On December 5th at 9:30 am, Highwire Branding Studio students will present their final solutions to the Nestlé Purina PetCare team, as well as members of the Kroger family and dunnhumby, in the Heritage Room of the Shriver Student Center. These presentations will put forth work done by three interdisciplinary teams completed over the course of the fall 2011 semester as a joint collaboration between Marketing and Graphic Design programs within the Miami University family.
Highwire Brand Studio, formerly Laws, Hall & Associates, is a collaborative capstone studio between Marketing and Graphic Design, where students divide into three teams and compete for the “best”, or at least “most appreciated” solution to the client charge. Clients are real-world corporations, putting forth real-world design problems with expectations of potentially real-world implementation. In the past, clients have included P&G, Pringles, Nestlé Toll House, Tesco, Neilsen, Goodwrench, Hasbro, and others.
This semester, members of dunnhumby and the Nestlé Purina companies met with students in early September, tasking them with the charge of improving the pet aisle experience. After extensive research, discussion, and a number of informal critiques with both faculty members and representatives from dunnhumby and Nestlé Purina, each of the three student teams have developed their own take on the project, which they will share with the clients and university at large in the final presentations on December 5th.
While the students are still in the competitive mode, sharing their ideas in an open forum such as this would be unfair. It is fair to say, however, that each group has a unique look at what the charge is, and each group has attacked the final design solutions using imaginative ideas.
Previous semesters have had students looking at ways of leveraging social media applications to increase sales of a specific product, or considering alternate advertising campaigns that should revitalize seasonal items when “out of season”. At times the client charges are more playful, encouraging the creation of a new product. And sometimes they are more serious, such as improving a shopping experience. Each semester within the Highwire Brand Studio is guaranteed to be different, regardless.
This semester marks my third semester working within the Highwire family, and the 41st year of the collaboration between Marketing and Graphic Design. Over that time, many different students have come in, all with a different way of seeing the world. Each offers something unique to the whole process, which is what keeps clients returning semester after semester. Students within the studio are not mired in the daily corporate life yet. They see with fresh eyes. They see things that are overlooked by those within the brand structure. And they offer unusual ideas on how to improve sales, equity, and visibility. Working within the team has been a pleasure, and I am looking forward to continuing work next semester and over the summer.
The Highwire Brand Studio is held every fall and spring, as well as over the summer during an international study abroad course. It is open to all students within the Miami University campus.