Nan Mellem Publishing (NMP) banner ads for the NACE website and new client direct email campaign.

600 x 500, 72 PPI banner ad for NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) website.
The ad ran for the month of November.
72 PPI email artwork for new client outreach.

CRM (College Recruitment Media) reserved a booth at the NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) National Conference every year. Our attendance at NACE had a two-fold purpose for CRM—to recruit new schools as publishing partners, and to allow our sales team face time with advertising clients.

Our booth was a standard 10 x 10 size with a table (or two) and two chairs. I designed two 35.5″ x 78″ banners to occupy the rear of the booth. Our tables were toward the front of the booth with books from the previous year of production.

Our banners from 2011-2017:

The book cover banner was assembled in InDesign, but I did the cover collage in Photoshop. We extended the life of the banner by removing the dates from the covers, but some of these clients left over the life of the banner. The text banner on the right contains CRM’s mission statement.

In 2018, we did an extensive redesign of our NACE marketing materials under the direction of the new owners, Sue Peterson and Pete Hanson. It was time to replace those banners anyway, and it was a fun way for them to rebrand and kick off their tenure.

The Redesigns

My brief from Sue was very simple, she wanted a few updated design options for consideration. She said we’d be using the same stands we already owned.

Having worked on these banners before, I fetched the files from 2011 and stripped them, and then I walked away from the computer.

Here are the factors I felt I needed to address: timeless artwork, copy to appeal to career center personnel, and the now de rigueur defense of print.

Why timeless artwork? Longevity. Sue and Pete showed a willingness to invest in a new set of banners each year. But I knew if I could come up with a pleasing option that saved the company $$ it would give them flexibility to make a choice to reprint instead of having an assured annual expenditure.

The second aspect of timelessness I needed to address was how to handle the coming and going of schools from our roster. That ruled out using the front covers of the books any more.

Why just career center staff? What about the employers? Around 2015-16 CRM shifted focus to career center staff outreach at NACE. Our sales staff was busily engaged in the height of sales in June, and they felt their time was better spent continuing to sell ad space for our existing clients. Tim Clancy had noticed a trend in the attendance at NACE favoring career center staff over employers. Those two factors combined led to the logical shift.

Why defend print? Ok, here we go…Nan’s Reflections on Print. Since the birth of the internet, we’ve been hearing “print is dead.” The mere fact we are still having this conversation in 2019 means print is a bit more durable than the naysayers would have us believe. Print has been repurposed, reinvented, and streamlined to coexist with the internet. It is, however, still in demand—even by today’s college students! Print is having a hard time, though, because the budget(s) supporting print are drying up or non-existent.

I could take a much deeper dive into this topic, but we’re on this page so I can SHOW YOU THE ART!

My new designs needed to achieve all of the above, and clip art was not going make that happen. I charged up the battery on my camera, and had a little basement photoshoot. That “print is dead” line was on repeat in my brain, but I had a pleasing stack of 2017-18 Career Guides on my shelf and an idea was taking shape in my mind. Raw photos:

After a bit of work in Photoshop and InDesign, 1st drafts of these final banners were born. I’ve just given away the end of the story here—this was the design we used. My first version did not include CRM’s Mission Statement. The rest of the copy was written by yours truly, and edited by Tim Clancy and Sue Peterson. The “Print is dead!” banner is verbatim what I wrote, but the “How?!?” banner was edited a bit.

The Also Rans

I was asked to provide a few options for consideration, you’ll recall. When this is the case, there is often a front-runner in my mind, and whatever made the option above appeal to me, it spoke to others as well. I’d been given a blessing to play with design, so play I did!

Here’s the far-out version (when given the chance to do 3 designs, I always push one way outside the comfort zone):

The menu banner was going to need some work. On the second round I would have changed the background to something softer that white, and those mushrooms were going to need some cleaning up. No clip art was used in this option either…that’s my sandwich sketch and watercolor artwork from this spread in my 2017 moleskine:

The 3rd version was the “safe” version. There was no high concept, the background is blue, and the text is brief. What made this option stand out is that I presented them with 3 panels. Perhaps we’d print up all three for flexibility?

The Extras

In addition to the banners, I also created a 3 x 8.5″ bookmark to hand out. Slightly different cropping than the banners, and we added contact information to the second side.

Annnnd…screen wipes. Here’s the final version, and it’s ok.

It started out looking like the one below, and I wish I’d fought a bit harder for the fortune-teller version. I never expected anyone to actually fold the thing, because it was printed on cloth. That said, in addition to having a bit of swag (we’ll call that fun level 1), upon opening and unfolding the cloth, the recipient would have discovered all the good fortunes (fun level 2). Oh well, at least I had fun.

Thanks for hanging in there with me for this long read!