In 2019 we partnered with Long Division to develop their brand identity and a new set of guidelines that would help steer the brand as it entered the next stage in its journey.
Held in Wakefield City Centre every summer, Long Division Festival is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. It presents a vast array of musical talent; up and coming bands alongside well known artists. When we first approached Long Division Director Dean Freeman, it couldn’t have been clearer that we’d timed our introduction well. Dean explains –
“Long Division Festival has a very makeshift past. For the first five or so years we – for some reason I never considered at the time – redesigned our logo and branding for every festival, which was crazy! Looking back now I like seeing that change and development, but it was also a method that created needless work and stress for people who were doing it for the love and commitment to the cause.”
In 2018 we redesigned and streamlined the visual brand in house, which was a big step for us, but as we grew as an organisation we were becoming more than just a festival. We needed a brand that could work across a wider range of media and appeal to a wider range of audiences. It’s a tough brief really and a nut we’d never cracked ourselves, so we needed to bring in someone who wasn’t as close to it as we were. Because we aren’t a huge business with big budgets it also needed to be flexible and easy to use for other designers too, so having defined brand guidelines was important for us as well.”
How can I put this politely? Not all designers are the easiest to work with. And my concern would have been that we ended up looking too formal and business-like, paying money to just get a simple logo back with no detail. That wasn’t the case with RDH. They got where Long Division was coming from, they took time to understand our story and helped us walk the line we walk every day, between DIY and a professional business. The quality of the work, the communication and the whole experience was really enjoyable. For me it felt important that they were accessible, and I much prefer the more hands on approach of a smaller, focused team. Our brief needed them to cover a lot of bases and talking through the design process face-to-face helped me understand more about how we communicate with our different audiences. It came at an important time for us.”
One thing that came to light during the process, was that Long Division was already a recognisable and much-loved brand, with a loyal following. For this reason, the rebrand focused on evolution rather than revolution, with subtle tweaks to existing features and a streamlining of assets that made the brand much easier to work with. This proved particularly important when it came to announcing line-up information as there are multiple formats and variations of designs that need rolling out in a very short space of time.
“I think a key success was how easily the new brand slotted into our festival work. It wasn’t a radical reinvention, so its success was measured in how easy the transition was for us and audiences. We’ve had unexpected projects arise that were not even on the radar a month ago, such as LD:TV and the brand just worked for that, so from a user / organisation point of view, it’s been hugely useful and low effort, which is what we needed. I’ve had previous experience where a design agency has created the tools, but not fully thought through their actual application, which results in constantly returning to them for further information, tweaks etc – all at the customer’s expense. That early work we did together has paid dividends for us.”
As noted, the most important thing for me is how approachable they are and I get the impression they only work on projects they are genuinely interested in and passionate about, which just makes everyone’s life much easier. By taking what feels like a more personal interest, I didn’t feel I was getting an off-the-shelf solution but something custom made to suit our needs.”
Despite a challenging initial brief, which required us to bear numerous provisions and specifications in mind, we soon devised a system that allowed the branding to work not only on festival material, but on other Long Division projects including their community work and youth programmes. This was highlighted by the swiftly created LD:TV platform, which hosted a weekend of online performances, replacing the planned festival in June 2020.
We look forward to continuing our work with Dean and watching the Long Division story develop.