Art direction, branding, print design, and web graphics

2020 CCC Purchasing Conference

Art director, designer
California Community Colleges
Pivoting a conference brand from in-person to fully online


CollegeBuys helps facilitate institutional purchasing agreements between major companies and California’s community colleges, allowing the colleges and their students to buy everything from computers and software to pens and notebooks at steep discounts. They host an annual conference that brings together college purchasing officers from across the state and provides them with opportunities for networking and professional development.


The 2020 edition of the conference was originally scheduled for March 2020 in San Diego, California, and the CollegeBuys team had decided on a theme centered on organization and structure, choosing the title “Plan. Procure. Perform: Designing a Blueprint for Innovation.” 

When the CollegeBuys team handed the theme and title over for design, we immediately decided to lean hard into the “blueprint” aspect. To keep it from looking like an architecture event, we chose to abstract the idea of a blueprint, stripping out any literal depictions of buildings and instead focusing on the details and markings that adorn blueprint plans, maintaining the idea of structure and precision while making it more appropriate for our needs. 

Blue print-style markings used throughout the brand

Once we created a standardized set of these markings and details, we could start figuring out how to fit them together into layouts that emphasized our theme of organization and planning without being too visually noisy or overwhelming the actual content.

Main brand style frame, used as reference for how the elements should work together

Business as usual

Over the years, the scope of this event’s graphic deliverables has grown to encompass a full suite of materials, including branded hotel keys, social hour tickets, signage, lanyards, and more. 

Planned collateral examples from before the pandemic

Every deliverable was a puzzle, and we had to figure out what arrangement and level of detail felt right for each depending on its physical size and prominence.

With the conference scheduled for March 2020, most of these deliverables were nearly complete — and in some cases already produced and delivered — when things started falling apart.


Just weeks before it was to take place, the 2020 conference had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After regrouping from the remote working transition, the CollegeBuys team decided to host the conference virtually in the Fall. 

Sample social media graphic announcing the new dates and change of venue

This change created the need for a host of new and unfamiliar deliverables. While the previous years’ sets of deliverables were expansive, they were roughly standardized; we knew the specs for hotel keycards and lanyards wouldn’t change from one conference to the next. To replicate to immersive branding of past years, we tried to find opportunities to extend this year’s conference brand into its new virtual spaces, even though many online platforms did not allow for the level of fine control that we would have preferred.

In addition to branded elements for the conference Cvent site, we created a suite of templates for speakers and vendors to use, maximizing the brand’s presence at as many touchpoints as possible. 

To coordinate with the branded templates, we created also custom video conferencing graphics to frame speakers during keynotes and informational sessions.

And to provide a consistent presence between sessions, we created an animated sponsor loop (sample below; animation by John Pastor)

In the end, our efforts to shift a long-standing conference into a fully-online space were successful. Attendees were impressed with the attention to detail and level of care put into the conference materials — even if they couldn’t bring home any souvenirs this time.