NMU Students Help to Brand Luge World Cup

final selection
final selectionNMU student Hannah Splan (left) and UPLC Coach Tammy Wills with the three design proposals
NMU student Hannah Splan (left) and UPLC Coach Tammy Wills with the three design proposals

Northern Michigan University graphic communications students designed the logo and promotional materials that will be used for the International Luge Federation’s Luge World Cup on Natural Track at Lucy Hill in Negaunee. The Upper Peninsula Luge Club (UPLC), home of the only full-length natural luge track in the United States, will host the event in January 2017.

NMU Art and Design Professor Jane Milkie said she read an article about the World Cup and recognized it as an academic service learning opportunity for seniors in her advanced graphic communications course. They could gain experience working for a real-world client while performing a community service to benefit a local organization. She contacted UPLC Coach Tammy Wills about collaborating with her class on branding and promotions for the event and Wills agreed.

“I am very proud of the students in terms of their willingness to engage with a community project while also being cognizant of the big picture of how this could be very meaningful for a rural community and the sport,” Milkie said. “We expect the design will be edited a bit more before it’s widely used, but it is exciting for the students that their work could be seen by people in a number of countries. They were very professional and willing to put a lot of time and energy into this project.”

NMU students created individual logos, then narrowed them down to three. Students formed teams to finalize the designs and develop other components such as promotional posters, save-the-date cards, a schedule of events, an autograph book and other materials. UPLC members and the general public voted for their favorites at a reception at the Marquette Arts and Culture Center. The UPLC board decided to adopt the design that also won the people’s choice vote.

“When we were approached by Jane about this, we thought it was a great idea,” said Wills. “We are a small, nonprofit organization and will have a lot of expenses renovating our 25-year-old track and hosting the event. Making this a class service project was a win-win because it saved us money and gave students who are close to being out in the professional world an experience that was real and had meaning. It was nice to be able to choose from a few designs rather than be presented with one. We are very happy with the results.”

NMU student Hannah Splan was in the class and will be extending her service to the UPLC with a two-credit internship this fall. She will assist the World Cup marketing team in creating promotional materials such as “save the date” cards, billboards, t-shirts, buttons and banners leading up to the event.        

“The opportunity to work with someone from the community on a project that spans worldwide is hugely valuable for beginning graphic designers, as it provides real-world experience and also allows you to include something new and reputable on your resume,” Splan said. “We all learned a little bit about branding and assigning an identity to an event, which is slightly different than assigning an identity to a company like we had done in a previous project. We also divided up the workload across smaller teams, which forced us to work both independently and together toward a deadline.”

The Luge World Cup on Natural Track will be held Jan. 9-14, 2017. 

Student writer Cassidy Hinshaw assisted with this story.



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Kristi Evans
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