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Jackrabbit LABS: An Exercise in Rugged Maniacs

Cara Ogar August 29, 2012 Jackrabbit LABS 1 Comment

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Background Info

Norwest Equity Partners is a Jackrabbit client (and a top investment firm out in the Midwest). We’ve only been working with them for about one year, but we’ve formed a great relationship and enjoy all of the projects we have worked on. The Norwest brand is pretty solid, and most of the work we’ve done has been elaborating on the foundation their marketing team has built. Which is good news for Jackrabbit, because working with intelligent marketing folks and a brand that has some real equity behind it (no pun intended) makes our job easier.

Recently though, Heather over at NEP asked if we’d be interested in helping her out with something totally different. Eleven brave members of the NEP Team have entered the Rugged Maniac (a 5K obstacle course race on rugged terrain). Would Jackrabbit be interested in designing a t-shirt logo for the race? Indeed we would!

The Exercise

When the project came in, as the Project Manager for Norwest, I was unsure who to give it to. I felt like any/all of our designers could have a lot of fun with this – so which one or two do I utilize?

Well, fortunately I didn’t have to choose. We had a perfectly timed Jackrabbit LABS Day that upcoming Friday and I thought this could make for a really cool exercise.

9:30am: The Challenge

I issued the challenge to everyone who attended Labs on this particular day and distributed all of the info we had regarding the logo. It basically consisted of the team name (Team NEP), the race name (Rugged Maniac) and a cool graphic that Heather had found of a logo dripping in mud, with a runner leaping over it (a reference to a potential style she liked). Everyone would have one hour to sketch out his or her initial direction or a graphical treatment for the logo/t-shirts. In just over an hour, we’d reconvene and everyone would present their ideas, the group would give feedback and we’d settle on one direction they should move in for their final version. They’d have the rest of the day to finalize their logo, and on Monday morning the team would vote on their favorite(s).

10:00am: Shotgun Start

We broke just before 10:00am and everyone got to work. Videos of previous Rugged Maniac races were playing, individual designers searched for inspiration and began sketching out their thoughts, taking them as far as they could until the team regrouped.

11:15am: Team Review

Presentations were done based on alphabetical order of first names, and each one was awesome – from Aaron to Theresa and everyone in between.

As each designer presented their designs, the rest of the team contributed their feedback and participated in a general discussion about the direction to take the concept in. It was really interesting to do this on such a large scale, with a range of participants from Art Director to Intern. The conversations around each design were inspiring and exciting, as we all collaborated on how to make the best shirts ever (um, some of the ideas we had needed to be scaled back a bit – I don’t think presenting a shirt that costs hundreds of dollars and involves customized trampling to get the right effect was quite what the client had in mind). Aaron, Chris A, Chris K, Jason, Jessica, Johnny, Lynn, and Theresa now had what they needed to make a final version.

Monday, 9:00am: The Reveal

Each designer printed out their logo/graphics and we spread them out on our kitchen counter. Throughout the day everyone checked off their top two designs.

Check out all of the concepts here, with notes from the designer.

Aaron P.

While designing this mark, I wanted to bring in the organic quality of the run via non-uniform, hand-rendered typography. The mark unites the letterforms and the muddy print of a running shoe by placing the letters within the negative space to create a balance between figure/ground.

Chris A.

I wanted to showcase the fact that this “mud run” was more than a foot race in the mud. It’s an intense obstacle course with a wide variety of components to it. I started by sketching out all these different elements (mud slide, rope climb, platform leaps, etc) and started to see them take shape as the NEP logo itself. While the client asked for a muddy, expressive logo, I wanted to offer a solution that was uniquely different than what they had envisioned. The type itself is much cleaner, contrasting nicely against the mud that is splattered about this typographic obstacle course.

Chris K.

The design is supposed to resemble muddy shoes running over a clean surface, with the “TEAM NEP” wiped cleaner than the rest. I had thought to have the shirt white so that the mud tracked during the run would be able to match the muddy graphic on the shirt, and show how dirty the runner actually got.


My design features a muddy footprint with “Team NEP” inscribed to emphasize the dirtiness of the race. I also made “Maniac” lowercase to switch up the font and give a little playfulness to the text.

Jessica, Logo 1

My approach was to create a self-contained icon/logo that could be produced in 1, 2 or 3 colors. Having the inside clean and easy to read and reproduce, while using the outside and edge of the circle to create the texture and feel of the mud run. I incorporated the team aspect into the icon by having the team members jumping, climbing, running inside and also outside of the circle. I close a bright contrasting color to the brown along with a bright shirt color. I feel that this represents the energy, fun and maniac-ness of an event like this.

Jessica, Logo 2

The inspiration for this logo/icon can from the idea of using a graphic in the negative shape of a letterform. I thought that the letter “A” would work with a mud runner in the negative space. It’s a nice subtle way of incorporating a graphic into the type. After doing this I felt it need a little more energy and dynamic-ness. I shifted the baseline on the NEP type down a bit and used it as a platform the team runners are jumping on from an obstacle in the course. I felt that the color palette needed a bright contrast to the brown. I picked a vibrant energetic orange color to represents the energy of the event.


For my design, I wanted to incorporate a sense of dimensionality and the roughness of the race. I set the distressed text in two-point perspective and added figures in motion that interacted with the type a bit. Color-wise, I used brown and green to echo the outdoors aspect of the race.


The goal of my design was to create a fun and bold t-shirt graphic that incorporates the 2 key elements that NEP mentioned in their project request: mud and running. I created the dynamic text using distressed typography. The series of 3 runners interact with this text as if letters are actual obstacles in the race itself. I used vibrant colors from NEP’s color palette in blues and greens. In a crazy mud race like this, a vibrant shirt color will also help to make the NEP runners stand-out as a unified Team amongst the chaos.


The direction I wanted to go with in my design was to capture the movement as well as the overall intensity of the race. I depicted a distorted figure running through the mud with the team name following. I think the figure along with the chaos of the splatter shows the true grit and stamina of a Rugged Maniac.

The Selection

When presented to Team NEP, they were excited with all of the cool options, and put it to a vote. And the winner was Lynn’s design…

The Finished Product

We wish all of those Maniacs from TEAM NEP the very best of luck in the race (although, with a shirt that looks this good, I’d say they’ve already won)!

*After the Race Update –

Congrats to Team NEP for their successful completion of the race!

To learn more about Jackrabbit LABS check out this blog post.

1 Comment

  • Clipping Path Service November 8, 2012

    Amazing! I AM LOVING IT MAN.

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