The Faculty Summit gathers NOLS wilderness instructors from across the globe in Lander, Wyoming, for three days of staff development and good old-fashioned camaraderie. Less is definitely more when impressing this audience.
print production coordinator
print production coordinator
The target attendees were a group of casual outdoorsy folks, some of whom lived in their vehicles and camped between leading wilderness expeditions.
There's a very fine line between keeping it simple and overdoing it with this crowd—they want to be appreciated and know this event is professional, but wouldn't dare be part of something wasteful.
As the inaugural event, we needed this event to go well. We needed instructors to trust that this would be worth their time and personal investment. The stakes were high: if it didn't go well this first year, it wouldn't likely get funding again. We'd lose an opportunity for consistent training, unity among instructors, valuable roundtable discussions, and in-person moments in an organization that's divided into dozens of locations around the world.
A Personal Touch
We sent postcard invitations, with room for a personal, hand-written "hello" from the staffing coordinators instructors knew personally from the Field Staffing Office.
Zero Waste + Under Budget
To support sustainability efforts, no cups were provided for an evening social. Instead, attendees received a pint glass, doubling as event swag. We printed in white to emulate a simple, etched effect to stay under budget and contribute to a zero-waste goal for the event.
Nametags + Schedules
With a tiny budget and knowing the event name tags would only be used for a few days, I designed something practical but not at all wasteful. Organizational standards for sustainability as well as instructors' high standards for environmental ethics dictated a very simple product.
• We printed small booklets, including a data merge for each participant's name and identifying details
• French-folded the inside pages (made from the backsides of our used office paper)
• Stapled them to form name tag booklets that included the schedule and a facility map
• I directed [bribed] a team of under-paid interns to assemble the final product
The event program provided the schedule, speaker bios, and workshop descriptions. A few attendees actually gave negative feedback regarding the expense of printing the covers in color. We anticipated this and weighed the option before the event, but we ultimately chose to print the covers in color. Less is definitely more when impressing this audience.
One key component of this design was that it would be easy-to-replicate-next-year layout. Remember, we're an in-house creative team at a nonprofit—doing the best we can with limited resources.
What I Learned
• Less is more, especially when connecting with this audience.
• It can be fun to design under extreme restrictions: our budget, sustainability initiative, and audience presented unique design challenges.