Bernheim, the Big Idea was "The Way to Wonder":


  • Bernheim’s vision is clear, and its position is established.
  • Bernheim’s majestic scale invokes wonder.
  • Bernheim thrives at the harmonious intersection of people and nature.
  • Bernheim poses questions, breaks boundaries.
  • Bernheim connects, excites and inspires.

The concept doesn't arrive fully formed! This creative work is a synthesis of creative inspiration, feedback and... time. A few of our initial concept moodboards - all inspired by the same brand strategy work - looked like this:

Through thoughtful feedback and collaboration with key stakeholders, Bernheim guided us to where they wanted to go, resulting in a final concept that was accepted by their team and board.

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Visual Identity

The wordmark is customized from New Spirit Bold font. We chose this mark because the soft curves of the lower case letters resembled the rolling hills of Bernheim. (Typography meets topography) The wordmark is friendly and inviting.

The main mark stunningly represents the spirit of Bernheim. Bernheim's range of offerings and creative spirit led to many iterations, but the final “stained glass” mark tells a story in itself.

On first glance, the mark resembles a tree or a leaf, but on deeper introspection, it can also resemble trails on a hike. The subtle stained glass framing and curves gives it a spiritual quality that allows the viewer to respect that side of nature.

We knew we needed a circular version of the logo, so a “badge” was developed for more informal usages like social media icons and other embellishments.

Brand Mindset, Voice and Messaging

Bernheim's audiences range from prospective visitors to students to donors - of nearly every age, demographic and desire. Providing a framework for creating messaging that has a strong connection to the core values of the brand is critical if it is to be truly adopted by the organization.

We provide all brands this framework through defining a brand mindset, brand voice and tone, and audience-specific messaging.


One of our most important ideas in brand is "mindset" - which defines how a brands sees itself in the world—its environment and how it interacts with the world and how the world interacts with the brand.

This is Bernheim's mindset:


  • Our long-term goal is to conserve and protect, and how we do that is by inviting and connecting people with nature.


  • It’s bigger than us, we are a part of it, and we have to respect that relationship. The forest will always be our backdrop, and we never overpower it.


  • We understand that Bernheim is a broad, varied experience that each person takes in differently. Our goal is to invite, expose, and guide. We don’t prescribe or demand — we inspire.


  • We’ve been here for nearly a century and we are just as committed to the mission as Isaac Bernheim, our founder. We’re active, moving forward, and we are an institution worth supporting. People trust us, and we leverage that trust in service of the forest.


Voice is the brand’s character, and it should be consistent yet rich with the attributes that define the brand and respect the mindset.

Variations in it should not change dramatically in the same reading. Put simply, any brand communication that Bernheim puts out into the world should carry these qualities.


  • Bernheim is a humble leader with a legacy. Bernheim is charismatic: we know who we are, what we have to offer and where we are going, all while being incredibly inviting (and a little intriguing).

Welcome to Wildness.


  • We encourage visitors to explore by providing them relevant, captivating content that inspires the imagination. We should strive to give space for interpretation and wonder, while anchoring our content in only critical info. Don’t over communicate, over-explain, or presume how people should feel or interpret.

16,000 Acres and a Million Things to Do.


  • We give texture to experiences through curious details, and celebrate creativity. We highlight contrasts and celebrate interesting connections. We say it’s fun when it’s fun, boast a bit when we do something unique, but are serious when we need to be. However, we don’t want Bernheim to be a “personality” and we are never snarky, mean or contrarian.

Approachably Confident • Encouraging Exploration • A little Quirky + Unexpected


As it is when we speak, our tone will vary depending on the tool, audience, medium, and message. Our primary audiences are prospective and current visitors. Our secondary audiences are members and donors.

Prospective Visitors: INSPIRATIONAL

We have a casual tone that leans awestruck and reverent to the experience of Bernheim. We are encouraging, but not over-eager. Our quirkiness serves to inspire and spark curiosity.

Current Visitors: WAYFINDING

We are very direct, providing clear wayfinding. We say less, giving ample space for interpretation. We are less quirky - as the experience (and not the words) should provide that feeling.


Similar to that of prospective visitors, but leaning more direct and eager for them to support the forest and be a part of it.


We are at our most serious with donors. We are leaders: confident, successful and having a mission and vision worth supporting.

Brand Guidelines

We believe that Brand Guidelines should evolve as you use them, so this "Version 1" is comprehensive, but also leaves room for future and further development. It includes usage of visual assets as well as voice & tone. Ideas and sample collateral designs are worked in at the end of the document to help future designers stay on brand.

Brand Launch

The new brand was launched to coincide with the 95th anniversary of Bernheim and the opening of L+A+N+D, a new and groundbreaking art experience. Included at launch was a new bernheim.org website, Forest Echo magazine, merchandise, and other marketing collateral.

It takes time to make something that lasts. All told, from start to finish, the new Bernheim brand took nearly two years to discover, create, plan, and launch. A journey that was well worth the time and effort.

Let's Work Together!

If you have a brand looking for new horizons, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Bernheim Forest Website

Bernheim Forest Website

Building a WordPress site to align with the brand

Your most important marketing asset is your website. We redesigned bernheim.org to not only tells the story, but to create a user experience that was as useful as it was beautiful.

Check out the new website