For many community organizations, being able to share the work that is being done is almost as important as the work being done itself. NWSP prides itself in being able to keep community members up to date about things happening in the Near West Side and this week I had the pleasure of speaking with three experts in the fields of marketing and branding about how they utilize a variety of engagement methods to share NWSP’s message.

Derek Keyeski is the owner of Shuffle Creative, a Milwaukee-based video production company. He crafts video messages for non-profits, corporations, and small businesses, and has been working with NWSP for five years.

In the past, he has created NWSP image pieces, the five contestant videos for Rev Up Milwaukee, and a Near West Side promotional video with aerial videography and motion graphics highlighting the strengths of the neighborhood and why businesses should relocate there. He has also covered the awards banquet for Avenues West, the CEO Symposiums, and continues to cover smaller events as they pop up.

Click here to watch Derek’s Near West Side promotional video!

Marquayla Ellison is a freelance graphic designer and owner of Ellastic Designs, LLC. She creates custom digital and print designs for small businesses, local philanthropic professionals, non-profits, and organizations, and has been working with NWSP for three years.

In the past, she has worked on projects for NWSP surrounding the Spirit of Wakanda art festival, as well as an auto-theft prevention campaign partnered with MPD. She describes her style as “clean, clear, and consistent” and emphasizes the importance of making sure everyone is able to understand the messages she is trying to relay.

Pictured above: a Spirit of Wakanda banner designed by Ellastic Designs in 2018

Anna Story is an Associate at Mueller Communications, LLC, a Wisconsin-based public relations firm. A proud Marquette University graduate, she works to connect clients with their audiences and communities in meaningful ways. Mueller Communications has been working with NWSP for five years.

In 2015, Mueller Communications assisted NWSP with developing logos and other branding components to distinguish the neighborhood, including the name “Near West Side.” Mueller Communications also works closely with the PARC team, specifically to “promote assets” in the Near West Side through traditional and new media channels to tell the stories of the businesses, non-profits, neighbors and other institutions that define the Near West Side.

All three experts noted that COVID-19 has impacted their work in some shape or form.

Derek explained how he’s been working on a video for Near West Side Partners to show how the Near West Side community has been taking action to support each other and the neighborhood during COVID-19. This is in sharp contrast to the messaging seen early in the pandemic, where many organizations were saying, “we’re all in this together” without actually showcasing their efforts.

Anna explained how the pandemic has shifted the type of information Mueller Communications is trying to get across. She said they have “been sharing more information about health and safety, available relief resources, and virtual educational events and efforts to ensure the community has what it needs to stay healthy and supported.”

The type of graphic designs Marquayla has been creating have also shifted. During the earlier months of the pandemic, she worked with Advocate Aurora, one of the Near West Side’s five Anchor Institutions, to create sidewalk templates to display COVID-19 and health related messages with temporary spray paint.

Pictured above: NWSP Ambassadors and Ellastic Design’s spray-paint sidewalk stencil design reading “Protect Yourself From COVID-19.”

Derek and Marquayla also shared their personal goals for the future of their work with NWSP.

Derek explained he would like to focus on improving three things: the speed of his messaging, the durability of his messaging, and how many residents he can reach and engage in the neighborhood. He explained that it is important to have “boots on the ground” and hear from Near West Side residents so that he can highlight those voices in his messaging and even give those voices a chance to be a part of the messaging. Marquayla said she would love to see more pride in the Near West Side and see the neighborhood continue to be branded even more. She said the Near West Side “has so much character” and thinks a starting point for increasing community pride is by having great programming and resources to make residents feel loved and a part of things, but also great visuals and graphics to represent those feelings of love and inclusion.

To learn more about the type of work Derek, Marquayla, and Anna do, you can visit their websites here:

Derek Keyeski – Shuffle Creative

Marquayla Ellison – Ellastic Designs

Anna Story – Mueller Communications

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