The road to a rebrand

1 May 2016 by Sam Smith

A new name, a new look, and an even greater purpose

The road to a rebrand

For 20 years now, the Northern Rivers Writers’ Centre and Byron Bay Writers Festival have coexisted harmoniously – the Centre as our hub of year-round programs and support for our local writing community, the festival as a celebration of ideas and literature that is renowned and loved for its inspiring curation and relaxed atmosphere.

In recent years, the staff and Board have been focusing on our future strategic direction and exploring means of providing more value to our members. This has seen our team grow, our annual programs broaden and inspired a strategic initiative to strengthen our organisation for the next decade. Aligned to this initiative is our rebrand; a new name, positioning and look that we are very excited to share with our members and readers prior to its public launch.

Probing research

Kevin Finn of TheSumOf was engaged to assist us with the rebrand project. With previous successes including the rebrand of the Brisbane Festival, State Library of QLD and SBS, it was with confidence and anticipation that we embarked on this journey. A series of interviews with Centre and Festival stakeholders were conducted, revealing a number of enlightening and energising insights into our organisation, our brand and our potential for growth.

What we discovered

Research uncovered an overarching desire to merge the two entities under one name – Byron Writers Festival. Whilst many names and iterations were pondered we were after a name that was simple, distinctive and emotive.

Research also revealed that the Centre’s core strengths and operational activities would in fact be bolstered by this new, more recogniseable name; the Festival, with its incredibly broad reach, strong brand recognition and positive experiential associations would serve to attract new, diverse members and audiences. It would also increase our capacity to deliver a high quality program of out-of-season events and workshops.

A unified name would simplify our messaging, increase operational efficiency and consolidate resources towards promoting organisational activities through a single, more compelling communications strategy.

Our new positioning

A brand’s embodies what we stand for, what we do, what we believe and how we behave. It’s our reason for being. Our positioning, Where Stories Take You, is all of these things and more.

In breaking it apart, we can each find our own connection to it.

Where… Byron (and its surrounding region) is a destination brand; a place that balances an international culture with a down-to-earth, friendly attitude. Byron is the place where the festival takes place, but the word poses a broader provocation of the (often unknown) destination we are seeking when we start on our journey as a reader or a writer.

Stories… We have a passion for stories, whether fact or fiction. Stories and ideas can move us, whether that is by informing us, inspiring us or challenging us. Stories are synonymous with literature and journalism, but stories are also about communication; the passing down of cultural traditions, and oral histories.

Take… Stories are social. They take us to places and put us in situations which expand and enrich our networks, our ideas, and for many, our lives. Our Festival brings the world of debate and ideas to Byron, but it also takes regional and national ideas to the world.

You… This is where it becomes about you – our members, our festival patrons, our community, our partners. Is it professional development, mentoring and guidance you are seeking? Or is it a more personal, transformational journey? For children and adults alike, stories influence our imagination and inform our awareness. It’s the potential impact behind a story and the effect it can have on us that is so powerful.

Where Stories Take You is emotive, personal and direct. Everything Byron Writers Festival does is focused on this guiding principle; from bringing international speakers to our region to developing children’s literacy programs. It is open-ended, welcoming and future-focused.

“Stories have the power to change our position on something, to redirect us, or to take us to a different place, whether that is through imagination or journalistic fact. The identity seeks to reflect this physical, emotional and psychological affect stories have on us, conveyed in a strong but simple visualisation of the positioning – Where Stories Take You.” Kevin Finn, TheSumOf

Our new look

Accompanying our positioning is of course our new brand marque. Within its simplicity, Kevin managed to convey a wide array of qualities and associations.

The upwards, triangular point of the b’s ascender reflects our pioneering attitude, positivity, leadership, confidence and aspiration, whilst unequivocally linking Byron Bay and its iconic lighthouse to the act of writing.

The encircling nature of the b’s bowl represents community, the journey of ideas, and the crashing waves of our beautiful bay.

And of course the light, cheerful blue represents our location – by the ocean with the fresh air feeding our creativity.

Moving forwards

Both the staff and Board are delighted with the new identity and look forward to its adoption across all our organisational platforms. The new brand will be publicly launched in line with early bird ticket sales and our new website in mid-May.

We invite you to join us in celebrating everything that is brilliant about our organisation with the upcoming public launch and look forward to continuing the journey of sharing ideas, stories, and writing together.

Sam Smith