At Emspace + Lovgren, our work revolves around making connections and leveraging our network. This opportunity began through a conversation with a member of the ConnectGO communications committee. He mentioned his organization was interested in expanding support for the Great Plains Black History Museum, and the more we talked, the more we wanted to learn.
Elizebeth took a tour with Eric L. Ewing, the museum’s Executive Director, to see the space and discuss how Emspace + Lovgren could partner to increase its visitors. Our enthusiasm grew as we looped in more team members, and we were excited to eventually engage the museum as a pro bono client.
The museum is expertly curated and a joy to visit, but it’s easy to miss despite its prime location on North 24th Street. Eric detailed the challenges of being in a temporary space that’s also a historic building — no signage could be permanent or potentially damaging.
Our first priority was to evaluate the strengths of the museum’s logo and bring them through in a refreshed, attention-grabbing mark. We made sure to continue incorporating the Adinkra symbol “Nea Onnim No Sua A, Ohu,” meaning, “He who does not know, can know.” The new design utilizes a timeless, bold typeface to boost its power and readability, and replacing the previous logo’s acronym with the museum’s full name front and center helps viewers know what’s found in the building.
Next, we researched signage that could be cost effective, highly visible and work within the limitations of a historic building. Akin to other museums, we developed large, vertical banners to hang in the windows on each side of the location’s corner. We also created an evergreen banner advertisement to display across the street year-round, encouraging viewers to schedule a visit.
“People think the new signage looks great,” Eric said. “I see people driving by then slowing down, it’s really catching their attention.”
Once we addressed the space’s physical obstacles, we took the refreshed mark out into the world. We created stickers and window decals for museum advocates to proudly display, branded Zoom backgrounds for virtual engagements, social media profile pictures, business cards, digital event cover photos, and a tablecloth and pop-up banner stand for events. Each piece ensures the museum has a consistent brand presence, whether online or in person.
The launch of the new mark coincided with the new year, which meant a brand-new exhibition focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). We partnered with the museum to promote a special “preview” event for new board members, donors, media partners and friends of the museum to see the logo in action and explore the exhibit. We also promoted a follow-up Black History Month happy hour that built connections between Nebraska’s HBCU + Greek Collaborative and the museum — an opportunity to forge new relationships with younger community members and gather HBCU artifacts for following months’ exhibits. Each of these events gave us the chance to flesh out the brand further, designing secondary elements for invitations and posters.
As we wrap up this phase of our work with the Great Plains Black History Museum, we’re pleased to have partnered with such a great client. We look forward to future opportunities to help deepen connections with the community by activating the museum and surrounding neighborhood. The museum is preserving, educating and exhibiting the history of our region’s Black community, and we encourage everyone to visit this month — and throughout the year.