EDIT’s new identity for Hay Festival Global better evokes its 21st-century mission

A British institution, The Hay Festival has transformed over the years from a local books event to a global celebration of multifaceted culture. Now, a fresh identity, designed by EDIT Brand Studio, has been launched to better convey what Hay is about today.

If you haven’t been to the Hay Festival Global, you’re probably still vaguely aware of it because this long-running and much-loved British institution is at the heart of what might be ‘Radio 4 culture’.

Previously known as the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, the event was founded in 1988 and continues to be held annually in the book town of Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales, for ten days from May to June. It was described by President Bill Clinton as “The Woodstock of the mind”, while veteran Labour MP Tony Benn once said: “In my mind, it’s replaced Christmas”.

Originally focused on books, the festival has expanded over the years to include musical performances and film previews. It also now runs events and projects all over the world.

Some of the world’s greatest writers, thinkers and performers have taken to its stages over the years, including Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, Alice Walker, Jimmy Carter, Zadie Smith, Stormzy, Martin Amis, Paul McCartney, Desmond Tutu and Jane Fonda.

Over the past year, Hay Festival has delivered 12 editions in seven countries: Colombia, Peru, the USA, Mexico, Spain, Ukraine and the UK. A total of 1,111 individual events featured 2,018 artists, with 315,395 tickets sold and 6.7 million web views. Meanwhile, year-round education and outreach programmes reached 15,081 school pupils.

Now, Hay Festival Global is launching a new identity, designed by Manchester-based EDIT Brand Studio. The new identity unifies the charity’s multiple editions, projects and social purpose under a core brand, highlighting its internationalism and impact.

Brand concept

The identity has been designed to broaden the organisation’s reach and people’s understanding of it. The aim is to convey that the festival is now about more than literature and also spans the worlds of art, science, politics, music and comedy.

Hay Festival’s new brand idea – led by the phrase “a world of different” – clearly expresses this purpose, inviting people into a world of different stories, ideas and new possibilities. It helps to convey that the festival brings together diverse voices to listen, talk, debate and create, tackling some of the world’s biggest political, social and environmental challenges.

Graphic elements

The new visual identity is inspired by the festival’s literary roots. And so the dynamic, multi-layered logo reflects the organisation’s many different “chapters”, including its festivals, forums, events, digital platforms and educational programmes worldwide.

The logo is also rotating to highlight the organisation’s global reach. In fact, it’s positioned on the same 23.5-degree angle as the Earth’s rotation axis.

Meanwhile, the colour palette is inspired by the idea of ‘a world of colour’. It’s been designed to allow individual countries to have their own six-colour palette, synonymous with their respective culture and social nuances.

Consequently, different festivals can feel part of the Hay Festival Global master brand while retaining their own unique identities and fun festival feel.

Wider graphic assets within the identity, including infographics, agendas and social media posts, echo the logo design. This helps to unify the organisation’s festivals, projects, educational programmes, and digital platforms while representing the variety of angles, perspectives and views that the festival collates.

This year’s Hay-on-Wye event will be one of the first key roll-out projects for the brand campaign and onsite experience.

Dynamic and energetic

“We’ve been delighted to support Hay Festival in its brand transformation journey,” says Khadija Kapacee, founder and MD of EDIT Brand Studio. “Creating a dynamic, energetic new identity that roots the new brand in Hay Festival’s long-standing legacy as a world-leading book festival, whilst also looking towards the future and creating a brand for a global festival of stories, ideas and new possibilities; focusing on new ways of engaging with people all around the world.”

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch adds: “As an international charity, we reach millions of people annually through our one-of-a-kind festivals, forums, programmes, and digital platforms. Opening minds to new ways of thinking about our ever-changing world, we are a charity for everyone.

“We are delighted to share our new identity created by EDIT Brand Studio, underpinned by a year of audience development research, and aligned to our mission, vision and values as a charity. With Hay Festival 2024 in Wales, we are starting our next chapter with purpose and vision.”

This year’s events

The next Hay Festival takes place in Wales from 23 May to 2 June, offering fresh thinking, dynamic performances and diverse voices. Confirmed speakers include novelists Colm Tóibín, Marlon James, Jeanette Winterson and Andrey Kurkov; environmentalist George Monbiot; podcaster Rory Stewart; comedians Julian Clary and Sara Pascoe; poet Hollie McNish; musician Jools Holland; and actors Miriam Margolyes and Lenny Henry.

Meanwhile, festival events are already in full swing. Last month, there were editions in Jericó, Medellín Cartagena, Colombia, and Panama City, while Hay Festival Forum Seville takes place in Spain this March. Closer to home, the Scribblers Tour just wrapped up last week, taking writers directly to schools across Wales in free events.

Sessions in Spanish and English can be rediscovered anywhere in the world on Hay Festival Anytime, a subscription service (formerly Hay Player) offering the world’s greatest writers on film and audio for £15/€15 per year.

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