NRF Foundation Honors ballroom

The NRF Foundation Honors is a yearly black-tie event celebrating retail leaders – think “the Oscars” for the retail industry. For the past several years, I have helped lead the branding effort for the event alongside the team at openbox9. The event is a huge production and includes dozens of separate deliverables, from the stage backdrops to a digital program, and everything in between.

Developing a theme

Our first task was to develop a theme concept that would serve as inspiration for the event style. We carried through certain elements from the previous year – key colors, a pattern, and logo lockups – to maintain the event brand, but also wanted to bring a fresh twist to the high-profile event. Below are a few (of many) design explorations in the process of finding the right fit.

Honors 2022 Theme Concepts
Early theme concepts

The final theme centered around a stunning patterned ombre with bold lettering highlighting the event host.

NRF Foundation Honors

Setting parameters

With the theme settled, I created a styleguide which would govern the myriad other elements that the team would produce.




Lead Designer
Art Director

NRF Foundation Honors styleguide

Expanding production

Over the next few months, we expanded the theme design across print and digital deliverables, working with the NRF Foundation on ads and promos announcing key speakers and awardees, building emails and overhauling the Honors section of their webpage to match the theme, creating slideshows and backdrops for the event, and getting all the collateral ready for the big night.

NRF Foundation Honors web banner
NRF Foundation Honors banner
NRF Foundation Honors email header

The eVent

The hard work paid off and the event was a success – raising needed funds for the Foundation, celebrating industry leaders, and expanding the Honors brand as the a premier event in the retail space.

NRF Foundation Honors stage
NRF Foundation Honors Lightbox
NRF Foundation Honors stage

Event photos by Calen Rose Photography