First celebrated in 2012, the Montclair Film Festival is a 10-day event in Montclair, NJ, a town of 35,000+ people near the bigger cities of Newark and Jersey City and half an hour from Manhattan. The festival is modeled after popular film festivals around the country and brings a variety of films — and some of their actors, directors, and writers — from around the world to the small town of Montclair. The success of the festival has lead its organizers to host year-round workshops and events beyond the festival and to coincide with this year’s festival this Spring, the organization, simply Montclair Film, introduced a new identity designed by New York, NY-based Hieronymus.
Starting with a brand audit and naming, the challenge was to develop a naming system that preserved the brand equity of The Montclair Film Festival to date, while representing the diverse programming to come. The name Montclair Film is a nice large umbrella, providing a seamless rollout of sub-brands—some workhorses, and some of the cheekier variety (Montclair Film + Chill).
Working hand in hand with the Montclair Film team, Hieronymus devised a flexible identity system that reflects their core mission; bringing together many different people—audiences, filmmakers, students and artists—with the goal of educating and entertaining at the same time. The new identity allows for unique yearly festival applications with some rules in place to keep it all cohesive.
At first glance, the new logo may not seem the most exciting or original, using the corner-frame motif that is common amongst industries that use cameras — a recent example would be Mucho’s Frameline identity — to frame stuff. In its resting state, the logo is enjoyable to look at, with an extra bold sans serif that has enough personality on its own and the aforementioned frames in matching boldness. In action, the corner frames transform into pluses and hearts, making the modest visual device more memorable, relevant, and interesting.
Previous festival logos changed each year and most were modestly successful — except for that comic book one, that… no — but now they will revolve around the new logo system and, if this year is any indication, there might be some good stuff to come in future editions.
The 2017 festival identity makes great use of the new elements, wrapping the chunky font in colorful rectangles and binding them with extra large hearts and pluses, yielding a vibrant texture that is also easy to spot around town.
Overall, there is a simple yet great energy and personality to the main identity that makes the parent organization and its festival feel like miles away — literally and metaphorically — from the more status-driven festivals in Cannes and Park City.