Music festivals are one of the most amazing ways to bring people together. The epic lineups, awesome beats, like-minded people, and atmosphere are what it’s all about. But when you’re a designer going to a music festival, your trained eye will also observe things like compelling branding, original design elements, and bright colors.
Don’t get us wrong, the lineup is still the main selling point, but having a powerful brand identity and showcasing a cohesive image will boost sales. With 147 million EDM festival tickets sold annually, one in seven Europeans having recently attended an EDM event, and the global EDM industry valued at approximately $7.1 billion, it is mandatory to stand out and have that extra bit of pizzazz if you want to sit at the table with the big names and get your piece of the pie.
Musical festival season is already in full swing, so let’s take a look at the best House and EDM music festivals that rule the scene every year to see what they do best and what they all have in common:
Every year, the California music festival kicks off the season, setting the tone and trends in the industry. With 700,000 attendees in 2018, and probably similar numbers in 2019 (statistics are not available yet), the festival is home to standout appearances from influencers and brands, as well as epic performances every year.
The poster announcing the 2019 Coachella lineup boasts bold, white fonts for the festival's musical acts, creating an impactful contrast with the ombre indigo gradient background. Although using a different set of colors, the website completes the vibe with pastel gradients too. The same chromatics, iconic palm trees, tropical desert imagery, and hand-lettered logo, were also on the welcome packages the guests received. The experience is completed by a variety of cool artwork in the same chromatics, that guests were able to take instagrammable photos with on-site.
What we love: It’s astounding how Coachella has managed to stay consistent in its poster design since 2003. They use almost the same layout, imagery, fonts, and hand-lettered logo every year, yet manage to give it an attractive, fresh look every time. Their brand identity is so powerful that even without seeing their logo or name, fans immediately know a Coachella poster when they see it.
Tomorrowland is “beyond a festival” – it’s actually Armin Van Buren himself that said it, after performing there a couple of years back. Every year, people from all over the world come to Boom, Belgium, with one mission in mind – to be part of the experience. We say experience because Tomorrowland is not just a music festival, but a well-told story wrapped in an emotional experience.
The festival’s brand identity has come a long way, not only in terms of lineup and execution but also in terms of consistent, well-established branding. They know their target audience very well and focus on hitting the highest levels of quality every time – spectacular shows, world-class DJs, and an exceptional festival-goer experience. They nail storytelling as the ultimate goal is emotional engagement.
What we love: We love many things about Tomorrowland, but if we had to pick two, the first would be the main stage, that’s redesigned every year and is one of the most-awaited and spectacular elements of the festival. A close second is the Tomorrowland Aftermovie, released every year after the festival is over. The latter manages to capture the whole experience and create an emotional resonance in participants as well as entices potential atendees to book tickets for next year.
Lollapalooza is one of the first modern music festivals to build a cohesive brand identity. Their posters’ looks have evolved over time, from amateurish to professionally-designed branding. Some of its trademark elements include quirky fonts and bright colors that are also incorporated into this year’s festival poster. They used white, all-caps fonts to present the 2019 lineup, perfectly contrasting with the simple black background. The festival name is written in the same funky font we're used to and gradient colors stand out between the black-and-white elements.
What we love: We love the look of their website that combines quirky fonts, all-caps typography, bold colors, artwork, and imagery that captures the attention. Everything is very well balanced, the sections are beautifully designed, and the white font perfectly contrasts the colorful backgrounds. All the elements create a cohesive, clean, and not-too-crowded visual aesthetic.
4. Electric Daisy Carnival
Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) is another big electric dance music festival that tours the world but stages its flagship perfromance in Las Vegas. EDC knows its fans and capitalizes on rave culture by incorporating bold electric colors, psychedelic imagery, geometric shapes, and patterns with a futuristic vibe into their brand identity. Their simple logo was redesigned a few years ago, and now uses a sans-serif font that changes colors depending on its usage. Their collaterals incorporate the same mix of geometric patterns and bright colors, and their website and social media pages keep a consistent look and feel.
What we love: We love that EDC has created a cohesive, brightly colored brand image that appeals to its audience perfectly.
Creamfields fits into the bright-colored, warm-toned spectrum we’ve already seen in previous festivals, but brings a new element into the mix – distinctively distorted images, including the logo. Other than that, they keep it simple on their website, social media pages, and lineup posters. Their sans-serif typography matches the fresh and youthful overall vibe of their brand image.
