Rebranding Design Collective
Design Collective (abbreviated DECO) is a design community at UT Austin. We do a lot of things:
- DECO Learn, a 12-week educational program for beginners
- DECO Build, a collaborative project-based environment for building design experience
- DECO Studio, a student-run design studio that takes on work from the local community
There’s something for everyone, whether you’re just starting out or already years in. DECO brings designers from a diverse range of backgrounds and skill levels together to create!
I started DECO last winter with the help of two friends. I’d wanted to join a design organization since I was a freshman, but after years of waiting it was clear: if I didn’t do it, no one would.
We were set for launch the following spring, which gave us some time to develop our branding. There was a lot of discussion about what our organization should be, and the kind of image we wanted to project.
A recurring theme was wanting to help people develop an appreciation for design — to “have an eye” for it. That imagery drove my branding for our inaugural semester, when we hadn’t figured out what DECO was yet.
After being active for a few months, we started to realize DECO’s place on campus: a community for students to learn, develop, and practice design, regardless of background or skill level. By the end of the year, we had a clear sense of direction and our branding no longer embodied who we were. That’s when I asked Esther to take a stab at expressing the new DECO.
My initial reaction was a mix of anxiety and excitement: I was delighted at the opportunity to brand a very promising organization, but at the same time, I didn’t want to mess up.
When I met with Bryant and our vice president Eduardo, they laid out a general direction for the visual identity. They wanted to represent harmony between the different parts of DECO, using a CMYK color scheme as homage to the printing colors. I began ideating and developed some rough concepts.
Of the many, these had the most potential; we decided to move forward with the middle one because it illustrated the “collective” aspect of DECO. Ed suggested combining the linear design with a circular form, which made the logo all the more interesting.
I met with DECO Studio for an interim critique. Although they saw improvement, the team thought there was a general lack of meaning to the form. Some said it read as a toxic sign; others saw a CD. This was a problem, because it meant the logo didn’t have a sense of identity.
Recognizing Design Collective as a multi-faceted organization, I tried to convey that through color and line weight — preserving the form of the old logo while updating its aesthetic.
The final logo is a testament to DECO’s growth, drawing from our short history to create a simple and versatile icon. Its resemblance to a yarn ball suggests the curiosity and playfulness we experience in exploring design.
There’s more to branding than just a logo, though! Ed and I extended the new visual language across the entire organization.
…and this is just the beginning 😄
- Ideate! The more options you have, the more developed your design.
- For branding projects, you need to develop an intimate understanding of the organization in order to convey the right image. It’s a two-part system: the brand represents the organization, and the organization’s actions further the brand.
- Make design decisions meaningfully, and don’t be afraid to draw from the past.
- Feedback is crucial. Having other people critique my design helped me discover insights I would’ve never found on my own.