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Is the Landscape Institute a Brand?

Thomas Turner

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Is the Landscape Institute a Brand? No. Should it be a brand? No.

Professional  bodies, like the LI, the RIBA, the Law Society and the Institute of Accountants possess some but not all of the characteristics of a brand. They certainly strive to build a  reputation, communicate their values, and engage with their stakeholders, but their primary focus remains on regulating and upholding professional standards rather than driving commercial profits. Considerations re professional bodies:

  • Non-commercial focus: Their primary purpose is not to generate profit or sell products, but to regulate and uphold professional standards.
  • Limited autonomy: Their activities are often governed by government regulations and public scrutiny, restricting their branding freedom.
  • Diverse audience: They cater to a broad range of members with varying needs and interests, making it challenging to create a uniform brand message.
  • Focus on ethics and conduct: Their emphasis on ethics and professional conduct might seem incompatible with commercial brand marketing tactics.


Edited by Thomas Turner
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it certainly has a very confused identity, it states it is an education charity: it isn't. its members are predominantly landscape architects but it denies the title, and prefers "landscape professionals: it is supposed to be a membership charity but it takes away money from the branches and denies them financial autonomy. One could go on and on and on...

Edited by Robert Holden
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  • 4 weeks later...

I went on and on... in my response to the branding exercise:

The Landscape Institute is ineffectual and no longer acts as a member organisation. The 2023 appointments of officers involved no election. Funds from the branches have been taken away from them. Look at branch websites and you find nothing but events from years ago. The branches are impeded in what they can do and have no financial independence. 

The Institute holds no annual conference and has no  all-membership social media facility: LI Connect has 405 members (8 Feb. 2024).  Indeed LI Connect's predecessor Talking Landscapes was more available to members and had a vital function in enabling those on the Pathway to Chartership to communicate with their fellows. LI Connect has failed to involve those seeking Chartered status (who were primary users of Talking Landscapes). 

Education policy is in disarray, what support was there for the University of Sheffield Department before its recent take over by the Architecture School, yet this was a Department of Landscape with an international reputation? SCHOLA is highly critical of the Landscape Institute for its failing to support landscape schools. Indeed the Institute is undermining the conversion Masters courses by allowing those with a accredited Bachelor degree  and three years experience to become Associate Members, so undermining the hard fought efforts of the Institute in the 1960s and 1970s to require a four year higher F/T education (Bachelors + Diploma/ Masters)  entry to the profession. The Institute has failed to establish Bachelors and Masters apprenticeship entry (compare the RIBA or other development professions). The Institute has failed to promote landscape science, landscape management, landscape planning and urban design membership. Indeed it scrapped its education based ‘divisions”.

The Institute continues to perform well below its weight and totally below its potential. Its governance is lamentable. Officers regularly ignore its own Regulations and By-Laws. The Northern Ireland branch has not existed for some years but still has a branch representative on Council. But then we are told the Branch reps don’t represent the views of branch committees. So whose views do they represent? Can they write directly to all branch members: no. Indeed branches do not even have as members the majority of LI members in their area.

The Institute has lost its corporate memory: certainly among the staff, who regularly come and go. Project Kestrel is vaunted as a game changing digital upgrade; yet the same words were used about the previous digital upgrade in the years leading upto 2019. So why are the present digital services so poor, Initiatives such as the Public Sector Working Group were ended in 2220 at the diktat of the then CEO. The Institute is failing to support the treasure which is its library and archive collections at The MERL University of Reading. ASLA (the American Society of Landscape Architects) has student chapters (=branches) based in universities, the Landscape Institute has scrapped its regular student council (SLIC Student Landscape Institute Council).

The Institute is losing money, as if there is no tomorrow.                                                                     

In short loads of potential being squandered by excluding the membership, by unwise spending, by secrecy and by disfunction. The latest Advisory Council minute  available on 8 February 2023 is for a meeting of 21 February 2023 Of the four Board meetings in 2023 there are confidential sections in two of the three meeting minutes available on 8 February 2023. No minutes of standing committee meetings, indeed no list of standing committee members. One could go on. The institute should foster debate and critique, as a professional institute it appears to fear debate and critique. As for its finances. At the present rate one anticipates the bankruptcy of the Landscape Institute before its centenary in 2029.

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