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A Product Design Strategy Focused on Generating Support and Raising Awareness

Since 1992, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has compiled over 30 victories (10 ALMS, 20 IndyCar), 42 poles (13 ALMS, 29 IndyCar), three series championships (1 IndyCar, 2 ALMS), and an Indy 500 victory in 2004 (Buddy Rice). One of the most famous racing organizations in the industry, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is owned by three-time IndyCar champion Bobby Rahal, television icon David Letterman, and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan.


“Mercy Home is so grateful to BOOM Designs for their generous support of our young people,” said Mercy Home President Rev. L. Scott Donahue.  “And we were proud to ride along, in a sense, with Graham Rahal, whose family and the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team have been so good to our boys and girls over the years.”

The Background

Mercy Home for Boys & Girls is a not-for-profit organization that has been saving troubled children in Chicago since 1887. Gaining the necessary funds to provide a haven for more than 30,000 Chicago kids is an ongoing challenge. Bobby Rahal’s wife, Johanna, is on the Board of Regents for Mercy Home for Boys & Girls in Chicago and took action at Mercy Home’s 2016 Ringside black-tie fundraising event’s auction.

As part of an IndyCar Series and Indy 500 experience package, Bobby and Johanna Rahal donated the opportunity to design Graham Rahal’s racing helmet for the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America in June 2017, a project that raised over $50,000 for Mercy Home.

Wanting to support and be apart of a project carrying a profound impact on the local community, BOOM Designs founder, Ross Bartels, cast the winning bid.

The Project

The primary objectives of Graham Rahal’s purposeful racing helmet were to generate awareness of Mercy Home’s efforts in helping children escape abuse, neglect, and poverty and the value and impact Mercy Home has on the community. BOOM Designs needed to work in close collaboration with both Mercy Home and the Rahal racing team to achieve these goals.

The collaborative team decided to celebrate a painting by a Mercy Home youth by incorporating the artwork into the background of Graham’s racing number. The team also wanted to integrate the Ringside event colors into the design (red, black, and white) to generate more support for the event raising the money.

Most importantly, the helmet should be special–send a clear and compelling message to all who see it.


The Product Design Strategy


We began the project by researching both Mercy Home and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s visual brand languages (VBL). Knowing how Mercy Home’s logo is currently being used as well as knowing how it has been utilized in the past is vital in maintaining Mercy Home’s brand integrity. We wanted to enhance branding without disrupting either organization’s VBL.


An iterative design process is essential to any product design strategy at BOOM Designs and imperative in collaborative projects. We created several iterations of the helmet’s design to gain vital feedback and ensuring the project team’s input is valued. Through the iteration phase, we learned we could make the strongest statement for Mercy Home through the silhouettes in their logo.

Mercy Home appreciated our innovative design strategy and approved the design.

The Outcome

The result of the collaborative efforts in bringing awareness for Mercy Home is a helmet that is as flashy as it is a profound statement against the neglect and abuse of Chicago children.


The Mercy Home youth’s artwork is incorporated right into and around Graham’s racing number 15 on the rear of the helmet with Mercy Home’s objective prominently displayed above.

The children’s silhouettes from Mercy Home’s logo are placed on each side of the helmet almost tracing Graham like he is racing with them.

From the front, you see the Mercy Home logo with a statement of the purpose of the organization.

The helmet creates awareness for Mercy Home from every camera angle while maintaining Mercy Home’s visual brand language and generating support for the Ringside event enabling this project to raise over $50,000 for Mercy Home.

At BOOM Designs, we have a unique product design strategy that has resulted in hundreds of successful products. We can handle everything from the initial research to the launch of your new product.