Rebrand: The Vancouver International Film Festival


The Vancouver International Film Festival is a 35 year-old cultural institution in our city. It’s beloved by locals and one of the largest film festivals in North America. Even with all that success, VIFF became fully aware that their audience was shifting in their needs and the organization needed to adapt along with them. At the same time VIFF wanted to take the opportunity to better serve the diversity of our filmmaking community, embrace the next wave of technologies used to tell stories on screen, and of course attract more corporate partnerships.


The Restructure

VIFF’s main branding challenge is that they have become so much more than just a film festival. Not only have they added a significant industry conference to their brand family but also program and operate a theatre year round.

The work to meet these challenges is still in progress, but it debuted with a strategic restructuring of the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival that will carry on year-round at their Vancouver International Film Centre.


To begin, VIFF has expanded the frame to include more diverse experiences. Envisioned as Film+, this strategy adds more talks, parties, exhibitions and workshops to appeal to both those who work in the film industry and the public. These experiences serve as a complement to the film screenings, not a replacement, and are organized around streams which pool the experiences based on themes (and are open for unique sponsorship).

For example, the Impact stream focuses on films and discussions that spark action and social change, while the Next stream looks at the future of technology as a catalyst for storytelling.

Much of Next will be built around the VIFF Hub, which roots the festival at the Vancouver International Film Centre and creates a space for the exploration of new screen-based experiences like VR, as well as spot to hear from industry leaders and creators and listen to music late into the night.

All streams will continue on year-round at the Vancouver International Film Centre as the year round programming becomes more closely connected to that of the Festival.


Discovering Discovery: Defining the VIFF Brand

Research is always a key part of our process, and it was a particularly substantial part of this project. We interviewed audience members, the local film industry, sponsors, partners and staff. We sifted through reams of reports and scanned the entire global landscape of international film festivals.

With this understanding, we worked with the team at VIFF to build a brand around a core set of values — what sets VIFF apart? What does it truly stand for?


What was cultivated was a strong commitment to home and VIFF’s place in the world. VIFF programs the largest annual exhibition of East Asian films outside of Asia, is Canada’s largest documentary film festival, programs the largest selection of Canadian films in the country and celebrates and support local BC talent.

As the organization moves forward, it became clear that it wanted to bring more diversity to its experiences, both in audience and experience. As well, it recognized the difference between itself in other festivals in that it continues to celebrate the creators rather than the celebrities. And lastly, VIFF values the content, but does forget about the total experience.

VIFF is proud of its place on the West Coast of Canada, a unique position that is both separate but connected.

We call it the edge of discovery.

Artboard 1 copy


Visually Communicating the VIFF Brand

Finally we get to the part of the process that most people associate with branding: the visual identity. We really wanted to communicate VIFF’s boldness and vibrancy with its logo, colours, type and graphics.

“Disassociating ourselves from TIFF, SIFF (or any other ‘IFF’) we eschew the lowercase and carved our wordmark out of a solid mass. By removing the extraneous details, we create a symbol that reveals a unique meaning, but only after study and appreciation. Much like the programming at VIFF, it is substantial, cerebral and rewarding.”


We designed a graphic system to hold the brand and to expand the frame as VIFF moved towards film+, which you can see in motion in this trailer for VIFF 2016 we worked on with Post Pro Media with music by Warsaw Sound.

All of the graphic design work and strategic thinking came together on VIFF’s website. As a major touchpoint for interaction with the brand, it had to be easy to use, memorable and communicate the new brand. It leads with content in the streams right away to greet visitors.

With a massive film festival comes a huge marketing push and after many hours in front of our computers designing signage, ads and program covers, we looked up and found that our work followed us wherever we looked.


Change has come to VIFF and we look forward to what comes next.
View full case study here.