What we love: We dig their minimalistic approach, letting the festival photos and videos speak for themselves. Their wide-angle concert photos say more than any words could.
6. Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
After 15 years of changing the Bonnaroo every year, the festival organizers finally decided to adopt a new brand identity that would only get an annual refresh to match the year's theme. Creating a brand identity system that would stay relevant over the years was not easy, but they nailed it. They wanted to convey positivity and be inspirational and cool, but not pretentious. It's a tricky task, creating that feeling of a “once in a lifetime” experience, without upsetting their loyal returning fans. The result is impressive: a bright color palette that emphasizes the idea of movement, party, and fun with a mix of classic and modern fonts that allow for variation.
What we love: We like the refresh they gave their brand image this year. The brightly colored dripping paint contrasts well with the black background. The lineup alternates colors for the principal artists, while the rest is written in white to keep the poster clean and airy.
7. Sziget Festival
Nicknamed “the island of freedom,” Sziget is home to a festival that goes beyond music. It brings together the love for everything artistic, whether it’s culture, sports, or performing arts. While keeping the main chromatics and the sans-serif logo font, the festival has been reinventing itself year after year. For the 2019 festival, their website is brightly colored, but unlike other examples we’ve seen so far, it mixes warm and cool colors. Most of the text is white, to contrast with the colorful backgrounds and stand out.
What we love: We kind of love how they simplified the logo, yet maintained the idea of freedom and universality. The flag instantly brings to mind the big crowds waving enormous flags of different countries, all coming together in the name of music.
Sónar Barcelona comes to disrupt the list of brightly-colored websites, bold fonts, and mix of animations and imagery. Their website is pretty sober for a music festival. With a gray background and a black-and-white boxed layout, it looks more like an entertainment news website. The only thing that pops is their logo, which adds a touch of color on the screen. The same black, white, and gray combination can be found on their poster and other collaterals too.
What we love: We like how they keep the same logo, but change the date and background color every year. This way, their brand is undoubtedly recognizable, but still fresh and updated periodically.
9. Ultra Music Festival
Even though they celebrated 20 years of existence in 2018, the Ultra Music Festival brand identity is fresher and more energetic than ever. They’re also easily distinguishable from other big names on the list, as they have a more design-oriented look with industrial elements and a commercial vibe.
Their festival imagery on their social media platforms and website is cohesive, as they stick to crowd and stage photos that showcase their impressive light shows and fireworks.
What we love: We love looking at their evolution, design-wise. They’ve come a long way, and their brand identity has only improved and became more cohesive over time.
10. Electric Forest
Electric Forest has created an entire brand identity around its main differentiating element – its location. The festival takes place in the forest, so they managed to build a brand that combines elements of nature and EDM music. From the name that perfectly blends the two concepts to the color palette that includes shades of green and brown, combined with a modern, more metallic yellow, and the sans serif typeface, all these elements create harmony and cohesion between nature and music, which is the whole idea behind their branding.
What we love: We love the wood pattern they chose as a background for the logo. What a great way to incorporate the location element!
11. Untold Festival
Untold Festival is one of the new kids on the block. It’s also one of the cool kids that have put Romania back on the map for house and EDM music. From the beginning, Untold wanted to be a friendly artistic movement that would resonate with its equally young and energetic public. Each festival so far has been called a chapter, as part of a story that keeps unfolding and becomes more and more exciting. It is a story you don’t want to miss, as you're writing it together with everyone else, one chapter at a time.
What we love: They’ve developed this entire idea of a story wonderfully and have taken it to the next level with their posters, maze-like logo, stage design, and other branding elements. It’s also a modern tale they’re telling, that uses video-mapping, light shows, and attractive collaterals the fans are excited to show off.
We’re back to bright, electric colors! Not only has Paradiso Festival been growing steadily in its eight years of life, but 2019 is its fastest-selling year so far. The world-class names on the lineup have something to do with the festival’s popularity, but that’s not all. The festival has built a strong brand identity that appeals to its target audience. We see cool tones with a touch of warmer colors, neon fonts, sans serif typography, and an artistic reinterpretation of their trademark image depicting a beautiful paradise oasis.
What we love: The festival has a fresh feel, a bit of magic, and a brand image that evolves year by year. We love the digitalized music paradise imagery they created, just like our imagination would sketch it.
