Little Steps Cleaner Air

Branding and communications

Metropolitan Area Planning Agency
Client Since
Community & Health Services
AMA Omaha Silver Award: Little Steps Cleaner Air Website
PRSA Paper Anvil Awards of Excellence: Share the Air Social Media Campaign; Word-of-Mouth Marketing
PRSA Paper Anvil Award of Merit: Little Steps Cleaner Air Rebrand

Activating our community to improve air quality

On an average hot day, the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro comes close to exceeding the EPA’s acceptable level of ground-level ozone. Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) partnered with Emspace + Lovgren to spread the message of its federally-funded “Little Steps Big Impact” campaign, which seeks to educate the public about ways to lower emissions voluntarily. 

Following years of steady growth after its launch, the air quality conversation had changed — and so had our community. Working collaboratively with a committee of members from MAPA, Douglas County Health Department, City of Omaha Public Works, Verdis Group, Metro Transit and The Wellbeing Partners, Emspace + Lovgren updated and modernized the campaign’s brand identity, giving it more clarity, energy and relevance.


Curriculum booklet
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Increase in social media engagements


The original “Little Steps Big Impact” name was intended to communicate how easily an individual’s small changes could make a big difference in improving our community’s air quality. Unfortunately, the name was not specific to air quality, and the look and feel of the brand was dated. Red was the dominant color, which was perceived as harsh and alarmist. The typeface used was bold and strong, negating the ease and simplicity of the campaign’s messaging.

At the end of 2019, a professional survey company gauged how the campaign’s messaging was resonating with the community. These insights guided the direction of the new brand: “Making kids the champions” was effective in getting the idea across that small habit changes contribute to better air quality; the community was happy to take an active role in helping; and with less vehicle traffic during the pandemic, air quality improved, and people were beginning to understand that they really do have the power to impact our air through their actions. 

We decided it was time for “Little Steps” to go big with a rebrand. We proposed a name tweak to emphasize the intent of the campaign: Little Steps Cleaner Air. The brand identity was overhauled entirely — a new color palette evoked air and clarity; new typefaces communicated openness and friendliness; and new messaging was more forward about the information and actions desired. Tactics related to the rebrand launch and the subsequent new phase of the campaign included:

  • Growing awareness for the curriculum — In previous years, the campaign’s leaders recruited a local teacher to create a professional, comprehensive air quality curriculum that any educator could easily use in their classroom. We packaged it within the new brand and emphasized the areas where it was useful in remote/distance learning environments. The curriculum was accredited by Iowa and Nebraska to be taught in schools, and we spearheaded promotions to spread the word in the community. 

  • Leveraging online opportunities — We revamped the Little Steps Cleaner Air website to provide a more dynamic, content-rich experience. We introduced a new “Clean Air Pledge” on the website, a feature that gave LSCA the opportunity to measure the impact of its outreach and the growth of its movement in a more tangible way for the first time. Visitors could pledge how they would take steps to improve air quality, share personal stories, dedicate their pledge to a loved one, and sign up for the LSCA newsletter to stay connected. We also added a more robust LSCA curriculum page for educators with digital resources and Zoom recordings of presentations LSCA would normally share in classrooms. 

  • Showing up in the community — In a year of social distancing, we met people where they were: our extensive trail system. We developed literal steps with temporary, vinyl footprint decals applied to the concrete trails, communicating how individuals could help improve our air quality. We installed 20 sets across the community, including two Spanish sets and two sets in Council Bluffs. The website’s launch coincided with this outdoor guerrilla marketing campaign, leveraging both earned and social media to ensure a strong kick-off.

  • Providing practical tools — As the most visible, timely representation of air quality right now, masks were a clear place for our cleaner air message while also being a benefit to area residents. We produced adult and child-sized masks with our new brand and distributed them throughout the community.

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Increase in unique monthly website visitors


After launch in mid-2020, the website far surpassed all of our traffic objectives — exceeding our baseline metrics from the entire year of 2019 in less than three month’s time! Monthly unique visitors increased 16,002% (6,602 compared to 42), monthly sessions increased 18,158% (8,399 compared to 46) and monthly page views were up 15,051% (10,000 compared to 66). 

MAPA also partnered with Emspace + Lovgren for social media support to spread the message of the Little Steps Cleaner Air campaign further. The #ShareTheAir campaign was a huge success — LSBI saw an 83% growth in followers and a 300% increase in social engagement.