top of page
Battle of the Businesses Background_Background.png


While working as a Marketing & Advertising Creative Specialist for the City of East Lansing, I sought to bring some life back into Downtown East Lansing's social media accounts in March of 2022 by creating a bracket challenge — of course using the NCAA's March Madness bracket challenge as my inspiration. And because one of the primary goals of Downtown East Lansing's social medias is to increase economic revenue at local businesses, the primary goal of this bracket challenge was to highlight and support local businesses. Alas, Battle of the Businesses was born.

While I don't necessarily think my graphic design work for any part of Battle of the Businesses was particularly extraordinary, I am very proud of my ability to have been the sole manager of this project. I pitched the initial idea; created the designs; selected the businesses; created all related social media posts; collected, organized, and scored the bracket entries; and awarded both the bracket challenge winners and the winning business their respective prizes. I am also proud (and relieved!) that this campaign made an impact on Downtown East Lansing's social media and throughout the community. 

Explore the different aspects of this competition below, and check out its impact at the bottom of the page!

First Round

How to Play

Community members were invited, via Downtown East Lansing's social medias, to partake in this bracket challenge. The rules were, in short, as follows:

  1. Fill out Battle of the Businesses bracket.

  2. Submit completed Battle of the Businesses bracket predictions via email or via DM by specified date to be included in the competition.

  3. Vote for Downtown East Lansing businesses via story polls on the @downtowneastlansing Instagram.

  4. The winner of each poll will advance to the next round.

  5. The individual who most accurately predicts the outcome of the Battle of the Businesses will win a $300 DNA Gift Card, 2nd place a $200 DNA Card, and 3rd place a $100 DNA Card.

My Design

I used Albert EL Fresco branding to guide my design choices for this campaign, as the funding and organizations which support Albert EL Fresco and its mission are closely related to those that supported Battle of the Business. I used the Albert EL Fresco tie-dye background and Bilo font for this campaign — though I tweaked the tie-dye colors to be slightly more pastel, complimenting them to the bright turquoise in Downtown East Lansing's logo.

The colorful icons at the top of the bracket are also nods to Downtown East Lansing's logo, and are meant to represent the four different categories of businesses included in this bracket challenge: food + beverage, nightlife, retail, and service providers.


In 2.5 days, over 60 community members submitted their completed brackets as entries for this competition. Participants ranged in age, and included Michigan State University students, local parents, and young children.

I printed each of the 60+ brackets and scored them by hand after each round of voting.


As mentioned above, voting occurred on Downtown East Lansing's Instagram stories. And because stories are temporary, community members had only 24 hours to vote for their favorite businesses in each round of the competition. 

The winning businesses then advanced to the next round of voting to go head-to-head with another winning business... until only one business remained and was deemed Battle of the Businesses Champion.

I also posted an updated leaderboard to Downtown East Lansing's instagram stories upon the completion of each round of voting. This leaderboard would show how the top community members were standing based on their bracket predictions and the current bracket results.

As a side note, I started each round of voting on the beginning date of the corresponding round of games in the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. :)


In the end, a popular new Mexican restaurant, Barrio Tacos, took the title as Battle of the Businesses Champion. The completed bracket, as well as the Championship round story poll, are pictured.

As a prize for being voted Battle of the Businesses champion by the community, I treated Barrio to a small photoshoot and a dedicated post on Downtown East Lansing's social media pages, recognizing and congratulating them on their win! The owners and workers of the taco restaurant were humbled and grateful.

And of course, the top three winners of the bracket challenge happily received their hard earned winnings: a $300, $200, and $100 DNA Card, respectively.