Branding and identity is such an important aspect of running an organization or business. It’s what allows people to recognize you. That’s why NAIT’s Graphic Communications students engage with the community and help out those organizations that just might not be able to afford it. Every year, the program works with five different non profit or community organizations, delivering custom branding and identity created by its very own up and coming design gurus and experts.
This year, students had the opportunity to work with the Alberta Aviation Museum, Flynn (NAIT’s assisted therapy dog), First Responders Half Marathon and the All Saints Anglican Cathedral.
With the Alberta Aviation Museum, students were invited to a hangar where they were presented with what the museum wanted and was looking for out of this experience. Student were able to engage with them and ask questions directly. All organizations get to present to the students and, from there, they just run with their ideas.
Each organization has one thing in common: they need a brand. While each organization’s needs vary, students come up with ideas and designs for logos, business cards, letter head, brochures, posters, flags, T-shirts and much more! All of this is created by students, sometimes in groups and sometimes individually.
Associate Chair Norm Peterson says the Graphic Communications program has been doing this for over 15 years and that students really enjoy it because it’s hand on.
Often times in schools and in class rooms, students complete projects and follow instructor specifications but their work doesn’t really go anywhere (other than their own flash drive). With these community projects, students’ work is given a purpose. They are enabled to engage directly with real organizations and people in order to deliver amazing results to these non-profit and community organizations.
Another bonus is that some companies will actually sponsor or donate honoraria to these projects. This means that, in some cases, the winning design gets prize money or that money may go to output expenses such as printing a flag for the Alberta Aviation Museum. These community projects are essential, in the same sense that NAIT is essential to Alberta. It is so important that this program gives students a way to engage and give back to their community.
Or, as Peterson put it, “We help out where we can.”
These organizations benefit because they are gifted with a new brand and the students benefit, too, with this opportunity and real world experience. Community projects are done towards the end of the students eight-month program, which sets them up with a new unique portfolio piece and the confidence to hit the ground running.