The Residential Tenancies Board

The RTB serves both landlords and tenants, providing an impartial support service to both groups. The organisation navigates a complex space between the parties — often as a means to resolve conflict or wrongdoing.

Working in that space gives the imperative for the RTB to have a distinctive voice. As an organisation serving both sides, the RTB needs to be defined in its own right, outside of the disputes that it mediates. On top of that, delivery times for comms are typically tight, and output is closely watched by the media and public. Lastly, the area is complex and opinions about it are strong, so the RTB must address this in how it communicates.

Given the practical needs of the brief, we formed an opinion that an approach based in illustration could work well. It could give us the more distinctive look, and allow to communicate about complex and messy ideas with a friendly and direct tone.

So, we created a system where a designer working for the RTB could quickly generate brand illustrations, at any size or shape, without any new software or training. The illustrations are all representations of the home. Homes are the shared space between the landlord and tenant. For landlords they are a source of revenue; for tenants, a place to live.

The system uses a modular set of building blocks, stored and distributed as characters in a set of typefaces. Details, scene elements and backgrounds are stored as typeface weights. The familiar format encourages play and the outcomes all feel on-brand by definition. Pattern elements, an isometric version of the images and a framing device for showing photography are also made using custom typefaces. The outcomes allows for almost endless flexibility, speed and consistency.

Another defining challenge in the work was the need to speak to a hugely varied and wide audience. We refined the RTB’s colour palette with accessibility in mind, both in print and on screen. This new approach allows us to build recognition without compromising understanding and clarity for all audiences. We also developed a practical tone of voice approach for the organisation’s written correspondence with clients in all contexts.

The elements (colour, layout, image, type, language) combine to give a sense of an RTB with a clearer more distinct voice. The tone is friendly, informed and approachable, and accessible to all.