The Dirt on Design: Tips and Tricks for Creating Promotional Items at your Library

Presenters: Greg Houston and Merika Ramundo

Submitted by: Allison Smith, 21 July 2014

In their dynamic presentation entitled “The Dirt on Design,” McGill Library’s Greg Houston (Digitization and New Media Administrator) and Merika Ramundo (Communications Officer) delivered exactly what they promised: tips and tricks for creating promotional items for libraries. Merika and Greg convened the discussion in a playful, collaborative way that both engaged the audience and exemplified the back and forth brainstorming techniques they recommend. The session was illustrated with great drawings and sketches, giving us a behind the scenes look at the evolution of familiar McGill campaigns and offering some technically advanced design concepts in an approachable way.  

Some of the topics covered by the speakers are listed below.  The presentation slides are available through the conference website but here are a few tidbits of advice from Merika and Greg:

Preparation and planning: Get staff from different areas and users on board; determine the message, audience and goals of a campaign in advance; pad any timeline with room for hiccups (and approvals from different departments).

Brainstorming: Gather inspiration from anywhere (YouTube, users, photographs, things you don’t like); use materials like whiteboards, smartboards and post-its for brainstorming sessions; borrow and share ideas; remember that a picture or sketch can be worth a thousand words; play idea ping-pong--sometimes an idea is a grand-slam right away, sometimes it needs to be batted back and forth among colleagues to grow into something great.

Images: Have a photographer take pictures of your staff doing things that they are happy doing to create a bank of unique, personalised pictures you can use in different campaigns (against a blank background is easier for clipping and reuse); find and highlight little details from your collection; save and recycle elements of design to quickly create new materials.

Colour: Create a colour scheme to share among branches, campaigns or materials (swatches can be generated from chosen pictures); use rich blacks for a deeper black to print on coloured paper.

Eat chocolate: In brainstorming sessions, chocolate represents a safe space of non-judgement, as well as releases endorphins and makes people happy!



L to R: Gregory Houston, Robin Canuel, Merika Ramundo