Our latest project in Brand Design involved branding our program. It's been through several iterations over the years, and now that it's attached to the University of Colorado and feels a little lost in the CMCI department, it does feel like it's time for a rebrand. Our competition, the D School, the New School, MIT media lab, all have very strong branding. Studio, the new name of the program, is a cool, cutting-edge, nationally-renowned school that needs branding to match in order to build the notoriety these other programs have.

The studio style of learning is completely different from the style of classes the university currently offers. We focus on studio based learning, and redefining what the traditional classroom looks like. So an ask of the brief was to differentiate studio from the university so it can function as a standalone program.

 

Start here. Change everything.

 

To start, creating tone words was a combination of the feelings working in the studio everyday has brought up, as well as knowing the dreams and aspirations my teachers and David have for what the program can be. Here are some of the words that come to mind when I think of the studio:

I landed on innovative, disruptive and collaborative after really getting down to what I thought was at the core of the studio experience. Innovative because we are encouraged to constantly be iterating and improving on our projects and ideas, as well as exploring new areas like visual reality, augmented reality, and voice assistive design. Disruptive because we are breaking down what the traditional classroom means, but also we are pushing the bounds in our field of cutting-edge technology and innovation. Collaborative because studio style learning is based on working together, failing quickly and constantly challenging each other.

Using these words, I made some mood boards:

I liked the idea of design that was timeless, bold and geometric. Something that made it clear we are a program with something to say, but that despite the fact that technology is ever-changing, we are a steady leading authority.

And color palettes that reflected these feelings and images:

Here are some of the sketches I made when exploring a logo:

When I moved them into the computer, I realized that I needed to simplify my concept. Here's a peak at some of the first concepts:

And these are the two concepts I presented the first week:

This first concept was based around the idea of the shape of the studio. I knew going in that I wanted whichever logo I went with to be flexible and respond to the environment it was in - so I explored some responsive elements. Ultimately I think that the shape wasn't working with the logo and I went with my second option.

This second concept came from David's idea of focusing on the 'i,' and thinking about what that meant as someone currently in the studio master's program. Something I've taken away so far is that I'm always learning something new, and that we dabble in so many different areas. I wanted the logo to account for how much is truly encompassed in 'studio,' despite the seemingly common world. To show this, I explored how the logo could extend from within and introduce the different facets of the studio program.

This is the idea I continued to explore into the 2nd week of the project.

I looked at how different shapes could interact with it:

 

I also made some mockups to explore how these would look in practice:

While I liked the direction I went with these, I got feedback in favor of the brighter, more circular logo from classmates. So I spent the next week exploring that to come up with the final brand.

Here's a look at where I went for the final presentation:

Ultimately I went with more vibrant, "digital" colors. I wanted it to evoke the gritty, hands-on feelings I get from our studio, and also mimic the "glow" of the screen to take a brighter, bolder spin on some primary colors.

I tried to carry these bold colors throughout the materials, while still keeping in mind that we are a professional, masters program. This was one of the reasons I brought photography into my branding - because I think using genuine photography conveys the professionalism of a collegiate institution and helps create a personal connection. I wanted to make sure the photos felt truly integrated into the brand style I had created though, so I looked into using duotones to bring in the bright color palette, while also bringing in texture to mimic the "grit" of our studio walls.

I think this project overall really helped me reflect on the program as a whole and all it has contributed to my learning and career already. Thinking of it from the perspective as a designer and their design brief definitely made me take a step back and think about what the "essence" of studio was. Even seeing how all of my classmates viewed it was eye opening and contributed to how I saw it as a whole. It was really nice working on a project I am personally involved with and already had my own perceptions of it as a brand.