Few things excite me more in my position at Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Headquarters than getting an e-mail asking me to design a new logo for a Fraternity or Sorority program or initiative. My love of designing logos is well documented at this point. So how do you think I responded to a request to re-design the Kappa Kappa Psi awards page with 10+ new logos?
Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity & Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority promote the advancement of college and university bands. The organizations share a national headquarters and a national publication. The PODIUM is that national publication.
As Publications Manager & Multimedia Designer, this publication is one of my main responsibilities. Every semester (spring and fall), an issue of The PODIUM is produced and sent to chapters and alumni members across the country. According to The PODIUM Online, the purpose of the publication is “a show-window of the college band world” and “serves as a snapshot of the Fraternity, Sorority, and the college & university band at the time”.
Published across multiple mediums, The PODIUM articles cover a wide range of topics relevant to Kappa Kappa Psi, Tau Beta Sigma, and the greater college band world. Articles aim to educate, entertain, and inspire those engaged in the exciting world of the college band through the exchange of ideas, experiences, and expertise.
I’ve come a long way since I arrived in the National Headquarters in April of 2013. Before that time, I had never used Adobe InDesign before. Within months on job, I had to learn enough of the program to produce a 44-48 page magazine. Recently, the 9th issue I’ve designed was released into the world. Visually, I feel like this is the best one I’ve done. The Fall 2017 issue of The PODIUM is the culmination of subtle and not so subtle changes to the layout over the years.
The Cover / The Theme
Every cover I’ve designed reflects the theme of that particular edition of The PODIUM. I’ve written before about what a magazine cover is suppose to do. The Fall 2017 theme is the post-National Convention recap, which is the theme of most odd year fall issues. With this being my 3rd post-National Convention issue, I continued the tradition of using the official National Convention photo of the attendees. My initial idea was to have the photo cover the entire area and place The PODIUM logo within the picture. However, due to the dimensions of the photo, I had come up with a new idea.
I made two copies of the photo, with one serving as a background and another in the foreground. I overlayed the light to dark blue gradient (made with the same blues from the 2017 NatCon logo) onto the large background photo. I placed the smaller version of the photo on top as if it was a physical photo laying on top of a table. Drop shadow was added to the photo to help with the effect. I placed the official 2017 NatCon logo with the text “CONVENTION EDITION” at the bottom to put a stamp on this particular issue’s theme.
The Inside / The Articles
Throughout my years here, I’ve experimented with the design of the inside of the magazine in an effort to improve and evolve the magazine. I’ve altered the masthead, the calendar of events, and the From The Executive Director page. I’ve completely overhauled the table of contents and other elements, drawing inspiration from professional, entertainment, and other fraternal publications.
Subtle yet important touches include increasing the space between text columns as well as the space from the edges of pages. The additional white space makes the magazine cleaner overall.
In the Fall 2017 issue, I’ve arrived at an article format I really like. I gave the title text more weight and have an excerpt that acts as a preview of the content within. I’m very visually satisfied with this layout, which is still flexible throughout the magazine. The tradition of using one of the colors of the author’s school continues in this issue and work well in this new style.
The National Officers section is where National Leadership submits articles for publication. They usually promote national initiatives and/or provide important news or advice to members. I completely changed this section to be more readable with dark text on white paper. The blue top and bottom sections let the reader know they are in a different section with a different purpose. I always want to design something that is clean yet still distinctive. The author and their title moved to the top to make room for their photo. Having the officer’s photo beside their article puts a face to the important name, creating that connection for the reader.
I’ve gotten great feedback on this latest issue of The PODIUM magazine. It’s the closest to what I’ve always wanted to The Podium to be visually. Through trial and error, research, and the support of those who I work with I learned how to make a national magazine and then how to steadily improve it. I’ll always strive for greater design, clean yet creative, for the Fraternity and the Sorority.
I currently serve as the Publications Manager & Multimedia Designer at the National Headquarters of Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma. In our office, I am the only one exclusively dedicated to graphic design. I’m THE graphic design professional at HQ. I consider myself a one-man graphics wrecking crew! As such, I’m responsible for using my skill set to promote the brand of the Fraternity and Sorority.
Being in-house, for me, means being able to apply my knowledge and translate my love for the organizations into visually appealing and communicative art. As an in-house designer, I personally know and care about everything I do. It’s not just a job for me. I really get to live with the brands. I also get to help evolve those brands and then apply that evolution across various mediums. The deep connections I have with the Fraternity and Sorority helps me do better, more relevant work that will stand the test of time.
Instead of starting fresh every project, I’m working with people who have developed trust in me that’s built over time. We learn how we work and how to produce the best product. The creative process becomes easier. Also, I’m there to help manage all the designs and publications that are housed underneath these two larger umbrellas. I’ve re-designed both national websites and designed the Tau Beta Sigma visual brand identity and guidelines. I have a lot of experience designing for the organizations. This gives me ever-growing confidence to know I can properly showcase the personality of each in an impactful way each time.
“I see in-house design as a valuable resource, with in-depth knowledge and custodianship of a brand,”
Kate Bates, design manager at the British Library.
I feel that I am in a place where not just my work but my mind is valued. I’m not just asked to complete a task. I’m asked what I think about that direction. I’m asked how best to present information. I’m given creative freedom as well as creative clarity. There is a certain ownership you can take when you’re an in-house designer. There is a personal investment you’re making as well as an investment being made in you.
Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity was founded on the campus of Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) in Stillwater, Oklahoma on November 27, 1919. At this year’s National Convention, with 2019 approaching, we kicked off the countdown to the centennial! To do this, we needed a logo that would be the centerpiece of all centennial branding and promotion.
One of my favorite things about being Publications Manager & Multimedia Designer for Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma is the amount of different types of projects I’ve done and will do. There is never a shortage of programs, initiatives, publications, and promotional material that need my design expertise. Everything I design here is an opportunity to deposit something of importance into the history of these organizations and this National Headquarters office.
The National Leadership of Kappa Kappa Psi National Band Fraternity wanted to encourage alumni brothers to become Life Members, while also celebrating the birthday of Bohumil Makovsky – the Guiding Spirit of the Fraternity.
Bohumil Makovsky was the Director of Bands and Head of the Department of Music at Oklahoma A&M College (now – Oklahoma State University) during the founding of Kappa Kappa Psi. He was born on September 23, 1878. So, on September 23, 2016, Kappa Kappa Psi had a one day only, 20% off sale on Life Memberships.
As the National Publications Manager at Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Headquarters, The Podium falls within my purview. Twice a year (Fall and Spring), we send this national publication to chapters and alumni across the nation. When they receive and open their package, the first thing they will see is the cover. The design of the cover is important to the overall presentation of the magazine. There is a reason why getting on the cover of certain publications is considered a big deal in the entertainment industry. The cover image is in many ways the “logo” of that particular issue. It is a condensed representation of that publication’s brand and that issue. It is worth investing serious effort.