KE Adventure A new brand for a well-established tour operator specialising in active adventures

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KE Adventure Travel is a well-established tour operator based in the Lake District, specialising in active adventures. Founded in 1984 by two friends, the first incarnation of KE was a café and bunkhouse, from which they would take British climbers and trekkers to Pakistan’s Karakoram.

KE became synonymous with tough treks and climbs, but over the years, the offering has broadened and now encompasses the full range from extreme climbs through to the ‘softer’ end of the walking and cycling markets.

Nearly forty years later KE offers a wide range of tours, with more than 300 trips on sale to 90 countries.

As a result, it became apparent that the original brand was not reflective of the breadth of offering, and was potentially losing relevance amongst the new, wider range of customers.

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The brief

KE’s heritage is a source of huge pride, but any brand development needed to acknowledge its history while not appearing dated and rooted in their past. As is often the challenge when evolving an established, much loved and admired brand one has to develop the brand to appeal to a newer, younger audience with a broad taste in activities; whilst at the same time not alienating the loyal, existing client base.

Some practical aspects of the brand were potentially working against it. The colours (burgundy, yellow and black) were a challenge, and the format of the logo, with its wide mountain range, was restrictive in some formats, particularly digital.

Our Approach

The first stage of the process involved us investigating the Adventure Travel market to see how the category was split across the spectrum of ‘hardcore’ adventure to more gentle travel, as well as premium to budget travel. It became apparent that there had been a gradual drift towards more gentle travel as customers have aged with the travel companies. However, some competitors have maintained their niche at the forefront of tough trekking, and a number of new companies had entered the market, founded with sustainability at their core.

Being aware of the market is one thing, but we needed to work with the team at KE to understand where they saw themselves. One of the most valuable insights that came out of our workshops with them was that ‘adventure’ was what it meant to the customer. It could be scaling a Himalayan peak, or it could be a family cycle trip in Europe. But whatever it was, the KE audience was looking for enrichment and lasting memories.

In the face of new competition we felt that KE needed to produce something with a bold, distinctive visual identity, and ideally one that can be interpreted in its own way by the viewer – giving customers an impression of an inclusive company.

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The brand Wild Dog Design created is an evolution of the current brand, rather than a complete reinvention. We kept the mountain range as the key asset and as a salute to the mountain heritage, which has always been core to KE Adventure trips. Nonetheless the mountains have become more abstract and modern; less geographically placed in the Karakoram region but rather more universal. Whilst the peaks are less severe, there is an additional organic, fluid moving line has been added to cover representative of water and gentle undulating hills. The frame adds focus, and allows the marque to be used in isolation as well as with the full brand name.

Meanwhile, the emphasis was added to ‘KE’ and we removed the word ‘travel’ from the brand name.

The KE colours were refreshed, adding a new, modern coral to the palette to complement the burgundy. The coral aligns itself with the warm desert and sunlit rocks and the rich burgundy has been retained in tribute to the Himalayan heritage of this brand. Meanwhile, a secondary colour palette has been introduced to complement other natural elements, including the sky, forests, and water.

The geometric typeface Area was chosen for its adaptability and versatility across a range of mediums and scales, as well as its quiet, yet impressionable flicks and nuances throughout.

As KE Adventure enters its fifth decade, we are proud to have helped bring them up to date to succeed in the next generation of adventure travel.

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