Devine Design! Democracy Edition!

With elections under a week away, what better design to talk about than a design campaign for a local school district! Strong communities require strong communication. And to execute an effective design, the client and designer need to have the same principles, especially when there’s dollar signs involved. I’m already paying the schools enough! Why do you need more money? That’s the challenge you can often face. It can be a touchy subject. So NOCS came to us at AlphaGraphics Westlake not only to provide our printing and mailing services, but to visually tell their story as a community on a comeback. How to address this? Essentially, like many how-to’s, it’s done in three simple steps.

1: Address the Problem

nocs bulletin front

What are your main issues? Who is bearing the brunt as a consequence? NOCS had many issues to cover. An 84-year-old middle school being one of their biggest concerns. Students aren’t benefiting from constant retrofitted repairs, outdated classrooms, and improvised facilities.  Taxpayers would rather see real improvements from their money. Ever know the feeling of replacing parts on an aging car? In the end, it can be cheaper just to trade in for a newer model. A 4-page brochure was the first step to bringing these subjects to light.

And their philosophy I felt was brilliant. The tone was to be like a business proposal. I think we can all agree we hate hearing from levies and campaigns of what will happen if we DON’T vote in favor. Programs cut, shorter staff, less value, the list goes on. This was a business proposal, not a ransom note.

So the story kicked off with a letter from the superintendent addressing these issues. The community was the character and like any story, the character is at a crossroads in their life. And like any successful story, a reader must be engaged, as they feel they are part of the story. What better characterization than those involved are a future generation and those who are investing in it.

The interior spread dives deeper, visually displaying the issues at hand, while the story goes on about the solutions and proposition for the community. Time is fleeting when talking with voters, or anyone you knock on their door in the form of mail. Small bullets of text closely linked with photos are a great way to drive the message forward if they choose not to read the whole page.

nocs bulletin inside

One challenge discussed with the first mailer was fear the 4-pager wouldn’t even be opened. Five key points were listed about what would be done should the proposition move forward by voters. One final photo of the 84-year-old middle school gave identity to why those points were there. Especially with one more almighty subtext closely linked to the photo addressing a major issue for the school system.

nocs bulletin back

2: Address the Solution

nocs invite postcard

Phase 1 focused on the problem with tidbits of the solution. Phase 2 drove home the possible future with a beautiful concept illustration from the proposed architects should the project move forward. There’s nothing like free samples to make one want more. Conceptual visuals are a great way to get another chance at gaining momentum on your campaign. Not only did this piece address the solution, it offers another key tool to grabbing attention: asking for their involvement. NOCS wanted to hear from everybody. With a campaign like this, there’s going to be voiced concerns. What better way than to hear it first hand and get everyone to be part of the process.

3: Remind Your Audience

issue 9 postcard

Remind them you’re still thinking about them. It’s one last chance to grab their attention, and clear the air on any concerns or important bits of info they NEED to know. In this case, helping voters understand what the legal jargon really means on the ballot. While this piece was technically NOT NOCS, the involvement of the issue at hand was similar, so we felt is wise to keep the same colors as the last two pieces. This helped residents know if was another mailer talking about the school issue.

issue 9 postcard - backIn hopes of creating a strong communication line from the District to the Community, North Olmsted City Schools is counting on voters to get a Yes vote November 4th. If you're in the North Olmsted area and would like to read more on this issue, you can learn more at