Speak up, stand out: producing beautiful event materials

One of the biggest challenges in producing materials for events is the need to balance the creation of a distinctive, engaging and visually arresting product whilst staying true to the core values of your brand. There are countless examples of poor promotional materials doing more harm than good and it is a pitfall all event planners ought be wary of.

One of our latest projects saw us working alongside the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) to help produce promotional materials for Showcase Scotland at folk, roots and world music festival Celtic Connections. The festival – which lasts 17 days – draws top acts (and delegates from the music industry) from every corner of the globe. As well as the live performances visitors can attend talks and take part in workshops on anything from harmony singing and African drumming to playing the spoons. The huge range of performances and the festival’s international appeal make it a perfect opportunity to present the very best in English folk music to the world. 

Spotlight England, the brainchild of EFDSS, is aimed at ‘shining a light’ on new English folk music and creating a strong, distinct brand that can be exported worldwide. With these aims in mind EFDSS has been working in partnership with Showcase Scotland at Celtic Connections, who have invited England to be its international partner in 2013. This means Spotlight England has had the chance to put forward six artists to perform showcases in front of around 200 international music industry delegates at Celtic Connections 2013.

Of course, to make the most of an opportunity like this EFDSS had to ensure that their presence at the festival was distinct, exciting and accurately expressed the values of Spotlight England. As well as hand picking some truly excellent acts to perform.

The acts chosen represent the very best in the vibrant and varied English folk scene and have in many cases made the switch to more mainstream appeal thanks to the recent surge in popularity of folk music as a genre. One such act is 11-piece band Bellowhead, whose most recent album ‘Broadside’ went to number 16 in the UK album chart. Sam Carter, also on the bill, was described by the Guardian as a “distinctively English singer-songwriter” and recently appeared on ‘Later… with Jools Holland’.

As official design partner to EFDSS we were briefed to produce materials to support the event – following on from, and developing the work we did last year when we helped them with their presence at the 2012 Celtic Connections. This time round we were asked to design a newspaper used as an introduction to the showcase at the 2013 festival – as well as producing other event promotion materials.


From receiving the brief to delivering the final proofs our design team worked their 2B pencils to the bone to create a strong visual identity that runs throughout everything we produced – from event invitations and banners to the design and layout of the newspaper.


We hugely enjoyed being a part of this event. Tan, our Art Director said “It’s really great when you get a chance to work on a project that is closely linked to something you are passionate about. Hopefully the enthusiasm we have at Speak for everything we do has come through in the work we’ve done for Spotlight England”.

Sophia Linehan, Marketing and Communications Director at EFDSS was delighted with the finished products “The unique and distinct Spotlight England visual identity is fresh and contemporary, yet still respectful of tradition and heritage. I feel that the use of beautiful and humour-filled illustrations, interesting typography, and quirky visual elements, all reinforce and support the brand.”

Keep watching the blog for a link to a full pdf of the Spotlight England newspaper we produced.

Author: Tom Owen

A strategic storyteller and compelling content creator, awash with acuity and adept at alliteration. I work for Speak Media. www.speakmedia.co.uk

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