The Scout Association: Communication Design

We collaborated with The Scout Association’s internal creative team on a new set of physical resources.

So I’m a Scout now, but what does that mean?

Warming the Welcome

“We wanted Lovers to help us create a new and exciting chapter in the history of these important resources.”

Kevin Yeates
Head of Creative Content, The Scout Association

Old Books

Since it began in 1907, the Scouting Movement has evolved and progressed all over the world. In the UK it’s The Scout Association’s job to make sure its printed Scouting resources are kept relevant and engaging for all ages.

Becoming a Beaver, Cub, Scout or Explorer is a huge moment. A detailed guide has always been essential, ever since founder Sir Baden Powell’s first edition of ‘Scouting for Boys’. Working with a raft of new content created by the Scouting Assocation and their content partner EdComs, we collaborated closely to design the new resources into the hands of modern young Scouts.

The interests and motivations of a 6 year old Beaver Scout are obviously very different to those of a 16 year old Explorer Scout. We knew we'd have to tailor our visual language for each age bracket, but the intention was also to embed some common threads running between all ages.

We also wanted to explore how the formats of these materials could capture something of the Scouts' heritage whilst also feeling completely modern and practical for today's audience. Some pieces needed to sit proudly on a shelf, whilst others would need to live with their owner on a daily basis, and survive some weathering.

Can a visual voice mature with age?

Keeping the thread

Chloe & Kevin at the Scouts had a really clear vision for how they wanted these resources to come to life. Their ambition was key to the project’s success.

Esses

Akzidenz Grotesk Light, Super, Bold and Condensed Light

One of the best things about Scouting is the sense of family through the different age groups. There's a genuine culture of looking out for those younger than you, and also looking up to those a few years older.

Rather than using four different typefaces for the four sections, we selected a family containing multiple weights. This gave us the chance to create different voices for each age group, but ultimately keep a structural 'DNA' between all of these. They're different, but the same.

As the audience age progresses, the typography sheds some of its puppyish bounce, becoming more precise and measured. We carried this idea into layout techniques as well, ensuring that early age materials kept a relaxed spirit of fun and friendship, allowing things to gradually become more informational and instructional later.

By the time we reach Explorer age (14+) we turn the tone to become more editorial, treating the audience as more adult, expecting more mature reading techniques from the reader.

How do you visually engage young people?

The Visual Language

“A fisherman doesn't bait his hook with food he likes. He uses food the fish likes.”

Sir Robert Baden Powell
Founder of the Scouting Movement

Beavers-Characters

Illustration has a wonderful capacity to blend instruction with imagination, reaching places that photography can't.

For the Cubs age group (8-10½) we set out to create a mischevious visual langugage that could be fun at the same time as illustrating instructions and things to do.

By building up a world of animated objects across the Cubs resources we were able to jump between all kinds of activities without breaking flow. There's an inquisitive streak in the personalities of all these items, whether it's a walking pair of binoculars looking at the world around them, or a compass who always knows the way forward.

These illustrations have since gone on to be used on merchandise items as well, allowing the characters to find their way into the homes and daily lives of young Cub Scouts even when they aren't doing their Scouting.

Cubs Cola BottleCubs Happy ObjectsCubs Binoculars
Explorers BridgeExplorers PortraitExplorers Leader

Explorers (14–18) are more self-directed when it comes to their Scouting activities, and visually they're sophisticated young adults. This meant we could make illustrations more interpretive.

Working with a modular, energetic language of blocks and pieces allowed us to say a lot of different things using a consistent group of visual components. In context the images feel in keeping with the analytical and problem-solving capabilities of this age group.

This became less about pictures and characters, and more about diagrams, visual explanations to accompany nuanced ideas. We avoided generating these images in the computer because we wanted to preserve a visceral, physical tone to all of the communications. There's a deliberate feeling of 'action' in the mark-making.

Putting everything into the hands of Scouts

The Resources

Designed for sharing between two, the Beavers book reaches its 6-8 year old audience with character-led narrative.

Beavers 6

The book is about a group of friends who become Beaver Scouts and discover just how much fun and friendship awaits them.

Working with a brand new story provided by The Scout Association's creative team, we made sure the narrative was told through lots of visual detail as well as through dialogue and narration. Extra wide double-page spreads allow the beautiful illustrations to come alive in the reader's lap. The exra-wide format is perfect for sharing too.

Beavers Close Up
Beavers 3
Beavers 5
Beavers 7
Beavers 4

The book demonstrates how the characters earn their badges, helping readers to picture the process.

Characters Badges
Beavers Dark

At Cub Scout age the audience craves more information and illustrations turn a little more mischevious and fun.

Cubs 2
Cubs 4
Cubs 3
Cubs 6

We liked the idea of nodding to the tradition of the Scouting handbook, but we knew we'd need to make these slighter and lighter if they were to be practical; hence the pocket books.

The pocket book format lives on through Cubs, Scouts and Explorers resources, offering concise overviews of activities that each audience can try out. These can exist independently, but they also slot into the custom designed activity log folders, acting as a 'home' for all the content.

Cubs 5
Explorers 3

Explorers are the most mature level of Scouting, hence the move to a more interpretive and formal visual language.

Explorers 2

Plymouth College of Art

Blink Art