I've been running Portfolio Review Night every year since 2015. Bringing experienced professionals and students or recent grads together is a powerful thing, and I've seen a lot of great relationships start at these events, to say nothing of all the wisdom shared.
2020 brought a brand new challenge in that this couldn't happen in person any more. My heart went out to students graduating in the spring, knowing that starting a new career is daunting and difficult in the best of times, and it must've felt completely overwhelming in the midst of a pandemic. I decided that PRN had to continue to help these people - but of course, it'd have to be entirely online.
I created a cheeky campaign to promote the event that made light of us all being relegated to Zoom. Being upbeat and positive was important, so students still felt like they could take the first steps of their career and that the industry was here to help them, and I wanted my reviewers to know how important their help was too.
I'd never run PRN online before - the interactions you can really only have in person were greatly missed, and after this experience I still think meeting in person is best. But, it was great to be able to still help students while everything was closed and the normal ways of networking weren't available.
I definitely missed the energy of having so many excited students and reviewers around, and connecting online isn't the same as connecting in person. But there were some advantages to running things online - less of a time commitment without having to commute to a venue, fewer costs to put the event up - so there may be a combination of in-person and online events in the future.
Because this year was going to be so different from usual, I decided to create a new mark. The original logo references print portfolios with a book motif (read about it here) and because this year's event was to be online I wanted to move away from the print reference.
Very loosely, this mark represents the intersection of two screens, with a person looking at the screen on either end. The yellow and purple screen intersect to create an orange-brown, representing where people come together online.
This established my colour palette for all the promotional graphics and ads for this year, and I used the concept of the intersection of shapes and colours in a few other icons too.
Since this year's event was entirely online, I referenced computer windows in the promotional graphics. While a lot of organizations were also making similar computer or internet visual references at the time, I felt it was appropriate since it helped make plain the changes this year, and avoid any confusion on if this were still in person in some capacity.
I used the front window for copy and event details, and in the other two created visually appealing graphics with a cheeky reference to the kinds of work students were going to share. The title bars of the windows have silly "project names" in them, very small, as a sort of easter egg.
I also established a typographic rule, using the pixelated font Mondwest for the part of the copy that referenced doing something online, and the sans-serif Brendan for everything else.
I animated two social media ads to A/B test copy. To include motion, I went with this "window stacking" animation, and an "alert" with the event's 2020 mark at the top.
The ads were graphic and clean to attract the attention of the designers, art directors, and illustrators the reviews were intended for.
For further promotion, I also created graphics that reviewers and panelists could post on their own social media accounts. Reviewers are usually really enthusiastic about helping students and look forward to the event - I wanted to give them a simple and easy way to share the news.