Writing Instruction in the Twitter Age
The Institute for Excellence in Writing’s (IEW) mission is to “address issues relating to teaching, writing, thinking, spelling, and music with clarity, insight, practical experience, and humor.” The organization offers an extensive line of products to the homeschool market via a direct-mail print and web magalog, as well as their online store.
In the Fall of 2011, Central Creative again provided graphic design and production services to IEW, completing their 2012 “Arts of Language” school-division magalog in early November.
Although the base requirements of the project were consistent with previous efforts and included overall design and production of the 32 page magalog, this iteration included a decided shift in strategy that resulted in a comprehensive redesign of the magalog.
IEW’s product line is well-known by homeschool educators, but less-so in the traditional school market. The job given to CCG was to design a magalog that would introduce IEW and its products to professional educators while effectively communicating product-benefits to them. The underlying challenge associated with the job would be to earn the attention of teachers and administrators, keeping them from disregarding the magalog.
In response to this challenge, Henry Miersma and Samantha Allen of CCG worked with Julie Walker, Director of Marketing at IEW, to develop the concept of a “themed”, illustrated magalog. The concept would combine custom illustrations with age-appropriate, editorial-style articles that together would help communicate product benefits. These spreads were supported by layouts containing product photographs which were then overlaid by illustrations of traditional school supplies.
For this edition of the magalog, the theme of Teaching Writing in the Twitter Age was chosen. After brainstorming several ideas for themed-content, CCG turned to Joel and Ashley Selby of This Paper Ship to illustrate the ideas.
The concept is initially introduced on the cover of the magalog. There, a full-page illustration of a classroom depicts a dedicated teacher attempting to teach writing, only to have students distracted by friendly birds that just happen to be “tweeting” – a not-so-vague reference to the distractions of social media. Additional aspects of the theme, and its visual interpretations, are subsequently incorporated throughout the project.
In total, CCG & This Paper Ship art directed two full-page illustrations and several of smaller sizes. The illustrations use a limited color palette ranging from pumpkin-orange to gray-blue, with colors correlating to particular age-level groups within IEW’s product line. This Paper Ship’s whimsical and friendly illustrations lead the reader through the purchasing process from Kindergarten to graduation, explaining product benefits relating to various age groups along the way.
Included in our art direction, CCG designed a flow chart in the beginning of the magalog to help the school administrator find the optimal product collections to start with. Information was kept at a minimum, focusing on whether the reader was looking to supply a single teacher, multiple, or a whole school, streamlining this process would help each reader become an actual IEW client.
Overall, the final results for IEW are a strategically-designed magalog which communicates product benefits to educators in a manner that is fun and fresh.