17 May 2012

Library Recruitment Print and Video Campaign

The first of our library recruitment campaign television spots aired this month. The 30-second spots appear locally on MNBC, VH1, OWN, Oxygen, Animal Planet, LIFE, and BET. Each spot features staff members from our very own libraries who offer a brief testimonial about what it is about the library that makes it special for them.

I was asked to develop a marketing campaign concept that would raise awareness of the library's employment opportunities. I provided two and after approval moved forward to bring the concept to fruition. Six months and 273 other unrelated promotional marketing print projects later, the first of our three planned recruitment campaign tv spots reached the small screen.

The concept--which was intended to impart the idea that the library is an institution reflective of the unique individuals who work in it, thus allowing the viewer to be able to imagine themselves working there--eventually homogenized down into something less focused on individual attributes they brought to the library to one more toward corporate talking points. Nevertheless, the spots were a good starting point for a library that is mindful about making the most out of the thin dollars it has to spend on publicity. The recruitment ads serve as an effort to raise awareness to a diverse pool of potential employees, and thus fulfills that corporate, government, and civic endeavour.

Although I haven't personally seen the spots on television yet, I have probably seen each over 50 times while in production, nit-picking over every minute detail even as it made its way out the door to the cable station. It might be surprising to the casual viewer to know just how much time and energy is invested in such a small, brief item. It took a small village of people--starting with the on-screen talent, all the way through the crew of people behind the scenes, from campaign conception, management approval, technical production services, through final implementation. 

The recruitment campaign will not only appear on screen, but will also appear in print, extending its impact and life span onward through untold years to come. A sample of one of the ads appears below.
The design convention that features employees with their testimonials on
what they love about the library.

04 May 2012

Library (Signage) Helps You Find Your Way

Can't find your way? Let the Library show you!
As a point of fact, our library is a fantastic resource for information and a wellspring of knowledge. There are some things it does well, and others that, shall we say, does a little "too well." Case in point, showing visitors the way out of our downtown Headquarters Library. 

Since my arrival at the library a couple of years ago, I've always marveled at how many EXIT signs (and derivatives thereof) keep popping up to point visitors out through the appropriate front door exit. Every few months, I go back to our lobby in part simply for my amusement as well as to more specifically count those signs:

One...two...ten...eighteen...more...are you kidding me? For four doors?

I, probably like a couple others (I'm sure we're an endangered species), will actually camp out to watch the traffic flow, paying careful attention to what visitors look at as they enter and exit the building. I want to see where their eyes are going, what catches their attention first, second, last. The interaction between visitor and the environment varies, of course, but by and large most people have been successfully "trained" to pass through a "metal detector" looking structure that scans for RFID stickers in front of one of the doors. Other visitors, however, probably consider the device an obstruction of some kind and decide to avoid it in favour of two other doors that appear to be more accessible--until they read the sign(s) on them.

Our lobby has four sliding glass doorways, two of which are identified as fire exits only, one as an entrance as indicated on both sides, and one as an exit, also indicated on both sides. In addition to that, library staff have printed numerous 8.5x11 pages to mount on windows, walls, and pedestals with ropes attaching them together that act as a funnel to guide visitors through to the RFID tag detector and the only door specified for exiting. The mass result looks like the photo above, compiling an impressive 20 or so signs that say "EXIT."

Why so many? Is it that difficult for visitors to find the exit? The obvious answer must be "yes!" otherwise some of those signs wouldn't be there. But the resulting visual clutter is an unsightly environmental chaos that looks tacky too. 

The challenge is how to fulfill city code requirements for emergency door access signage, yet reduce the overall number of signs it takes for the lowest common denominator of visitors to successfully navigate their way to the appropriate door. Just like "conduct code" signage, a balance needs to be struck between what is "reasonably sufficient," and what is "overkill."

Trust me, we have our crack team of experts working on it.

Library Garden Display Poster

Large format poster background etching, plus additional vegetable images for decoration.
Spring has sprung and if you're like my wife, you've already planted your home garden and are probably already eating from it too. At the library, we're promoting gardening awareness in May—whether it be for vegetables or flowers.

Background etching image prior to use.
I sourced for garden images—both photos and illustrations. Because of the display's enormous size, 116w x 83v inches, there are few very high quality photographic images that will scale up to that size. Instead, I sourced primarily for free public domain scalable vector illustrations. Once I had a few I thought had potential, I submitted them to the librarian requesting the display poster. Included in my submission were a variety of vegetables and a very nice, graphic line art etching style of leaves and flowers.

The librarian asked for a quote with a nice frame around it to be included on the poster. I set the quote in a nice, handwritten typeface (Jane Austen—freely available online) and made the box I placed it in semi transparent so the background etching image could be slightly visible through it. With the background etching image being so busy, I opted for a simple double ruled border around the quote. A design proof was created and emailed to the librarian for review, and upon reply approval I set up the file for printing.

Using our Hewlett-Packard DesignJet 800 large format printer, I printed background etching image in two long strips, then trimmed and spliced them together using double-sided tape. I printed the vegetables as large as I could on 11x17 inch paper and employed the help of a couple of volunteers to trim them out. My plan was to tape the vegetables up over top the etching background during installation.

Installation was easy; it took two people to place and pin to the bulletin board wall, and a third person to finish up with placement of the vegetables. I came back later to review it and was disappointed to find that all the vegetables had been placed in a very structured, angular fashion, rather than more organic, randomly placed one. But ok...what the heck; everyone's vision of a garden can be different!

All-in-all, the solution and execution was a simple and refined--and good timing too because two days after printing, the DesignJet printer broke and was out of commission for a week.
Background image printed in two strips, then taped together to create one large poster.