During my first few months working as a visual designer at IBM, I was tasked to create the deliverables for IBM Club Hursley's firework display. This was the third consecutive year of the display, and I later found out it was the make or break year, as the previous had barely broke even in terms of profit (I'm glad I wasn't told this when designing!). The aim was to raise the number of the event by 100 visitors, to 3,100, and to attract volunteers to ensure the event was safe and enjoyable for all involved.
The brief was to create brand guidelines, that could be applied over various deliverables. These were initially determined to include: posters, a PVC banner to be placed just outside the site, tickets and social media graphics. I then suggested additional deliverables that I felt were necessary. In previous years, the tickets and posters were not designed by designers, and this showed. There was no consistent brand, with the event had various inconsistent names such as "Firework Display 2018" and "Fireworks event" across different deliverables. The posters and tickets felt like they belonged to different events, and the tickets contained way too much irrelevant copy.
At the start of the project, I worked collaboratively with another designer before taking over the project myself. Looking at the previous years work, we both researched and looked for inspiration, before conversing and sharing ideas. We had both separately agreed that the illustrative style of retro fireworks posters could be refreshing, and would stand out from the typical fireworks poster that included photographs, creating a stronger and more recognisable brand for the event.
Our clients were refreshingly open to any ideas, and were very happy with the illustrative approach we had planned. Initial discussions surrounded colour palette, concept and layout. My main concept was to have a different design of firework to represent each ticket group: Adults, Children and Infants. That way, the poster could show all of these people coming together, which was suitable as the event was community driven. The tickets could then be differentiated by the colour and design of each firework. This was the chosen concept that we took forward, and when I took over the project completely. The name 'A night of Fireworks' was chosen to be the one name to span all deliverables.
The clients had a lot of copy, in long sentences, which they were wanting to appear on the poster. However, after explaining that posters should contain as little copy as possible, and just include the key details and a call to action, we agreed that introducing another deliverable: a flyer, could allow for more information to be included, without overwhelming the reader. This could also be placed around the site, in a form that people could take away, rather than solely being forced to digest and act upon the information on the poster.
This was my first project that I was paid to do, outside the University setting. It was a challenge to juggle this more create task, alongside getting to grips with my day job: middleware design. However, it was a refreshing and more familiar break away from the technical design thinking I do on a daily basis.
Event success and deliverables
2019's event was a huge success, with ticket sales surpassing 4,000, an over 25% increase from the previous year. My clients were overjoyed, and remarked that the design of the posters and tickets had been praised by event goers, and gave me some credit for the huge rise in sales. I have been promoted to 'lead designer' for the 2020 event (although, I am in fact the only designer!), and I can't wait to expand on the branding next year to continue on the success of this year.