It seems like these days, everybody wants to throw a festival. There’s good reason — according to Billboard, over 32 million people go to at least one music festival every year. 10.7 million of those folks (about one third) go to more than one festival every year. That’s why earlier this year, Vendini collaborated with Tucker Gumber, aka “The Festival Guy,” and other industry experts to create the Festival Thrower’s Bible. In our eyes, a high tide rises all boats — in a world where all festivals are better, everybody wins. And it all starts with festival branding.
With this influx of interest, there are more festivals now than ever before — meaning that branding is more important than ever. There are over 10,000 music festivals alone, more than 3,000 food and wine festivals, and countless others. It’s a billion dollar industry; EDM festivals alone rake in over $4 billion dollars annually. It’s no wonder that so many people are trying to get in on the action — not just for to make a buck, but to make a name for themselves, or even just to organize a fun event for people in their community.
How can you build festival branding? Start with your audience
Your very first step — before you ever call the bank, your friend, or an artist — is to identify your brand and, more importantly, your audience. Without this information, your festival can feel aimless and misguided.. When that happens, it can be hard (read: nearly impossible) to create an environment that warrants return attendees. Say goodbye to your Super Fans.
So the question is…
Determining your target audience is the first step to making your festival a reality. Who is it that you’re trying to attract? Who do you want advocating for your festival? Is it old hippies? Young ravers? Foodies? Art lovers? Most people would say they want everyone to come to their festival, but that simply isn’t how business works. Everyone has a target demographic, so your festival needs one, too. Pick a demographic (even if it might be a few different types of people) and stick to it. Let that demographic inform your lineup, your budget, your art installations…everything. You need to be thinking beyond the kind of music your ideal festival goer listens to. Things like age, location, income and even marital status should be taken into consideration.
Where do you even start?
Once you’ve nailed down your target demographic, you need to start asking yourself the practical questions (many of which can find right here). Who’s going to pay for your services? How did your competitors get started? Any advice that applies to startup businesses is absolutely applicable to your festival. Don’t forget — you are running a business!
After you’ve sorted out the logistics, it’s time for the really fun, creative stuff: your festival’s name and logo.
What should we call ourselves?
If you think you already have the name for your festival — stop! There are a few incredibly important things to think about before selecting your name, even if the one you had in mind is hilarious / epic / unbeatable.
Before you carve that name in stone, there are a few things to consider that can make all the difference. The same can be said for your logo. You want your branding to be concise, uncomplicated and able to stand apart from the crowd.
But how do you know if your logo will work? Lucky for you, there are a few tests (which you can learn more about in The Festival Thrower’s Bible):
The T-Shirt Test: Would it look good on a shirt?
Merchandise is a crucial part of your event. Not only does it make up a portion of your festival’s revenue, but it also acts as strong marketing material. If your patrons think your t-shirt is cool, they’ll buy it. They’ll wear it to a concert with other like-minded fans who will see that shirt and think, “Man…what a cool shirt. How was that festival?”
Boom. Instant marketing.
So when designing your logo and name, think about the t-shirts. Would you wear a t-shirt with this logo? More importantly, would your fans? Make sure that your logo, festival name and any other branding you have look good on a t-shirt. If it’s awkward, oddly shaped, etc., consider tweaking it. Take into consideration how your lineup might look on the back of a shirt, and use the same color scheme and fonts for that as well. You don’t want your effort (and artwork) to go unnoticed (or your merchandise unbought).
The Wristband Test: Would it look good on a wristband?
Most wristbands have edges that measure about 400 x 18 mm. The “safe art zone” is around 380 x 14 mm. If you have some design chops, give it a try and see what you can do!
If your name and logo are recognizable on a small wristband, that wristband acts as marketing not only while folks are at your festival, but in some cases, long after. Some people take these bands and save them as keepsakes, sew them into clothes, wear them to impress their friends or express their tastes in music…you’d be surprised how much fans like these things.
The Tattoo Test: Would it look cool as a tattoo?
It might sound crazy, but you’d be surprised how many Bonnaroo, Glastonbury and Coachella tattoos there are out there. If your logo is interesting enough to become someone’s “forever stamp,” then you’re probably on the right path.
What’s your voice?
Once you have these (very big) details locked down, it’s time to determine your voice – the way you communicate with your patrons. Your branding extends far beyond your name and logo. Besides making sure your website delivers an amazing experience (it’s your first point of contact with prospective patrons, after all), you want to get your tone of voice down pat. If your audience is young EDM fans, don’t write in stuffy business terms. If your audience is older bluegrass fans, you might want to drop some of the millennial slang and get to the point.
Before you start doing a lick of planning, ask yourself these five questions:
- Who’s coming to your festival?
- Will your logo and name look good on a t-shirt?
- How about a wristband?
- Is your logo awesome enough for someone to get it tattooed on themselves?
- What’s your voice?
Interested in learning more about your festival’s brand? Visit www.kickassfestivals.com to download the ebook!