Jasmine Alston, director of new media and branding at Bethune–Cookman Athletics, has a full plate. She is in charge of graphic design for all 17 sports, runs the social media accounts, and serves as one of the department’s communications contacts.
To handle the heavy workload, Alston brings an energy and drive that is unmatched, according to Bryan Harvey, BCU’s assistant AD of communications.
“It is a lot of work, and we ask a lot of her,” Harvey said. “The way she’s handled it is phenomenal. She enjoys the work, but she’s fidgety, as most designers are. They want to be doing something. For her, she gets bored if she’s not doing something.”
Alston has always had a creative eye, having attended North Carolina Central University, where she received her B.A. with a concentration in visual communications.
“I thought I was going to be a professional basketball player, but I got hurt, and I had to find other options,” she said. “I always had a passion for color and design and stuff, and I liked combining that with sports.”
After stops at Nike and the University of Oregon, Alston has found a home at BCU, where she’s helped create a unique, identifiable brand for the athletic department.
“I would say I’m always simple and bold at the same time,” she said. “I like the message to be reached first and then you look at everything else, so the message is clear.”
Since Alston took over, the department’s social accounts have become a designer’s dream — particularly the football program’s Instagram. They are clean and coordinated, with a balance between videos, still graphics and action photos.
— 🏈 Bethune-Cookman FB (@BCUGridiron) September 24, 2018
Alston spoke to the importance of consistency when it comes to an athletic department like BCU’s.
“It’s huge,” she said. “Especially coming from a smaller school, consistency plays a huge part. You want to be known by your logo, but if someone can identify your brand by what you’re putting on social, you’ve won twice. [Consistency] should be the number one focus for smaller schools.”
“It’s more important here than at a bigger school,” agreed Harvey. “At bigger schools, you may have people that follow a particular sport. With us, we have people that follow the athletic department. Yes, they may love football or basketball more, but they’re following the main brand.”
Working with a smaller program, Harvey realizes the limitations when it comes to budget, but he believes that Alston has the opportunity and talent to create like the best programs in the nation.
“A lot of people look at HBCUs and think, ‘They can’t compete budget-wise,’” Harvey said. “But it doesn’t take money to be creative. It takes money to get printed, maybe, or use fancy paper or make thousands of copies, but with new technology, where you can create in-house, it levels the playing field. If we all are doing graphics on social, the playing field is level.”
Even with the increased opportunities thanks to digital advancements, Alston hopes that athletic organizations will continue to see the benefit of assembling strong creative teams.
“It’s just going to get bigger, and more teams will build bigger creative groups,” she said. “We’re hoping universities see the importance, especially when it comes to recruiting.”
Being BCU’s sole designer for now, though, Alston has control over coming up with her own ideas and bringing them to fruition, which Harvey mentioned is important for the creative process.
“Having the freedom that we give her, we’re not hanging over her shoulder,” he said. “You just have to let them design and wait until the end product — don’t hover over them. She brings something we’ve never had.”
As a black woman working in sports, Alston understands that she offers a fresh perspective to the field.
“Women have a lot to offer — black women, any color; women have a lot to offer in athletics,” she said. “We bring a different vibe to it. It’s not that we soften the field, but we add our own special sauce to it, I guess. A lot of my favorite designers are women.”
From her makeover of BCU’s social media accounts to her striking graphic designs, Alston’s dramatic impact on BCU Athletics seems to be further proof of Harvey’s theory.
“We’re the best on our level because, in my opinion, we have the best graphic designer in the nation,” he said.