Hay Festival

Brand Identity

An over-arching brand identity to cover the various dimensions, geographies and channels of the world-famous literary festival

Hay Festival is an extraordinary celebration of the spoken word. Bringing readers and writers together for a global series of sustainable events, it invites participants to imagine the world as it is and as it could be.

Founded in 1987, the festival today encompasses a myriad of activities and platforms that include international festivals around the world, one-day forums, educational projects, a digital player, and the Hay Festival Foundation. The festival's brand line ‘imagine the world’ sums up the positive change they bring to people around the globe.

Hay Festival asked Pentagram to help them better express the brand they had already established. The challenge was to create an over-arching brand identity that could cover the various dimensions, geographies and channels they now include.

An exciting task, Pentagram created a visual language and system to express more clearly their activities and what connects them. A new approach for the festival’s brand architecture also makes sense of how their activities fit together and identify the relationships and criteria behind such a vibrant ecosystem.

The outcome is a rich visual system where a colourful tree with many branches represents a family of Hay Festival editions. An outline version of that graphic language appears in all the components with unique colours signifying new festivals or denoting new platforms - such as the Hay Player or Hay Festival Foundation.

As the festival takes its title from the town of Hay-on-Wye in Wales, a major task was delivering a name change that would better reflect the organisation's new, global viewpoint. Therefore, Hay Festival is now the brand's overall name, supported by descriptors to identify each component.

Pentagram started by determining a set of organising principles and a personality built on the mission of ‘Imagine the world’. The new system has Hay Festival at its core, where critical areas of activity grow in branches from these principles - each representing an area of content or essential platform. 

Marina Willer
Project team
Marta Gaspar
Kate Blewett
Cleber de Campos
Jenni Kaunisto
View all images