Behind the Scenes: Branding a Start-Up Music Festival
(Note: This post was originally on Say Hello To the City)
Brooke Summers is the founder of design studio, Craft + Curate. She’s also the brains behind Hinterland’s stellar creative team. We chatted about her creative journey, as well as how she crafted the festival’s aesthetic.
Hinterland has a really particular aesthetic when it comes to branding. How did you settle on that?
I wish I could say the creative was built completely intentionally, but in reality it was tinkering with a bunch of bad ideas until one felt right.
When we first branded the festival, Hinterland was basically a different event. We initially had planned for Hinterland to take place in the heart of Des Moines. One massive flood later, we were forced to move out to the Iowa countryside a week before the event. It was really difficult at the time because we had to re-do everything we had worked on for an entire year. There was a lot of stress building up to the festival, but it actually turned out to be amazing. Being out in Saint Charles, the skylines were insane. It was MAGIC.
Moving forward from year one, Hinterland was still the same at its core—an intersection of music genres/ city and nature. We were confident of our message as a brand and didn't feel the need to convince anyone that we were legitimate. We decided to move forward celebrating what made us different instead of trying to fit in with other festivals.
When I was re-working the creative, I was completely obsessed with the photos of the performance space. The Iowa country skyline looked so cool behind the stage and there was this amazing energy. We wanted a slightly more modern, minimal aesthetic that stood out from your typical "festival" look. The color gradients reflect Iowa sunsets in a really cool way and when you're at the festival, you can see that the sun sets with the same colors as the graphics.
As the festival gains prominence, I imagine that branding becomes more and more important. What's the process like when it comes to keeping everything cohesive?
I have built out a core brand foundation, but I still like to experiment every year with the ways I can push new designs within the guidelines. I never want it to get stale! This really is a labor of love and I'm mostly just make things that I think look cool.
We have also built a team that we really trust. It's so nice to be able to delegate things like shooting the merch photos (studio preservation) and website development (nownow). Hinterland is a massive operation and we're lucky to have a good core group of people who understand the vision.
It has been so fun to see Hinterland grow year after year. What do you think it is that resonates with fans?
I think the festival grows because it's created from a truly authentic place. Every element has been pieced together out of true consideration for the attendee. From the start we've tried to cut the typical festival bullshit—we have a single stage, diverse curated lineup, transparent lineup announcements, and a welcoming environment. The team is just building an event they'd like to attend.
I enjoyed reading your takeaways from Alt Summit! Your first piece of advice was for people to "just start" and not wait to take the plunge into their dreams. What are some practical steps that people can take to make that jump a little bit easier?
I'm a big believer in the power of manifestation. Lack of time, education, or experience can be excuses we allow to stand in the way of change. My advice is to just start! Starting a business is really just taking a step forward and then continuing to take another step forward every. single. day. Just go for it and be ready to learn and make mistakes.
My advice for anyone wanting to make a big change is to take baby steps. Want to be your own boss? Start taking work on the side and build up your clientele—don't jump immediately to creating a business model that your current workload can't support. Allow yourself to start slow and work hard to constantly evolve yourself. I worked day and night until it was no longer sustainable before I went out on my own.
I think people see a lot of peoples highlights of success and don't see the hard work and grind it took to get there. It's totally o-k and normal to start small and to not have it all figured out. Most people don't!
Hey, I’m Brooke!
I’m a type obsessed designer + business hype girl. I love traveling, hoarding beauty products, and a good matcha latte. My passion is empowering innovators to craft a business of their dreams and curate a more beautiful life.