Branding & Marketing for the National College Comedy Festival
Creating a flexible identity for a comedy festival's next 25 years
The National College Comedy Festival, founded in 1989, was the first large gathering of college and professional comedy talent. For the past 25 years, ComFest has played host to some of the brightest college comedy talent in the country, alongside established and up-and-coming professional acts. As Co-Producer of the 2015 festival, I wanted to streamline and mature the festival’s identity to keep pace with its growing prominence in the up-and-coming comedy scene.
The festival’s main logo (left), used on all marketing for the festival uses an interlocking typographic approach creating an image appropriate for comedic environment, but one that doesn’t cross the border to “silly” territory.
Historically, the festival has been simply referred to as “ComFest”, with the actual full name relegated to limited printed material such as programs. The new logo returns to the festival’s roots, making the festival’s full name prominent while still highlighting the recognized “ComFest” name.
A secondary logo (right), for use only on public promotion of the annual event itself, provides a bolder, bouncier look for the poster and other applications seen at a distance. The main logo remains present on print collateral as a smaller entity representing the festival brand.
Instead of building out a fully custom website, which would have likely fallen into disrepair as the production changes hands annually, I created a fully custom tumblr theme that relies on the simple-to-use tumblr backend, without any coding knowledge needed. The website is fully responsive for optimal use on all sizes of devices and computers.
For the event promotional material – posters, apparel, programs, etc. – we knew we wanted to capitalize on the Valentine’s Day date, put a twist on a classic “comedy” symbol, or ideally, do both. Since most recognizable symbols of comedy have rather hacky connotations, the struggle was to make the image recognizable but not the same old thing everyone has been seeing for years.
I sketched many ideas including a snowman performing stand-up to a crowd of woodland creatures and a terrified heart running for his life from a hailstorm of Cupid’s arrows. The winner was a pair of rubber chickens, stabbed together in love with Cupid’s arrow.
I designed the logo and other identity elements with the knowledge that the design work for each festival would be done by a different person every year. Given that, I didn’t prescribe any color scheme or illustration style, just the logo and a typeface selection.
I’ve been pleased to see these brand elements be re-used and remixed by other designers to create different feelings for different years – all tied together by a consistent logo: