Nikkei Matsuri is a Japanese cultural festival that takes place in Burnaby, British Columbia. “Nikkei” is commonly used to define people of Japanese descent living outside of Japan, while “Matsuri” means festival. The goal of the festival is to “celebrate Japanese culture through food, music, entertainment, games, and more.” With this in mind, I designed a brand system for Nikkei Matsuri that included a poster, tickets, program, splash pages and signage with the use of Japanese and English on all media.
*This is a school project with no association with Nikkei Matsuri itself*
An inconsistent existing brand identity that needed to appeal to a wider audience.
To create promotional materials that appeal to all ages with a root in traditional Japanese themes and motifs, such as using red, caligraphic characters and Japanese patterns. The goal is to create interesting design to accomodate large age ranges and attract new festival attendees.
“The goal of the festival is to celebrate Japanese culture through food, music, entertainment, games, and more.”
All ages, catering towards families with children and grandparents. Primarily Japanese immigrants with a focus on traditional Japanese practices/events, but it is open to everybody.
Tone and Manner
Referencing traditional Japanese textures, patterns and colours. Using red, blue, tan and grey as muted colours. Textures from origami paper and woodblock prints. Clean, classic and cohesive.
Program - 6 panel accordion fold
Mobile and Web Splash Pages
I was given the task to create three different posters that used different approaches: abstract, literal and symbolic. I started by sketching a lot of different ideas for each of the approaches. All of them were centered on using traditional Japanese themes in some way. I wanted to experiment with different imagery, from more literal like a festival yukata, to more abstract like patterns.
Initial font and colour palette brainstorm. I wanted to get a variety of Japanese fonts, especially looking at handwritten fonts. I kept the English more minimal to compliment the Japanese. I mixed and matched the fonts for each design. For the colours, I looked at existing Japanese designs to decide what would suit the theme. I wouldn’t stick to these colours exactly, but I would use them as a base to start a design.
Initial Digital Comps
These were digital sketches of a few of the ideas I sketched out traditionally. I tried to give each of them a different layout, but I was still working on the colours and typefaces I would use
Refined Digital Comps
I decided to choose four of the rough layouts that I made and continued to refine them. Red was a colour that I ended up using in all of the designs because of how eye catching it was. Overall, each one presented its own challenges.
I spent the most time refining the first layout which had the most elements involved. The version before was a bit too heavy and gloomy to be seen as branding for a festival. I changed the bottom gradient to white and changed the central colour to a lighter red to create a more “festive” mood. I would make the final colour even lighter and more saturated. I made smaller design changes to the other two posters, such as changing alignments and adding details. The first poster was chosen as the one I would move forward with for the rest of the brand system.
The main idea that I had was to mimic the style of traditional Japanese fortunes called Omikuji. These fortunes are usually drawn at temples and have a root in Japanese culture, which fits into my design intent. I thought the strong vertical axis in my design would also pair well with the format and orientation of the paper. It gives the ticket another use as well, making it more fun for the recipient. They can keep their fortunes afterwards because only the stub would need to be ripped off. I knew I had to fit in a lot of information in both languages, so I used as much of the space as possible by creating sections. The ticket information is on the front and the Omikuji information is on the back. The ticket stub also had to fit the important information in two languages.
Digital Refinement - Front
Digital Refinement - Back
I had to do a lot of research to figure out what information an Omikuji would provide. I found that the fortune is split into categories. I mimicked the layout on the front and used boxes to separate them. I had to shorten the English translations to be very simple so they could all fit in the boxes.
I started by playing with different ways I could fold the program. I ended up deciding on an accordion fold because it would be the simplest to use. However, I needed 6 folds to fit all the information in. Each “page” would be the size of half letter sheet of paper (8.5″ x 5.5″). I knew I had to plan out how each section would fit into the program. I had very limited space for a lot of information. I wanted each section to have a different coloured background as well.
I had a difficult time figuring out how I wanted the schedule to work and also how it would make sense. I initially started the formatting wrong. So if an event went from 11:00-11:30, it would take up two spaces from the top of 11:00 to the bottom of 11:30. However, the bottom of 11:30 was also the top of 12:00 pm. I didn’t realize how bad the problem was until I had to start overlapping events and it just wouldn’t make any sense.
I finally arrived at a format that made sense. I had to change how I formatted the information in the boxes to make up for the lack of space. Overall, I was happy with how this was looking.
On the left was the initial layout for Events. After a while, I realized that I was going to run out of room for all the events and had to change the size of my type. Below, you can see how I changed the type and was able to fit all the information in both languages in the four pages. Then, I added the decorative patterns around the pages.
I started with drawing a sketch based on the real map that Nikkei Matsuri has. I knew I had to simplify it a lot to make it easier to read. I also reduced the amount of areas that you could see on the map. I scanned my sketch and recreated it in Illustrator. I started with grey tones completely to keep a focus on the shapes.
I originally was going to leave it as a 2D map with no objects on top, but I thought I would challenge myself. I made the map look “3D” by warping it and adding a shadow underneath it. I started creating small assets that could be used to represent tables, stalls and more.
It was a challenge to figure out the colour scheme of the map. Originally, I thought maybe I could use different colours that still looked like it fit into the existing colour palette that I was already using. However, I realized that it would be too jarring using different colours. I decided to go with shades of the 3 colours that I used throughout the rest of the program to get the other colours.
After the base of the map was done, I started adding patterns, symbols and text to it. I changed the way the legend was formatted as well to match the rest of the program. I was following a grid throughout the process as well.
Full Program Development
This is how the whole program evolved over time, showing all the different pages, including the cover, back and intro page. I played with the background colours of the sections to create the most cohesive look to the whole program.
What I learned
Have multiple elements to a brand identity
…to re-use in different way to create consistency. While it’s not necessary, by having several assets that I could use throughout, such as the patterns, the vertical lines and the colours, I was able to use them in multiple, new ways.
Colours can affect perception
…and the mood you want to convey. I originally kept using darker, unsaturated colours because I thought they fit the design intent I was aiming for. However, it lost the “festival” feel of the brand. Therefore, I ended up making the main red colour more vibrant and bright.
Proper planning and space management is important
…to ensure all the information you have will fit. This was especially important to consider in the ticket and program planning where there was limited space, but a lot of text. I also had to consider type size to make sure it would be legible when printed.