I’ve been to a few music festivals in my time and apart from dancing until my feet went numb, repeatedly losing my voice and watching the sun come up to some incredible artists, festivals have become a whole new type of creative immersion for me and I’ll tell you why.
Have you ever noticed just how many graphic elements there are? And I’m not just talking about flyers. From the conception of the event, right up until the hangover the next day, your 2-4 day fantastical musical extravaganza, is being formed by many different graphic elements. There are the tickets, the beer tokens, posters, flyers, custom T-shirts, badges, and goodness knows what else and that is just to get started. It got me thinking… how difficult it must be to design and organise all of these different elements in order to make the event work. That goes for general event planning too, ok so you’re probably not about the organise the next Glastonbury, but it would be cool if your little event went that well, right?
Don’t just slap on a logo: Graphics for events
So my theory is this: if it’s not about the line-up, it’s all about the graphics. Here are some tips and observations to be sure that your event is looking good. I’ve also included some examples of event branding to whet your taste buds and remember, first impressions are everything – be beautiful.
Step 1: What graphics already exist?
Basically what we’re talking about is branding. Your event should portray the same message through all of its correspondence. If you use a massive yellow circle on your main poster, I want to see that circle everywhere. It should be coherent, recognisable and easily understood by your target audience. Is the event related to a business? Does the business have a logo? Or is the event itself trying to generate an identity for itself? Is it a one-off event, or will there be more?
Cull Jazz Festival Branding by David Massara massaradavid.com
Step 2: Who are you communicating with?
Who is your target audience? It’s not the same organising a biology conference for a group of academics as it is to arrange a birthday party for your granny. You’ve got to think – who am I trying to reach with my event? What is the best way to visually communicate with this type of target? Are you going to need to use the internet to spread the word or will a few black and white photocopies on a lamppost do the job?
Teatre CCCB by Hey Studio at heystudio.es
Step 3: Colours
Are you working with corporate colours? What is your printing budget (maybe you only need to use one colour or grayscale to save on printing costs)? When considering the colour palette for your event, you’ll need to take into consideration any already existing logos, to make sure that they will work with the new tones.
There are some great resources on the internet that can help you to come up with a colour scheme for your branding. Try Adobe Color CC (formerly known as Kuler), Design Seeds or Canva Colors for inspiration. You’ll also need to make sure that the brand colours are visible everywhere, this will help give identity to your event and make it recognisable. i.e. Don’t make the posters blue and your roll ups luminous pink, or your potential guests won’t link the two.
Step 4: Typography
Are you going to be producing a lot of printed material? Will you have elements that are heavy in text content? Remember that if you’re going to be producing a lot of reading material, you may need a font with serifs to improve legibility. Google fonts have a great range of free downloadable fonts to get you started, which are free to use and open source (which means that you can customise them to meet your needs.) It also goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway…check for spelling mistakes and typos, nothing looks less professional than a flyer with an error on it.
The British Independent Film Festival at byalphabet.com
Step 5: What printed graphic elements do you actually need?
I use the music festival as an example because I think it’s one of the most complete event categories in terms of possible graphic implementations, but the advice on this post should work for any occasion. Below is a downloadable list of possible applications, which you can adapt to suit the needs of your event. If your branding works well, then you will be able to apply it to all of the following supports in one way or another.
10 Day Fest 2015 by Jim Wong at gd-morning.org/jim
Step 6: The printers
This requires the most planning. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it can take to print your designs. If you can organise it well in advance with your printers, you’ll save loads of cash and nerve cells. Ideally allow around 2 weeks for delivery of bulk orders of T-shirts to save the pennies, for example.
The Latin American Design Festival by IS Creative Studio at iscreativestudio.com
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