Alphabet Studio

Alphabet Studio

Sydney Festival


Sydney Festival


2013 - 2021

Type of work

Brand Identity
Image Creation
Website design
Animation and Motion


Photography (Campaign): Brett Boardman

This is our city in summer

Sydney Festival has always been a multi-faceted spectacle with different meanings for different people. For some, it’s a deep and thoughtful relationship, while for others it’s a Summer fling. It could entail anything from a gritty, cerebral dose of European theatre on a small, intimate stage to an oversized yellow rubber duck floating on the harbour to a sparkly night of Cabaret and cocktails.

Alphabet’s role was to provide a creative framework that could encapsulate such eclecticism and ensure it felt like a festival for everyone, while also visually reflecting the Director’s vision

We are the only studio to have successfully pitched twice for the Festival’s campaign creative – working with the team for 9 years over the tenure of two very different Directors.

2016 - 2021

With the end of one Artistic Director’s tenor and the beginning for a newly appointed director taking on the coveted role, the Festival brand and visual expression was once again up for grabs.

When asked what would be the driving principle behind his programming, the artistic director from 2016 to 2021, Wesley Enoch, emphatically stated “I am a maker” and that this inevitably influenced all of his creative choices. It was from this statement that we took our creative cues. A Festival made by a maker. A Festival inviting all to be makers. A Festival to make your own.

Retaining the essence of the Festival brand, while rethinking, retooling and re-imagining it. This was a direct response to Enoch’s vision. His Festival was to be more of a grassroots, homegrown Festival with a First Nations peoples’ focus. A sense of community, inclusivity and accessibility. A wonderful mix of people, places and events coming together. Our solution was to graphically represent a sum of parts making a whole… Seemingly disparate parts collaborating and coming together to create something surprising, unexpected and new.

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Diversity, eclecticism and celebration were all inherent values defining Enoch's curation. The campaign highlighted his 5 year tenure with a dynamic set of tools to visually communicate and support his vision.

Key to the campaign imagery was the representation of the audience, the faces, characters and personalities who support, embrace and celebrate the Sydney Festival in all its guises. The selected portraits provided the opportunity to represent the diversity of age, gender and race. The faces of the Festival were profiled and featured across multiple touchpoints. 

A specific graphic image treatment was applied from year to year employing a bold primary colour palette. The creative ensured immediate recognition throughout the City

The Festival Font

We took the existing brand font and rebuilt it – pulling it apart and reassembling it, creating a bespoke typeface for the Festival. In doing so, we created a secondary graphic language used extensively across motion and print. 

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Sydney Festival <3 Alphabet

Successfully winning the Sydney Festival pitch in 2013 was a big deal for our Studio. We had not long set up shop and we found ourselves in good company as we pitched our creative against a number of much larger and more established agencies. After a rigorous tender process, our wordplay identity positioning got us the job. We had the great privilege of working with Belgian curator and director, Lieven Bertels to brand the festival and activate the city. 

Alphabet devised a potent campaign, bringing to life the mandatory brand positioning statement ‘This is our city in summer’. Sydney Festival is many things to many people… dance, theatre, art, installation, international and local. We learn, feel and grow by engaging and exploring Sydney’s largest Arts annual Summer Festival. When the Sydney Festival is in full summer swing, our city is re-energised and liberated. It becomes our city in joy, curiosity, dance, drama, passion, wonder, suspense, action, surprise, harmony and so much more.


Alphabet developed a comprehensive language system integration to define, describe, promote and reflect the breadth, and diversity of the event. The wordplay incited curiosity… provoked and involved the audience, and reiterated that the Sydney festival is the peoples’ festival… A campaign created based on a conversation with its audience. What is Sydney Festival to you?

The language asset was utilised across multiple communication objectives – emotive, informative, metaphoric, and pragmatic. From describing an opera to directions to a ticket booth, the brand overlay was ever-present and intrinsic to the Festivals presence throughout the city and Parramatta 

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Modernist and bold, the graphic resolve was an obvious departure from the previous festivals. The minimal canvas and typography ensured the product came to the fore… a celebration of evocative and beautiful imagery representing Artistic Director, Lieven Bertels’s curation.

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The campaign application is vast. Dressing the city in bold, confidant and evocative statements, there was no mistaking that the Festival had arrived. The dynamic nature of the wordplay made for a constantly intriguing and evolving campaign as the language was tailored to represent and reflect the broad content.  The energy captured in evocative language utilised across print, digital, radio and television.

“We applaud their systematic approach and love the new house style that is inclusive, and invites audience interaction and participation. I am happy to report our 2014 Festival was one the strongest editions in recent times and the clear graphic design Alphabet delivered helped us in delivering our message successfully.”

Lieven Bertels - Festival Director 2013-2016