How I Designed The Brand For A National Convention

This year (2017) will make my 2nd National Convention I’ve designed materials for from start to finish. I’ll be following much of the same blueprint this year as I did back in 2015 when I came face-to-face with…

“The biggest project I’ve ever done.”

A quote I have used with increased frequency since becoming the Publications Manager & Multimedia Designer at the National Headquarters of the national band fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi, and the national band sorority, Tau Beta Sigma.

Here at HQ, I serve as the in-house graphics, media, and marketing department. With each new event, campaign, and publication, it is my responsibility to provide the visual enticement that will appeal to the target audience.

No event or campaign is larger in scope than our National Convention that brings both National Chapters together once every two years.

The Idea & Tagline:
“Thoroughbreds of Music”

At each National Convention, during the final joint session of the Fraternity and the Sorority, a video is shown to reveal to all the attending brothers and sisters where the next convention will be held in 2 years. In 2013, the duty to create this video was mine.

At the end of the video, I wanted to end with a big visual to punctuate it.

Since we would be in Lexington, Kentucky, Horse Capital of the World, in 2015, my mind immediately went to incorporating horses. Since we are band organizations, of course I wanted to marry the theme of the locale with our principle love of music. “Thoroughbreds of Music” popped into my head and I slid it into the video.

Screenshot from the announcement video. Full video here 

Everybody seemed to really like (and approve of — thank goodness!) the idea and expressed excitement over having a direction so well in advance.

Early the next year, it was time to present my overall vision for the convention’s branding.

The Presentation:
The Horse, The Rose, & The Carnation

The first thing I like to do is set the mood for myself before sketching or designing anything. I pull things that have a certain look related to the project that inspire me.

I wanted the visuals to reflect the location and the theme. I also wanted to identify elements that I could use throughout promoting and publications.

Mood Board

Over a year prior to the 2015 National Convention, I put together a brand development presentation for the national leadership to get approval for the logo for the convention as well as the 2015 National Intercollegiate Band. I broke down all my design decisions.

2015 National Convention logo w/ breakdown on its meaning

I wanted everything to correlate and the visual message to be consistent.

National Intercollegiate Band logo and its correlation w/ overall brand

I included my ideas for the shirts as well.

All of my work for this convention was motivated by my desire to give all participants and attendees the feeling they are a part of something special. The unique visuals are tailored for THIS event. My predecessor had done such a great job at giving past conventions personalities of their own. With this being my first convention where I would be the designer, I wanted to put a great stamp on this one!

Official wordmark

Having an official wordmark is important for use on forms and other text heavy documents and materials related to the event. It also gives you an additional tool to use in promotion and completes the visual brand.

The Execution:
The Not Easy But Fun Part

To build the excitement, I created a series of graphics with the same call-to-action (the website and “REGISTER NOW”) to spread across all of our social media outlets. A constant stream of hype, reminders, and event details was necessary to keep the 2015 National Convention on the minds of students and alumni.

Consistency is key.

Examples of the graphics used on social media to promote #NatCon2015

NOTE: I like using photos of brothers and sisters in promotional material because it gives it a personal touch and gives them a chance to see themselves featured on the national level. I love seeing the excitement when they recognize themselves or their chapter being featured.

The cover photo of the Facebook pages of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma was changed to be a constant reminder of the upcoming event. When an organization is hosting an event, the event branding should be seen as much as possible and the graphic should spark action. I also included a hashtag, which has become extremely important for any social event.

The cover photo used in the months leading into #NatCon2015

Know your audience.

Using district pride to provide another angle of promotion

Each National Chapter is split into 6 Districts so I created 6 distinct promotional flyers for each. I wanted to tap into district pride to inspire extra motivation to register, attend, and to represent! They are consistent enough to show they are within the same organizations but different enough to reflect each district’s region and personality.

Off To The Printer

For the actual printed programs, I wanted the tangible material everyone would be taking home with them to reflect how special this event really is. For the cover of the official participants guide, I illustrated an original thoroughbred (w/ a band member rider) and a gradient to give an artistic look. This simple illustration worked so well that I used it throughout the program, on voting placards, and other materials.

From the overall theme to the marketing to the printed materials, it was a lot more work that I could have ever imagined. But it was well worth it!

I love my job.

~b.