Cultivating a Cultural Institution

National Cherry Blossom Festival

Promoting the Centennial Event

Organizers of the National Cherry Blossom Festival were seeking to establish a cohesive, recognizable brand for the Festival’s centennial celebration. For the 2012 celebration, the Festival wanted to convey a single brand to attendees, sponsors, and participating organizations. The Festival approached Sage to develop promotional materials that would reflect the theme of the 2012 Festival, “Celebrating 100 Years of the Gift of Trees.”

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Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the arrival of spring in Washington, DC and the blooming of DC’s world-famous cherry blossom trees. The Festival, which is known as the nation’s greatest springtime celebration, produces and coordinates a variety of events that are free and open to the public.

The 2012 Festival marked the 100th anniversary of the gift of trees from the city of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC; therefore, Festival organizers knew attendees, sponsors and participating organizations had high expectations for the 2012 celebration. With an unprecedented level of sponsorship and participation, organizers wanted to ensure that the 2012 Festival exceeded expectations. Based on a recommendation from another major DC-area festival, National Cherry Blossom Festival organizers turned to Sage.


National Cherry Blossom Festival organizers needed to create a presence for the Festival and create a brand and messaging that reflected the theme of the 2012 event—“Celebrating 100 Years of the Gift of Trees”— in the Festival’s promotional materials. The goal of the project was to create a consistent, recognizable brand image and message to elevate awareness and participation for the centennial Festival.

Our Process:

From the get-go, Sage’s goal was not only to create the required deliverables, but also act as a strategic marketing partner. To kick off the project, the Sage team held a messaging workshop with stakeholders and organizers to establish a solid brand platform as the foundation for all of the creative tools and outreach.

Sage then presented the Festival team with a series of sample promotional materials, enabling the client to see how the entire promotional campaign would play out, as opposed to sharing and gaining approval based a single element like an advertisement, brochure or sign.

Once Festival organizers selected a design, Sage went to work, producing materials for Festival-related events and ensuring that all materials reflected the Festival’s “100 Years” tagline. Throughout the process, Sage worked very closely with the Festival team, maintaining constant communication and attending weekly staff meetings and conference calls, realizing the promise of becoming a true extension of the Festival team, rather than acting as an outside consultant.


Sage produced collateral material for approximately 15 Festival events, including invitations, programs, flyers, signage, gobos (a logo projected on a wall), PowerPoint templates, animated presentations to visually enhance performances, and web graphics. In total, 100 promotional materials were produced from January thru April 2012.

Sage handled content management for the Festival’s website, entering in all event information and provided guidance for aligning the website to the new brand guidelines. We also recommended changes to the calendar function to improve the user experience.

In addition, Sage also wrote the content and managed the production process with the Washington Examiner for a 40-page Festival Guide as well as 3-4 page newspaper wraps that served as advertorial sections on the outside of the paper.

Lastly, Sage managed a traffic schedule for advertisements going out almost daily during the Festival. Content changed with each insertion to stay current with Festival events and push timely messages.

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