Okmulgee Rising, the downtown revitalization movement that has gained momentum over the last year, now has its own brand thanks to OSU Institute of Technology graphic design students.
School of Visual Communications instructor Mary Miller had the 17 students in her Identity and Branding class each come up with a logo and campaign for Okmulgee Rising. The students spent six weeks developing an identity package that included a logo design, brochure, motion graphic, web design, and social media meme. Faculty then narrowed the field to their top three finalists: Jennifer Jackson, Becca Patton and Abbey Robnett.
Members of the Okmulgee Main Street Board and Main Street Director Heather Sumner attended a presentation by all three finalists and chose Jennifer Jackson’s logo as the winner.
“I was amazed at the quality of work that the students presented. We knew their work would be top-notch, but they exceeded our expectations. They blew us away with their creativity and thought processes on the branding of Okmulgee Rising,” Sumner said, and it was very tough decision. “The board voted to use Jennifer Jackson’s logo because they felt it had the right look and feel for our Okmulgee Rising movement.”
The centerpiece of Jackson’s logo is a square symbolizing the downtown block surrounding the Muscogee (Creek) Council House.
“The way I started my design was with the Square. To me, it’s the heart of downtown,” she said.
Miller said the Okmulgee Rising logo project was an invaluable lesson for her students.
“It’s one thing to create branding solutions with a fictional creative brief and a Monopoly Money budget, but quite another to solve a client’s real problems within real budget constraints,” she said. “Our students rose to the challenge and impressed the Okmulgee Main Street Board with how professional their work was. We heard good reviews and how difficult the decision was for the board.”
All three finalists said seeing their peers’ work was great motivation and everyone learned from each other.
“I was so surprised, there was a real variety. Everyone had different ideas. We all had a different perspective,” said Becca Patton. “It was a great experience for sure.”
Jackson was happy to make the top three, and she loved seeing how her classmates worked.
“All three are great, but all three were different. It’s great for us to know as designers that we are on the right track,” she said. “Everyone was talking about their designs, why they did what they did. It was great to see how their heads work and their creativity.”
She said she was shocked when she heard her name called as the winning design.
“It’s neat to know this entire campaign is moving forward with my logo. That something we’re doing in school is incorporated into the real world,” Jackson said.
The identity development was a great way to get students thinking about the community that sits outside the campus boundaries, Miller said.
“This project was a fabulous challenge for the students and a great way for OSUIT to give back to our community. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Okmulgee Main Street,” Miller said. “We are a part of the community and want to continue to be a vital partner to strengthen and enrich the relationship between OSUIT and Okmulgee.”
Sumner hopes taking part in this project means the students will become invested in Okmulgee Rising and its success.
“We wanted to give the students an opportunity to be a part of history, something that is bigger than any of us can imagine,” she said. “Not only will this help the students with their future endeavors, but it also gave them ownership in Okmulgee Rising.”