Marketing firm chosen to give PSU a new look

Portland-based marketing agency Sockeye Creative was selected last Thursday to redesign Portland State’s visual identity, including the university logo and web site.

The marketing committee picked Sockeye Creative from a group of six agencies that submitted materials and made presentations to the group in January.

Julie Smith, marketing committee chair, said that Sockeye Creative was her first choice. “Each of the other firms had great strengths in one area with less strengths in others. I believe Sockeye had the best combined qualifications in both strategic planning and graphic design.”

Previous clients of Sockeye Creative include local companies such as Adidas, the Portland Opera, Concordia University and the Portland Beavers.

Portland State’s new identity will not come cheaply. All of the firms competing for the PSU visual identity redesign were required to submit a budget along with their proposals. Sockeye Creative originally attached a detailed breakdown of its estimated expenses that totaled $281,125. A revised, although less detailed, budget was later sent with a total estimated expense of $120,000.

When redesigning the logo for the Portland Beavers, the company approached the project from several angles. Taking into consideration the new retro feel of the recently refurbished PGE Park and hoping to reignite Portlanders’ love of baseball, the marketing team searched for an image that would evoke an association with baseball’s rich history. The feedback from fans was overwhelmingly in support of the new look and, according to Sockeye Creative’s proposal, the Portland Beavers saw a boost in attendance and merchandise sales after the new logo made its debut.

Andy Fraser, president of Sockeye Creative, told the committee in his proposal that the company wanted to partner with Portland State “because we have deep Oregon and Portland roots, so understanding is already in place.”

Fraser attended PSU in 1987 and is a graduate of the University of Oregon. Sockeye Creative’s creative director, Peter Metz, grew up in the Portland area as well. After working the San Francisco Bay area for several years, Mertz returned to Portland to co-found Sockeye Creative.

Another aspect of Sockeye’s proposal that drew praise from committee members was its previous collaborations with Portland State. Among the sample materials provided by the company was a packet of student recruitment collateral. This collateral included brochures about university housing options and transfer handbooks that are currently being used by the admissions office.

Marketing committee member Justin Bernstine praised these examples as particularly strong. “The PSU admissions view book was spectacularly different,” he said.

Committee member Kimberly Willson-St. Clair also praised Sockeye Creative’s previous work for PSU. “I love Sockeye’s work,” she wrote, “by far my favorite artistic portfolio from the work for PSU to Beavers and Portland Opera.”

Committee members were asked to evaluate each firm using a pre-established system of points and categories. Companies were graded based on their profile and history, their personnel, past identity redesign experience, past experience working with high education clients, background in visual design and creativity and pricing. Out of 100 possible points, committee members awarded Sockeye Creative a total of 84.56. This put them nearly 10 points ahead of their nearest competitor.

After a required four-day waiting period during which time the other companies may protest the selection, the business office intends to award Sockeye Creative the PSU contract on Feb. 15. “We don’t expect any protests, but you never know,” said Margaret Marriott, contracts officer with Portland State’s Office of Business Affairs.