Bigfish’s joyful identity for Brisbane Festival 2022 marks the return of the city’s iconic event
In a euphoric explosion of colour, Bigfish have developed a confident and celebratory identity for the 2022 edition of the Brisbane Festival – embodying the pent-up energy of a festival returning after years of restrictions. Mixing the high and the low, the city’s most anticipated event of the year thrives on a tension between highly creative contemporary art and mainstream family engagement – with something for everyone but never one size fits all.
The team at the Brisbane-based agency were tasked with the complex challenge of visually representing the festival’s broad offering. Opting for a flexible approach, they developed a highly adaptable system centred around an extensive colour palette, and elements that shift and re-shape through an endless variety of moods and executions.
As Brisbane Festival has long been the ‘festival of pink,’ Bigfish aimed to continue this tradition, however, they quickly realised that a singular palette wouldn’t be enough to portray the diverse range of experiences on offer. As Creative Director Dave Byrne explains, “we decided to create a series of mini palettes that work in isolation rather than being mixed,” landing on 14 individual colours that compliment the brand’s pink, with each then having five different shades. The result? An impressive 70-colour palette broken up into 14 mini palettes.
“Each event was then assigned a mini palette with the key rule being not to mix and match,” Byrne tells us. “This one key colour rule has allowed each show to have its own mood and also removed the risk of any strange combinations of colours being picked during the rollout of the campaign.” The whole palette is brought together in a few rare, yet powerful instances. One of these is the brand ‘firework’ illustration that stands out boldly against the more restrained use of colour throughout the rest of the identity.
Anchoring the identity’s design is Florian Karsten’s FK Display, a typeface Bryne had in mind “before even starting the design.” Both memorable and neutral, the team felt that this was a fitting choice to showcase the mix of events without feeling ‘over-designed.’ “We were drawn to FK Display (the Alt version specifically) because of its subtle quirks, particularly in the capital ‘N’ and ‘V’ where it protrudes a little deeper than expected in the letterform,” Byrne notes. As Brisbane is a river city, the team also liked the tie-in to the sharp bends of the river whilst adding a level of detail that goes beyond a standard sans serif.
Moving away from the festival’s previous ‘B’ logo, Bigfish opted for a strong wordmark that’s interesting enough to carry the festival’s identity. As ‘Brisbane’ and ‘Festival’ are similar lengths, stacking them proved to be blocky and awkward. “The idea of the mirroring came from playing with splitting ‘Brisbane’ and ‘Festival’ apart and using them on opposite corners of the page, one running down the page, one running up,” Bryne recalls, adding that the team loved the flexibility and frame-like layout. “This way the logo can adapt to the creative and feel more natural and integrated,” he continues, “ not just a logo in the top left corner – the website is a great example of this.”
While this works well for layouts, the identity was still in need of an official ‘logo,’ so the studio took the two words running in different directions and pushed them together, with ‘Festival’ running upside down under ‘Brisbane.’ “While more a happy design accident than anything originally intended,” Bryne reveals, “it does have some nice conceptual tie-ins to Brisbane's North/South river divide (and some classic rivals that come with it), and Brisbane Festival spanning and uniting both sides of the river,” he concludes.