The Story Behind the New NECN Logo

Last year I designed a new logo and website for National Estate Churches Network. On the surface it’s just a calm, simple logo – but in reality it has a lot of meaning behind it.

The logo is designed to break the narrative of estates being miserable places: it acknowledges the good bits of life on an estate, but still shows there is work to do.

The colours represent the everyday joys of living on a housing estate, which are the same joys as living anywhere! A cosy home with strong brick walls. The sunshine and blue sky, with flowers and the freshly mowed grass nearby. The fonts represent momentum, simplicity and hard work.

The Fonts

I chose the primary font for the letters NECN because the lettering implies a sense of direction and momentum. Each letter begins with a flat “starting line” and ends with a curved line as if it isn’t quite finished yet. This implies that the letters will continue on their journey: progressing along their respective paths with enthusiasm! Additionally, the even width of the letters is a little reminiscent of roads on a map, or perhaps a heavenly view of a housing estate. This font is called Folks by a designer called Manfred Klein.

The secondary font is for the words National Estate Churches Network (with the line and crosses detail). This is a bespoke version of the font “Coming soon” by The Font Emporium.

I chose this font for its simplicity and gentleness. The slight nod to handwriting makes the logo more friendly and informal. The non-joined writing implies that slow and steady work is to be done: it’s the kind of script that would be used on a to-do list.

The Colours

The colours are taken from photos of a housing estate on a sunny day.

The blue and the green in the logo are directly colour picked from photos of Shadsworth housing estate, where my mum is the Vicar [1]. They are real colours from a real housing estate: the blue from the sky and the green from the freshly mowed grass verge.

My mum, the Vicar (right) at Shadsworth getting her PhD!

The brick red is slightly modified so as to be more broadly representative of English brick generally (Shadsworth is built with an unusual pink-purple brick). The yellow is taken from a photograph of a dandelion, as there are many of these cheeky chappies in Shadsworth (but not in the photos as the grass was just mown). The yellow also also represents the sunshine, which shines on outer estates just as much as anywhere else!

Shadsworth Leisure Centre, which finally shut down in 2018

The order of the colours is also symbolic of a heavenly perspective of a housing estate, with the sky, buildings, flowers and grass in order as if viewed from above. They are also organised using colour theory to provide a good balance.

A work of art in Shadsworth

I chose these real, warm, positive colours to be representative of housing estates in a positive but honest way. There are both joys and hardships on every estate – just the same as in any other place – yet our society often focuses on the negative things. We often set apart those who live in social housing, treating them as “other”.

The logo acknowledges the often-ignored good bits of life on outer estates, but still indicates there is work to do and focus needed.

“Trouble on The Estate”

[1] Shadsworth, where my mum is Vicar, is a notably deprived outer estate in Blackburn, Lancashire. It was the victim of a particularly unhelpful BBC Panorama documentary in September 2012. At the time I responded to it with a mockumentary of my own, highlighting the manipulative camera techniques used in documentaries like “Trouble On The Estate.” The NECN logo is, for me, a more positive response than I felt able to give at the time.

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