Crafting a brand for "the design club for everyone"
Creative Direction, Branding + Identity
Brand Development — 10 Weeks
Implementation — 8 Months
Yearly Group Membership ↑53%
Raised $2300 from 14 Sponsors
Anyone can be a designer.
Pixel Husky is a club founded in 2014 that served the needs of a small but growing community at the University of Washington; people who love design, but aren’t design majors. As interest in the field of design, specifically digital product design has grown in the past several years, students have found there is no on-campus resource or organization that can guide them unless they wanted to devote their four years to study to design itself. Engineers, architects, artists, and computer scientists were without an interdisciplinary community to get involved in that shared their appreciation for design. Thus, Pixel Husky was born: An organization with members from every major that fostered an interdisciplinary design education, and passion for the craft.
Students needed to know that design isn't some mysterious "thing" that happens behind closed doors — it's something anyone can participate in and enjoy
After attending and enjoying several Pixel Husky events from the beginning, I found I thoroughly enjoyed what the club offered and didn’t want to see it disbanded for a second time. I applied to be the creative director and was eventually chosen to work with the new co-presidents Stella Ding and Tim Lau for the following school year, 2016-2017. Over the summer together with a team of five other students, we rebuilt Pixel Husky from the ground up.
More than just prettier pixels — this redesign needed to have a purpose that solved the problems we knew we would face.
From the get-go, the most important thing I wanted Pixel Husky to be was a community. I’d seen first hand the kinds of successful interdisciplinary collaborations that occurred when the club was founded, and wanted to bring that back. The first task I got to work on as the new creative director was rebranding the organization to align with our new mission: Provide a space for students of any major to learn from each other, and share their mutual passion for design.
Before I began the redesign, I had to answer the question: why redesign at all? While the Pixelated husky logo that the organization had previously was the perfect symbol for the club early on, our growing aspirations called for branding that could be used across screens and print. Pixel Husky to this point had been wildly inconsistent between events, and on more than one occasion participants hadn’t realized that the event they were attending was organized by the same club meeting they attended a few weeks back. Unifying the design language for events would be beneficial to participants old and new, and was something we decided was necessary going forward.
What would set this apart from the 100's of on-campus organizations? Bright colors, bold typography, and balanced geometry.
Constructing a comprehensive moodboard with branding examples from a variety of sources allowed me to focus on the types of visual elements and the overall feeling I wanted Pixel Husky to have.
Passion, Community, and Collaboration; the core values of the organization.
These values are something I wanted to emphasize with our branding for the new year. The succession problem was also something that we as executive organizers wanted to deal with; an on-campus organization is only as good as it’s committee, and each team cycles through every year. In order to make sure the organization was truly passed on to the next “generation”, a new rebranding would occur each year, organized by whomever is elected to the creative director position. As the creative director for this new year, my rebrand would become the template used for future executive teams. With this in mind, I began sketching and ideating what a potential logo and branding elements would look like.
A redesign can't just be a logo though — it needs typography, image guidelines, and the ability to adapt and evolve as time goes on.
Early on, I decided I wanted to use Circular as my primary typeface. Its mainstream adoption as a “trendy” typeface began after the Spotify rebrand, and would be a perfect fit for our web-first promotional usage. Making Pixel Husky branding using a lot of the popular design trends this year (high contrast colors, etc.) serves the purpose of educating our audience of what is popular currently. More importantly, in a few years when Pixel Husky looks completely different, future members will be able to look back at past branding and events as a sort of “time capsule” of design trends. I think this speaks back one of the core principles of Pixel Husky as not only a community that is passionate about design, but also a crowd sourced effort providing design education.
Several of my concepts felt the same, using the aforementioned design trends of high contrast colors optimized for our mostly web usage, the Circular typeface, abstract geometric shapes, and high resolution duotone / color overlay photography. The biggest differences in the end were the final two concepts I presented to our executive team; “The Husky” and “The Impossible PH”. In the end, it was decided that the impossible PH, inspired in part by the work of M.C. Escher would be the logomark we use. A slightly modified Circular font would comprise our wordmark, and the two would be unified by similar corner radius’.
With the guidelines in place and the visual style set, the brand finally began to take shape
Throughout the year, I was responsible for creating visual assets for a variety of deliverables including sponsorship documents, facebook banners, and promotional flyers. With our exciting new brand in place, it wasn't long before a cohesive visual style and familiarity was achieved with our attendees.