Census Bureau Publishing Support Case Study


This was an odd one, at least in how it came about. After the U.S. Census Bureau saw our Website, Vox Optima Executive Director Merritt Hamilton Allen received a cold call about whether or not we had graphic design experience. Another call followed, and it became clear they wanted a soup-to-nuts publisher – and also help procuring materials they could use in their outreach efforts for the 2010 census.

The product?

A coloring book for elementary school children in areas where English was likely a second language at home. The idea was that they could take them home and have an impact on their parents’ cooperation in the Census. We needed to translate design work that had been done in PowerPoint – not in a traditional graphic design application – into something great that a subcontracted printer could deliver.


After consulting with the client, we agreed to maintain the basic format but applied many typographic changes to each version – five in all: Classic Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Korean – that the client blessed.

In addition to the books itself, we researched costs and procured branded crayon sets and drafted new art for an accompanying CD and teacher’s manual. We delivered 15,000 coloring books in five languages, 15,000 crayon sets branded with the U.S. Census Bureau logo, and 1,000 CD-ROM guides for educators.


Despite changes to the scope of the contract, there was little additional cost to the government. In short order, the Census Bureau got a superior products than they would have likely gotten otherwise.

From the time they called to the final delivery of products, the turnaround was approximately 7 weeks. Our effort – which helped Americans stand up and be counted – received top scores and personal thanks from the director of the Denver office.