Tasmania: Storytelling through story pairings

entered by Brand Tasmania

There was a time when Tasmanians tended to ignore what it was to be Tasmanian. In a loud world, they were silent. Hiring people to boast that Tasmania was the best – world-class even – never worked. So instead of purchasing a solution from an agency, the team at Brand Tasmania listened to Tasmanians. After over 400 interviews, they had hundreds of thousands of words – and these words were eerily consistent and powerful. The Tasmanian story follows a ‘rags-to-riches’ structure – though in Tasmania, success is about realising individual and community potential rather than money. Tasmanians are Cinderellas – hidden, misunderstood, beautiful but overlooked. Then with hard work, passion, and obsession, they pursue the special, the strange, the artisanal.

The quiet pursuit of the extraordinary

The team distilled this into six words: the quiet pursuit of the extraordinary. But how do you express this through design?

The strategy had to unite tourism, trade, workforce, student, and investment attraction – all while creating a public asset that Tasmanians feel they own and can use. The team needed to express ‘Tasmanian-ness’ with emotion, backed by strategy, and find ways to tell the story back to people – straight to their hearts, without overwhelming and distracting them, and without feeding into any cynicism about ‘re-branding’. To tell a story – through design – that unified 520,000 people and spoke to their audiences and customers on mainland Australia and around the world. 

Their partners in Tourism Tasmania were the first to tell the story that Brand Tasmania had uncovered, with a campaign that ignored the usual beach and kangaroo shots and instead delved deeply in what it means to be Tasmanian. In the process, they created an elegant treatment of the word TASMANIA. Tasmania is the place. Tasmanian is the culture. So what if they just added an N?

Telling a unified story

If a place brand is a unifying cultural expression, unification is the hard part. Tourism Tasmania was already telling the story, so why not join them?

Good storytelling is about showing, not telling, so their agency, The20, found a way to ‘show’ the spirit of Tasmania in the ‘TASMANIAN story pairing.’ The story pairing concept harnesses the power of place/person/product and carries the duality of struggle and flourish, of light and dark, of survival and abundance – the contrasts that underpins many Tasmanian stories. In a story pairing, there’s a split down the word TASMANIAN between the final ‘A’ and the ‘N’, with a different image on each side. On the left, the image conveys the beauty of the environment, mixed with the challenge and perseverance the ‘place’ requires. This aligns with the TASMANIA component of the wordmark. On the right of the story pairing is the culture: what Tasmanians do and create, which aligns with the ‘N’. 

An example of the Tasmanian design identity

A quiet pursuit should reflect a quiet pursuit, and as such, Brand Tasmania didn’t launch the brand at all. They simply presented the platform to their partners and offered to help – and in doing so, they uplift and enhance the wrk rather than owning it. The approach resonated with locals and other government agencies; the Australian Nation Brand team use it to demonstrate how state and nation brands can work together. The team are now developing digital templates to allow partners to create their own story pairings, complementing their digital story generator, and they’re building a provenance storytelling and traceability platform to tell Tasmanian artisanal stories and protect Tasmanian authenticity at the point of sale.

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