Big Omaha 2015

Conference Branding That Works 365 Days a Year

Since 2009, the Big Omaha annual conference has brought together the nation’s most passionate members of the entrepreneurial community, including founders, investors, and emerging leaders to build community, start conversation, and provide inspiration. When the conference was acquired by the AIM Institute in 2014, Grain & Mortar was tasked with the creation of a permanent brand.


The conference organizers had a specific business need. In the past, each year was marked by a new website, a new design theme, and new event collateral. While this made for a dynamic, anticipatory experience for attendees, it demanded valuable time to oversee the annual design process with their agency. Plus, without a permanent brand, Big Omaha organizers faced challenges conducting the year-long business of planning the event.

Create a Brand That Is True and Consistent

Consider the Past

Our first step was to uncover what remained true from the event’s creative design history. We carefully considered the conference’s visual past, its reputation, and the organizers’ goals for the future so we could develop a logo that truly reflected Big Omaha’s values and spirit.

The Cow Stays in the Picture

For seven years, a cow was incorporated into the Big Omaha annual design. Everyone agreed the brand wouldn’t be the same without it, so we integrated it as a secondary logo element and created a permanent cow silhouette. While its shape is permanent, the colors and patterns within the cow change annually.

Elements of Fun

We chose colors and graphics to reflect the exuberance that is integral to the Big Omaha experience. The cow was filled with geometric shapes based on connecting points that suggested a hint of “tech.” The pattern of sharp orange and purple triangular shapes is antithetical to the stereotype of a cow and created an unexpected but playful tension. The typeface — Industry — is utilitarian to reflect the unpretentious vibe of Big Omaha. The year rests on a background shape that hints at the outline of the state of Nebraska — a nod to the conference’s location.

Flexible Permanence

We created a two-tier strategy for the brand. This built-in flexibility allows the Big Omaha organizers to convey a unique experience from year to year without compromising the brand or the larger identity. To help them apply the brand moving forward, we provided two style guides — one for the permanent brand and one for the annual theme.

Wrap the Audience in a Seamless Experience

A Digital Experience That Mirrors the In-Person Experience

Making Friends, One Phone at a Time

We introduced Passbook and iBeacon technology to the conference plans because we knew it would be a perfect opportunity to add a layer of delight and improve the overall conference experience for Big Omaha’s tech-savvy audience. We used the technology to notify guests with helpful messages throughout the duration of the conference.

of Big Omaha 2015 attendees adopted the Passbook & iBeacon technology

Sharing Big Omaha’s Vision

The bulk of Big Omaha attendees are founders and entrepreneurs, so we produced a video that told their story — complete with sea monsters and sharks. This narrative format provided the opportunity to communicate Big Omaha’s value and role as a “port of call” for their attendees, whatever stage their business is in.

"Grain & Mortar provides ridiculously amazing experiences.

The entire experience is enjoyable… They actually listen to you and incorporate your knowledge. They seek to work with you to achieve the best outcomes."

Caleb Ulffers

Director, Big Omaha