Omaha by Design advocates for people-centered urban design in the Omaha metro, working to enrich and strengthen neighborhoods and public spaces to ensure a vibrant, livable city for all.
Inspired by “open doors” events in other cities, Omaha by Design partnered with Emspace + Lovgren to name the local, inaugural event and design its brand identity. Open Omaha offers behind-the-scenes access to more than 50 of the Omaha-Council Bluffs area’s most captivating spaces, including historic cultural institutions, creative workspaces, beautiful religious buildings and breathtaking performance spaces.
We studied similar, established open doors events in other cities, including Doors Open Minneapolis, Open House Chicago, Doors Open Milwaukee, Doors Open Denver, and Doors Open Toronto, to get a feel for language and visuals that were working well.
The name “Open Omaha” was presented to relate to the broad goals of the event: to open doors and invite exploration of the metro area’s diverse neighborhoods, businesses, cultural institutions and historic resources; to open minds of all ages and backgrounds to the many opportunities in the metro; and to open conversations about the metro’s future to foster civic engagement and collaborative effort.
To support event attendance and volunteer recruitment, Emspace + Lovgren crafted colorful, captivating creative assets for digital and print use, contributed iconography and other digital assets to an interactive event app, and launched a strong communications and public relations campaign to spread the word about the first-ever Open Omaha.
We sent a press release and media advisories to call for volunteers, raise awareness of the event and secure live coverage during the weekend. Those efforts produced several stories in print, broadcast and online publications before and during the event. Many of the 52 participating venues posted multiple times on their social media accounts before and during Open Omaha.
To ensure the event was as accessible as possible, Omaha by Design used sponsorship dollars to provide free rides on all Omaha Metro buses during the weekend to anyone who showed their event app or printed Open Omaha guide to the bus driver. Within the guide, our design noted venues that accommodated people with physical disabilities.
The first Open Omaha was a success: more than 100 people volunteered, and participating venues experienced more than 6,000 unique site visits. Our earned media efforts yielded more than 500,000 potential audience impressions, and 25 sponsors contributed nearly $100,000, nine of which had not previously worked with Omaha by Design.
For two decades, Omaha by Design’s Laurels Awards have recognized the people and projects shaping our metro in inspiring ways, including the Young Urbanist award, the Neighborhood Revitalization award and more. In 2019, Emspace created a logo mark and brand for the event, bringing it to life through signage, digital invitations and physical programs. We continue to partner with Omaha by Design each year to update these materials.