National Leadership Conference. Also, known as NLC.
NLC is the event that happens every summer where district officers, counselors, and governors come together along with national leadership to discuss how to better serve Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma as well as college and university bands. It is a very important event for the Fraternity and Sorority. So, as with every other event hosted by the organizations, it needed a logo. As the National Publications Manager & Multimedia Designer (my title is boss), it fell on me to provide such.
Obviously, the first thought that came to mind was how to represent leadership. Leadership describes the participants as well as speaks to the goal of the event itself. When I thought leadership, my mind went to podium (or lectern). Often during meetings and conventions, presiding officers speak from behind one. In Adobe Illustrator, I tried a few options for the illustration of a lectern.
Once I had the base I wanted, I thought about what else I could put on it. I could have tried to put both the Fraternity and the Sorority crests on the design. However, I wanted to do something that fit more seamlessly with the design. The star in the center of the lectern represents Kappa Kappa Psi. Much of the Kappa Kappa Psi brand uses the star. The director baton represents Tau Beta Sigma. Also, if you turn the entire logo clockwise 90 degrees, you can see the bottom of the lectern is a musical staff. I love fitting in subtle references to organizations in my designs at work.
To complete the design, I used the font Trajan to write the names of the organizations, “NLC”, and National Leadership Conference around the logo. The NLC is most prominent because that’s the most commonly used name for the event. I’m a fan of Trajan because it gives off a level of official sophistication that I like. I adjusted the kerning above and below so that the additional text would cover a good amount of the length.
Overall, the logo looks really nice.
Hopefully, I’ve created something that will stand the test of time.
There is a great value to inspiration. Inspiration makes you feel something. It influences you. It stimulates you to do something creative. It’s the spark that can ignite an ever burning flame. The need for inspiration is real. However, you need not limit your sources of inspiration.
One of the sources can be and should be real life.
No matter your area of expertise, getting outside for inspiration provides you with a fresh view. As a graphic designer, of course I am inspired by the outstanding work I see from the designers I follow. I’m also inspired by the work I see out and about. I’m inspired by people, nature, scenery, etc. For example, let’s say you’re trying to design a brand identity for a city or town. You’ll want to look at other municipal branding projects to see what other cities have done. But the best way to get started is to take in the city itself. Take photos of the landmarks. Talk to the citizens. Walk around and get a feel for the city. The inspiration is around you. When trying to capture a specific locale, you need to experience it and know the nature of the scene. That will allow you create the symbols/icons you need.
Looking at other similar logos can be inspiring but just doing that is limiting. Taking in the real life outside live and through photos challenges you to interpret in an original way. Capture the originality of your own perspective. There are a lot of tigers, panthers, lions, etc. in the world of sports. The reason why there’s such a variety of designs is because each designer has captured a unique perspective of the animal through photo references. A tiger is a tiger, but what you pull from its features is what makes your design yours. If you’re only looking at others’ interpretations, you’re limiting the potential of your own creativity.
Every project you take on may not have a direct example you can look to as a guide. Play with the perspective and the visual representation of things that currently exist in the world. Get creative with how you use the elements you see. Expand your sources of inspiration as much as you possibly can. It will often surprise you where the spark will come from.
That spark could also come from outside of the market that you’re operating in. When I create branding for Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Convention, I am pulling inspiration from other fraternities and sororities. However, I more so pull inspiration from the Super Bowl, Final Four, NHL, NBA, Oscars, Grammys, etc. Dreaming big means you’ll bring the most value to each and every project. I want my work to be able to stand in the same room as the work from much larger brands in much larger markets. I’m not limiting myself to work like mine. I’m inspired by great work across genres, styles, and markets.
To be the best version of yourself, you need to keep your mind and eye open.
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.
July 18, 2017.
Hilton Buena Vista Palace – Disney Springs.
Brothers and sisters from across the country arrived to pick up their registration packets for the 2017 National Convention of Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma. After months of work and years of anticipation, people would get to see what we had been working on. It was on this day that much of my work was finally released into the wild. Seeing people rave about the official convention shirt and flip through their convention souvenir program/schedule really made me happy. I pour a lot into the branding of every national convention. I want my designs to not only look good but work well. Many confirmed to me, throughout the week, that I had achieved both. I never do what I do for attention, accolades, or praise. Those things are the beautiful by-products of the time and effort put in. The appreciation received validated that effort.
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…
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.
Every two years, the brothers of Kappa Kappa Psi and the sisters of Tau Beta Sigma come together as national delegations to meet, fellowship, and direct the future of the organizations. Each event has its own identity. It’s one of my responsibilities as Publications Manager to create and present that identity visually. With the 2017 National Convention of Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma to be in Orlando, Florida, I am excited to craft the visual story of this event.