MEFA Festival 2015: Cross-Cultural Branding
The Middle Eastern Film & Arts Festival is about the power of art:
Its power is to raise awareness, evoke emotion, and bring about positive change in our society. The media often portrays the Middle East in a way that reinforces negative stereotypes. MEFA Festival wants to tell the other side of the story, the story of a modern and diverse Middle East with a long history and rich artistic culture.
MEFA Festival, Kino Sheryl Screenings. Photo by: Eetu Ahanen.
We were super excited to be a part of the MEFA Festival this year, again! Last year, the MEFA branding had a direct message: “fighting stereotypes playfully”. As the previous brand made the audience familiar with MEFA’s ideology, this year, we had the freedom to be more adventurous with the direction of the visuals. Notably, as the cultural diversity in Helsinki is rapidly growing, we focused on the various ways of cross-cultural communication.
We challenged stereotypes, for example, by creating an inside joke for the naming of the concert. As Arabs have no “p” in their alphabet, we thought to name the big hip-hop concert “HIB HOB”.
Cross-cultural branding and marketing does not restrict design in any way but rather channels it intelligently to attract cultures together. With the right strategy, the cultural gap can be narrowed down, as we can see with the MEFA festival.
As MEFA Festival decided to focus more on digital and less on print, we played with the idea of CMYK on digital mediums. Classic Arabic typography was combined with experimental, funky and retro colours. We were mainly inspired by book covers from the 80’s. We created a super bright and an eye-catching brand, making sure that it pops out a mile away. The marketing plan succeeded to attract both the Middle Eastern and the Western audience.
We ran the branding throughout the web design, festival’s interior design, brochures, postcards and social media.