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More Than an Exhibit: “The Wall” Connects ISU Alumni With State Fair Fun

Scott Helms

By Scott Helms

Many people attend the Iowa State Fair to check out the musicians on the grandstand, throw a rubber chicken or eat their fill of fried Twinkies on a stick. But thousands of attendees have been flocking to the Iowa State University booth in the Varied Industries building to get a glimpse at “the wall.”

If you’re one of the more than 97,000 ISU graduates still living in Iowa, your name is adorned on a 40-foot-long wall, and fairgoers have come out in droves to find their name.

Iowa State University "The Wall" Design at the Iowa State Fair

PUSH Branding + Design, Flying Hippo’s sister company, handled the planning, design and implementation of the wall, and it was no easy task.

If you’ve ever attended a trade show or conference, you’ve experienced rows and rows of similar-looking companies all vying for your attention. The most difficult part of design for
conferences – and state fairs, for that matter – is capturing the audience’s attention.

“To best engage with audiences, brands need to think beyond environmental design or setting up a booth,” said Eric Groves, principal at PUSH. “People flock to brands that think outside of the ordinary, and that’s what we strive to do. Great brands like Iowa State are built on emotion, and we’re helping ISU alumni feel connected, empowered and proud of their education.”

Each of the names is listed in 12-point Univers Condensed Bold font, and all of the names needed to be squeezed in a 5-foot-high area of the 10-foot-high wall, to prevent people from bending down too low or requiring a ladder to read.

It was also a technical hurdle for PUSH — the wall needed to be designed in large chunks, since the nearly 100,000 names nearly crippled the design software used to plan the wall.

The wall’s popularity has not gone unnoticed, and local news outlets put the spotlight on Iowa State and Push’s work.

“Finding your name on this wall is a journey, but so is a degree. We’ve also had people walk up to this wall and say they’ve made it. Even though they may have made it in the 1930’s, it brings back that excitement of what it was like to receive a degree from Iowa State,” said Iowa State University Alumni Association President, Jeff Johnson in an interview with WHO-TV.



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