When we develop identities at Oxide, we have two core goals. First is to create something that accurately and meaningfully captures what truly makes the client unique. Second is to craft it with several levels of depth: an engaging first impression, and more compelling aspects that are revealed after further investment in the mark.

Big Omaha 2009 posterBig Omaha 2009 poster

The real challenge when branding the Big Omaha conference was to pay homage to the history of Omaha, while recognizing its place as a front runner in the Silicon Prairie. We wanted the identity to be uniquely “Omaha”, while conveying the conference’s core qualities of innovation and entrepreneurship. So, what symbology would be perfectly accurate?

First, Omaha

We spent a lot of time determining what things are uniquely specific to Omaha. While many people associate corn, plains, and even football with Nebraska, we wanted something more specific to Omaha the city. Top vote-getters for concepts that come to mind for Omaha are railroads, music, baseball, and meat packing. We ended up ruling out the trains because they’re so closely tied to a single Omaha company that’s not associated with the conference. Music and baseball were the next to go, not wanting to define the city through widely recognizable, but ultimately minor, aspects of our identity. That left us with Omaha’s rich heritage in the beef industry. Special bonus? Cows are kitschy and kinda funny-looking.

Some initial word concepting and thumbnail sketches for the Big Omaha identity. This is just one big sheet from our myriad sketches, scribbles, and concepts.Some initial word concepting and thumbnail sketches for the Big Omaha identity. This is just one big sheet from our myriad sketches, scribbles, and concepts.

Secondly, the nature of the conference

If nothing else, Big Omaha will be known as the place where the biggest names and brightest lights in emerging and visionary business will speak. Oxide’s brainstorming process yielded a common thread among all attendees – an unyielding sense of daring, adventure, and exploration. We wanted to be able to convey all of these qualities in an abstract form.

All of this led to the creation of two identity concepts that centered around cows and adventure. As I noted to Jeff and Dusty when we presented the initial concepts, “our overarching intent has been to capture Omaha’s unique character and pair it with an sense of quest/chance/escapade”. We feel that the end product is particularly successful due to the absolute trust that Silicon Prairie News put in Oxide’s professional expertise.

We collaborated with Jeff and Dusty to select the most effective solution, and the rest is history. And the future.

The first iteration of what would eventually become the final identity. The stand-in people icons shown in this sketch were later custom illustrated by Adam Torpin.The first iteration of what would eventually become the final identity. The stand-in people icons shown in this sketch were later custom illustrated by Adam Torpin.
The other primary concept, which was not selected. This was a more literal combination of the history of Omaha's beef heritage with the modern sense of adventure and exploration.The other primary concept, which was not selected. This was a more literal combination of the history of Omaha’s beef heritage with the modern sense of adventure and exploration.

View the project page for Big Omaha 2009.