Helping hand: Puncture Design’s identity for SafeFest is led by a universal symbol, imagined afresh
The visual landscape at any music festival can often feel pretty packed and dense, so when it came to designing an identity for SafeFest – a brand new team dedicated to creating a safe space for festival patrons, by providing an additional resource that isn’t medical or security – Puncture Design knew it had to craft something that could stand out in the crowd. The Toronto-based studio was commissioned by the management and production company, C3 Presents, to meet this challenge.
To capture the essence of a friendly, accessible on-ground team who could point you towards a gig you’re looking for, or help you find the nearest hydration station, the team designed the raised hand – a symbol that’s at once crisp, effective, and immediately recognisable. Its universality also helps, allowing the identity to travel effortlessly to other countries and cultures in the future. A raised hand hints ‘at a need for help, wanting attention, or having a question.’ The gesture – that’s both intuitive and can be understood quickly – doubles up as the mascot of the brand, but also, doesn’t take itself too seriously. Cleverly, it has been turned into different hand gestures across the identity system, underscoring the approachability of the SafeFest team.
“We had different versions of ‘the hand’ in our designs. We tried some that looked quite realistic, and others that were more like cartoons,” notes Spencer Cathcart, Co-founder & Creative Director at Puncture Design. “In the end, we chose a hand that fell somewhere in between. Then, we leaned on motion design to give the hand its true personality.” The system was completed with a bright neon safety yellow, “meant to draw attention from a distance, in the dark, or under impairment,” and punchy typography set in Neue Kabel, which, although a bit unconventional for the task, caught the team’s attention.
“It was crucial to use an Adobe font for the typeface. We wanted the many hands involved in various festivals, including volunteers, to easily use and access this font,” recalls Cathcart. As the team experimented, they arrived at a few other similar fonts that looked good, and seemed to fit even better. “However, the more they fit, the less they stood out,” notes Cathcart. “Kabel struck the right balance of being friendly, approachable, and strong. It gets your attention without being bossy. Plus, it was also interesting to us that the typeface is close to a 100 years old.” Ultimately, the different elements which come together to form the identity – from the symbols, the eye-catching colour to the typography – meet the brief with a flourish, resulting in a system that’s both striking and hard-to-miss.