Every year, AIGA Nebraska holds a competition showcasing the best design work done in the state over the previous twelve months. Now in its 23rd year, The Show features the best professional and student work in Nebraska, serving as a great cross-section of the design work being done across the state.

Examples of The Show's branding from previous years.Examples of The Show’s branding from previous years

Recently, we were approached by AIGA Nebraska to give The Show a new name and consistent identity. In years past, the only commonality from year to year was the name itself. This new approach would be a single identity they could use going forward to tie the competition together over the coming years. It had to be flexible enough to work within the framework of whatever the look of each year’s Show would be, yet live on its own as The Show’s standalone identity.

We knew going in this was going to be a challenge not only because of the parameters but also because this was going to be used by AIGA Nebraska, the statewide organization of design professionals. Needless to say, there was a little bit of pressure to create something that would satisfy such an opinionated group.

Before we could start any visual work on the identity we had to first get the new name figured out. We wanted a name that would evoke the prestigious nature of the award show and something that wouldn’t just say “local exhibition”. Although this is just an exhibition focusing on Nebraska designers, we wanted the name to feel bigger. We came up with three viable options:

Concept sketchesConcepting on a potential new name for The Show
  • The Howland Annual Design Awards
    (For a little background, William H. Howland was a founding member of AIGA and the first national president.)
  • The Ruler Design Awards
    (A play on words combining one of the traditional tools of design with the concept of being at the top of your game.)
  • Extra Bold Awards
    (Another play on words, this time merging a common typography term with the idea of being particularly strong or impactful.)

In the end it was decided that because the title – The Show – is well known to designers in Nebraska, changing it now would mean throwing away the valuable equity it already has.

Concept sketchesConcept sketches for The Show logo

After getting the naming figured out, we moved onto to the visual identity. Because the title of the exhibition is a relatively common term, it needed a recognizable identity. We went through many rounds of sketches and brainstorming but in the end kept coming back to the same concept. The idea that the event’s title – “show” – is open to interpretation as either a noun or a verb. This duality was something we focused on in the logo.

The result we developed is a deceptively simple solution using just the word “Show” with some subtle additions. We included a period making the word an imperative verb, suggesting that “you should do this”. We also included just a hint of a curtain being drawn back to reveal something, playing up the concept of “showing”. Lastly, we used Interstate, one of the two corporate typefaces of AIGA, to maintain consistency with the larger AIGA brand.

New logo for AIGA Nebraska's The ShowNew logo for AIGA Nebraska’s Show

Mark your calendars now – this year’s Show will take place on 14 November. It’s never too early to start gathering your entries for the competition!

View the project page for AIGA Nebraska: The Show.