CMA

2018 CMA Fest Rebrand

CMA

2018 CMA Fest Rebrand

TNB was tapped by the Country Music Association as the branding agency to develop the 2018 CMA Fest rebrand initiative. CMA and The New Blank partnered to create the overarching visual vernacular for the CMA Fest which has grown to become the largest country music festival in the world. CMA Fest takes place in June occupying downtown Nashville and showcasing hundreds of artists on 11 different stages benefitting music education through the CMA Foundation. They needed a look and feel that focused on summer, celebration, and of course the connection of music with the city of Nashville while minding traditional viewers and shifting focus to a steadily growing millennial market.

Branding | Design | Multiplatform | Print | Digital

Collaborating on a course correction

The Country Music Association is a major influencer on the mainstream country market. Through the CMA Fest, CMA Country Music Awards, and various other programs and events CMA has developed and grown an audience that rivals the largest musical sub-genres.

The New Blank was originally approached as a leading entertainment marketing and branding agency to develop branding for the broadcast special event on ABC. We soon learned the job went much bigger and broader than originally thought. Encompassing digital, print, and environmental, the 2018 CMA Fest rebrand was a multichannel, integrated opportunity.

Point of Origin

When CMA came to The New Blank we found that their artists were following mainstream rock aesthetics as their major guiding voice while simultaneously, dipping hard into a romanticized vision of their heritage for design vernacular. There was some minor modification but it wasn’t uniquely theirs to own.

We approached the 2018 CMA fest rebrand with the goal of giving them and mainstream country a much needed course correction in their visual voice, making something uniquely their own. One that allows country to move forward while at the same time respectful of their past. We wanted to give them something that was truly the embodiment of modern mainstream country music.

The Process

The Process
Inspiration

Part of our inspirational process was extended dip into exploring different genres of music design, historical and present including their music festivals, album art, press art, music videos, and gig poster art. Illustration and printmaking were both huge aspects of our exploration, partially out of respect to Hatch Show Print and its place in Nashville but also as both are common voices in music industry branding. Our goal was to create a unique identity that felt that it belonged not only to music but specifically to country music and the CMA Fest.

Once we had stylistic ideas in place, we started exploring ways the city and music could be combined through info-graphic or conceptual graphic design along with a celebratory attitude in their festival branding.

https://open.spotify.com/user/127460266/playlist/2GEuPHqGLQDfLtaf28jcsI

Music plays an important role in our design process, for the 2018 CMA Fest rebrand we dug into country music old and new, listening to whatever we could find, anything that was recommended or referenced, allowing the genre to wash through us and affect us creatively. Here is a playlist we used as inspiration, grounding, motivating and helping us nail the look:

A two phase approach

The first phase while limited to on air alone, was seen as an opportunity to develop all encompassing brand strategy that included solutions and extensions for multiple pillars.

The CMA Fest is the largest country music festival and it takes over Nashville during the summer. We angled our designs to steer clear of the tropes tangling the feet of country music identity and started looking for a fresh look that embodied the direction, energy and spirit of the genre as well as the music festival itself. A natural starting point was in the logo design. It was a quick check to see if we had the attitude and message right or not and whether it rang true as part of the identity we were crafting.

Initial presentation

We then pulled together seven different looks that we felt hit the various marks we were aiming for. Each approached the identity strategy in different ways and embodied the voice uniquely.

The Second Phase

The Country Music Association came back about a month after the initial pitch and invited us to pitch on the festival branding itself, siting the work we had already put into it for the initial phase. They were really drawn to two of our ideas that turned the city skyline into musical instruments specifically and asked that we continue creative exploration along those lines.

Styleframes

Our second phase produced several different looks, each a different interpretation of the “city as music” theme. Take a look at some of the fantastic work produced below, you can even see how the final look started out!

Broad reaching and flexible like a gymnast!

The branding needed to extend from key art to each stage, through the various locations around the festival to maps, posters, signage, selfie stages, shirts, hats, webpages, press releases, advertisements, app, passes and brochures. In short, our design was going to be doing some backflips throughout the scope of the 2018 CMA Fest rebrand, so we had to make sure was flexible, easy to use and easy to understand.

A whole new look for the biggest gosh-darn country music festival around

And of course, it needed to appeal to a larger market share and help grow the audience. In the end, all goals were met and exceeded.

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Creative Direction: Bobby Hougham
Design Lead: Lindsey Mayer-Beug
Design team: Lindsey Mayer-Beug, Vince Diga, Eric Edwards
Executive Producer: Sevrin Daniels
Executive Creative Directors: Sevrin Daniels, Bobby Hougham

Agency: CMA Foundation
Director of Creative Services: Amanda Eckard
Brand and Design Specialist: Marty Filogamo
CMO: Damon Whiteside

Creative Direction: Bobby Hougham
Design Lead: Lindsey Mayer-Beug
Design team: Lindsey Mayer-Beug, Vince Diga, Eric Edwards
Executive Producer: Sevrin Daniels
Executive Creative Directors: Sevrin Daniels, Bobby Hougham

Agency: CMA Foundation
Director of Creative Services: Amanda Eckard
Brand and Design Specialist: Marty Filogamo
CMO: Damon Whiteside

The New Blank made re-branding a four-day, massive country music festival such a breeze. Who knew that a company from Seattle would understand the country consumer and Nashville so deeply? From conception to execution, The New Blank knew exactly what we wanted…and delivered.

Amanda Eckard

Country Music Association
Director of Creative Services

These and other social media gems can be found amongst these tasty, tasty channels

These and other social media gems can be found amongst these tasty, tasty channels

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