Since launching in 2014, Graphic Design Festival Scotland (GDFS) has quickly become one of the world’s go-to events to meet, listen to and learn from some of the world’s best international graphic design talent. To mark half a decade of GDFS, Warriors Studio and Cause & Effect collaborated to create an identity that celebrates the festival becoming a rambunctious five-year-old. Throwing a party for a festival reaching half of a century felt quite playful and naive, but also bold and confident in contrast with previous concepts.

Balloons became a central visual motif, which were combined with various objects that represent a five-year-old’s birthday party. Illustrations of birthday badges, jelly, party horns, paper hats, streamers and more formed the basis of the identity’s artwork and became vehicles for sharing information, like announcing speakers.

These were also activated physically at the event. The programme guide was designed like a birthday card, the festival was adorned with balloons, guests received ‘party’ tote bags, streamers were popped to celebrate the launch, and a balloon artist even worked his magic in the identity’s colour palette for those attending.

With such a playful concept, a palette of black, grey, white and silver offered a more serious and refined aesthetic that contrasted throughout the identity.
The invites, website, posters, screen-printed helium balloons and other collateral all feature Swiss Typefaces’ Suisse family as the predominant typeface, supported by Max R Kaufmann’s Balloon font and Sharp Type’s Ogg – reflecting the strangeness of the relationship between the concept and visual direction.

With an audience so visually literate and able to decode design and communication languages, we could really play with the tension between practicality and aesthetic. We know this direction would divide opinion, which was exactly our intention.
The brand identity, concept and website was featured, reviewed and celebrated across the creative industry – leaving to a sold-out festival with over 24,000 attending. It featured in the likes of It’s Nice That, Creative Review, American Institute of Graphic Arts, The Skinny, Event Scotland, Typeroom and Neon Moire.


“The 2018 identity feels reasoned and accomplished in its design, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Graphic Design Festival Scotland
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Graphic Design Festival Scotland

Event branding and design assets for Graphic Design Festival Scotland
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