13. Nocturnal Wonderland
Again, we see a very cohesive brand image, where the festival name and the branding elements are in perfect sync. Their website, social media presence, lineup posters, and other collaterals are all about rich, vibrant colors, gradients, and a mix of inspiring festival imagery and modern artwork. For 2019, their central theme is inspired by Alice in Wonderland. (Although the lineup posters are out, the website hasn’t been refreshed yet.)
What we love: The blue, violet, pink, and yellow color combination looks so good, and we love that they've kept it over the years, yet found a way to refresh the graphics and theme every time. Plus, their gradient logo looks pretty cool too!
14. Imagine Music Festival
The Imagine Music Festival branding for 2019 depicts the abundant ocean waters with their rich and diverse aquatic life, many secrets, and hidden treasures. Although it’s the third year they've done an aquatic theme, their brand identity has gotten stronger over time. They have redesigned their logo, keeping the modern sans-serif font, but going back to the festival’s original name instead of the “IMF” acronym, and adding an easily recognizable logo mark as well. Their social media presence is filled with festival imagery boasting the vibe, fireworks, lasers, and other production elements, highlighting what the festival is all about.
What we love: Their website looks fresh and clean. It also features some pretty cool interactive animations that are consistent with the festival's brand identity and the aquatic theme.
15. Lights All Night
The Lights All Night website is the digital equivalent of the live festival’s atmosphere, while the little human characters are a portrait of the festival's audience - fun, vibrant, and full of energy. The festival created their brand identity around the concept of light. Over the years, the idea has seen many interpretations, usually through a logo looking as if it was lit up. Their current brand identity gives the whole concept a more modern understanding. We have a dark blue background on the website and a blue-violet gradient on the poster, both resembling a night sky. The logo boasts a 3D font and a neon color, as if it were lit, while the rest of the font is contrasting white.
What we love: We love that they still have the 2018 website up, and that the 2019 homepage is a cleaner, more airy version of the previous one, but they kept the fun human characters.
As these are the most prominent festival names in the house and EDM music industry, they all have a strong brand identity and a compelling brand image. But what are the common elements these powerful brand identities share?
1. They constantly reinvent themselves
One of the most striking elements is the fact that they all know their audience in depth, but they also acknowledge the need to reinvent themselves with each festival edition. They manage to keep a consistent brand image, be relevant to new audiences, and still stay loyal to returning fans.
As far as colors go, we have it all from bold, saturated colors to mellow pastels and monochromatic black and white. In term of color choices, we’ve seen everything from cool tones (Sziget, Paradiso, Imagine Music Festival) to warm tones (Coachella, Creamfields), gradients (Coachella, Lights All Night), and the principal trend this year – blue and violet gradients and color combinations (Lights All Night, Nocturnal Wonderland).
Fonts are probably the most eye-catching branding element in music festivals. The first thing we check out is the lineup – so there they are; the festival website – they’re there too; social collateral – fonts here, again. So it’s very important they’re legible; it’s why many festivals prefer all-caps fonts or fonts contrasting against the background. Sans-serif type is still dominating the festival branding scene, but some more quirky fonts can also help a brand express its personality better if incorporated right (Coachella).
More and more people are going to festivals for the overall experience, which goes beyond a world-class lineup. It’s more about the atmosphere, the people, and show elements like laser and fireworks. It’s why a music festival will never go wrong with high-quality images of light shows (Creamfields, Electric Forest), iconic stages (Tomorrowland), or fireworks and crowds (Untold). Illustrations continue to be a hit, especially original human characters like those included in the Lights All Night’s festival branding.
5. Social media presence
Music festivals nowadays sell mainly an idea, an experience. Having a strong social media presence that’s cohesive with the rest of the brand elements is crucial, as that’s the place to meet and interact with your audience (especially in the case of festivals, where the target audience is a younger demographic). Having a festival hashtag every year will offer both attendees and brands the chance to tag your festival page in their posts, and your engagement and brand awareness will increase organically and exponentially.
6. Great website design
A well-designed website is a festival’s business card. It is the first place your audience checks to see the lineup and find out more about the upcoming festival edition. It’s only natural your website evolves together with your brand image and contributes to a cohesive experience. That means giving it a refresh and redesign every year. With that in mind, it’s essential to have it done right the first time, to make the process smooth every time. In case you need a skilled designer to help you build your website from scratch or give it a quick refresh, our young, resourceful, and talented graphic designers are ready to get their creativity wheels moving and help you turn your ideas into reality.
You can also outsource the entire process to us, as we have inspired wordsmiths and super focused project managers who are dedicated to helping you create a compelling brand identity.
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