Scaling new heights

In early 2017 QUO was presented with the opportunity to undertake one of its most multi-faceted and fascinating projects in Vietnam to date. The job? To assist in the brand development of a mountain in Northern Vietnam.

This wasn’t just any mountain. It was Yen Tu Mountain, a beautiful 1,068-metre peak just an hour from the Ha Long Bay UNESCO World Heritage Site. Set amid the jungle-clad mountains of Northern Vietnam, Yen Tu Mountain is steeped in history and remains a spiritual home for many Vietnamese people.

Almost 2 million pilgrims climb Yen Tu Mountain’s slopes each year while exploring the historical sites, ancients pagodas, the legacy of King Tran Nhan Tong and the pristine natural beauty of the mountainside.

Yen Tu Mountain

The slopes of Yen Tu Mountain are dotted with fascinating historical insights and ancient architectural masterpieces.


First steps

Preparing Yen Tu Mountain for the World

The challenge for QUO was to develop Yen Tu Mountain into a modern and accessible brand ahead of its introduction to the global tourist market while staying faithful to its historical and spiritual roots. Central to the rebooted Yen Tu experience was the creation of Hanh Huong Yen Tu Village at the base of the mountain – a Bill Bensley-designed cultural complex inspired by ancient building methods and 13th-century Vietnamese architecture.

The expansive new complex is home to a faithfully recreated Vietnamese village centre, hostel-style lodge accommodation, an MGallery Hotel (due to open this summer), a choice of dining venues, a Buddhist prayer hall and indoor and outdoor events spaces.

Yen Tu Mountain

Dong Pagoda, Yen Tu Mountain Vietnam

Building a new image for Yen Tu Mountain wasn’t a complete ground-up job for QUO. The brand already existed and the destination and its cable car system were already attracting well over a million visitors per year. However, most of these were Vietnamese travellers drawn by Yen Tu Mountain’s historical and spiritual significance.

QUO’s job was to tap into Yen Tu’s significantly wider appeal, making it attractive to younger Vietnamese eager to explore their roots, and adventurous international visitors from East Asia and the West who want to discover something exciting and new. The logic was that millions of visitors were already passing right by Yen Tu Mountain as they made their way to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi. Once they were made aware of the beauty of Yen Tu Mountain and the experiences to be found there, they would be more than eager to visit.

Yen Tu Mountain Cable Car.

Yen Tu Mountain is home to four cable car systems that take visitors from its base to just below the summit.


Strategy and Brand Culture

A Captivating Window into History

QUO’s brand team worked with Yen Tu Mountain management and staff over a number of months to create a finely honed brand strategy that would serve as the bedrock for the destination’s new identity. Taking the destination’s existing tagline – ‘Journey to your essence’ – as a starting point, our brand team developed four key brand traits that reflected the history, spirituality and natural beauty of Yen Tu Mountain: Living Heritage, Natural Calm, Spiritual Journey and An Inspiring Legacy.

Visual Identity

A Tale of Old and New

In keeping with the project’s goal of combining old and new elements in the creation of the brand’s new identity, the mark from the old logo was integrated into the new logo design. It was agreed that the layered bodhi leaf-shaped mark perfectly communicated the spirituality and the sense of inner journey that are so central to the Yen Tu experience.
Yen Tu Mountain logo

Yen Tu Mountain logo

The ‘Journey to your essence’ tagline was also retained, while QUO designed a completely new font for the logo and the letterform to be used in all of  the brand’s copy. The letterform keeps many of the design elements and accents from the Vietnamese alphabet while adding distinctive flourishes – such as the curves of the capital ‘T’ – which reflect the architectural design found throughout Yen Tu.


Collateral

QUO will be working with Yen Tu Mountain in the coming months to support it as establishes itself as a major international tourist destination. From the simplest elements such as stationary and business cards to intricate trade fair booths and on-site signage, QUO will implement Yen Tu Mountain’s distinctive visual identity across all its assets and collateral.

 

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Brand Voice

Giving the Mountain a Voice

When developing a new brand voice for Yen Tu Mountain, we asked ourselves what such a mountain would sound like if it could speak? What if it could whisper secrets in the rustle of leaves? Share its wisdom through its worn stone pathways? Sing songs in the trickle of a stream, gently revealing the ancient mysteries of its mist-shrouded slopes?

This is the feeling we sought to convey in Yen Tu Mountain’s voice. We developed an extensive guide to help copywriters achieve this in their writing – from tips on creating intrigue to how to bring the mountain’s natural elements to life through onomatopoeia and other literary techniques. The result is a soothing, relaxing voice that echoes the hushed tranquility of the destination.
Hanh Huong Yen Tu Village

An artist’s impression of the new Hanh Huong Yen Tu Village cultural complex at the foot of Yen Tu Mountain.


Next Steps

The introduction of Yen Tu Mountain to the wider world will begin at the Hana Tour International Travel Show 2018 in Seoul, South Korea next month. Designed by QUO, Yen Tu Mountain’s unique booth will introduce prospective partners and visitors to the many facets of Yen Tu, the first step on its journey from a domestic destination to a truly international name.

Over the coming months QUO will continue to work with Yen Tu Mountain in the creation of a number of vital assets for the brand, including a new brochure, a website and a promotional video. Watch this space for more on QUO’s Yen Tu Mountain adventure.