DESIGN AT UCSD BRAND REFRESH 2016

Design at UCSD is the oldest and largest design thinking organization in the UC System. Since its founding, Design at UCSD has helped create a community for human-centered design (HCD) students and prepared them for the industry.


Role: sole graphic designer

Accomplished: new branding + created brand manual + applied brand across various mediums

Tools: Adobe Illustrator + Adobe Photoshop


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The logo

The original founding members of Design at UCSD came up with an iconic logo consisting of 4 horizontal lines; the logo represented the distinctive shape of the UCSD Geisel Library. When I took the role as Graphic Studio Chair in 2016, I collaborated with board members to retouch the logo, introduce new color scheme and font, and re-stylize the organization name.


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The original

The original logo was iconic and distinctively Design at UCSD. Nonetheless, in order to keep up with the times, a change was necessary. The black-and-white color scheme appeared too cold for an organization aimed at building a sense of community. The font choice also appeared out-of-date. Not to mention that new university policies prohibited organizations to use the words “UCSD“ unless an “at“ was added before UCSD.

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Attempts to “rebuild” Geisel

At first, I attempted to build a completely new logo that’s inspired by the original logo with added creativity. Two proposal were presented: a 3D-style Geisel logo and a paintbrush-style Geisel logo. My fellow board members immediately pointed out that a paintbrush-style logo may lead people to assume that Design at UCSD is an arts organization instead of one focusing on UX, UI, and HCD. On the other hand, 3D logo did get some “wows“. After going through a couple of other proposals submitted by board members, in the end, we all agreed to stick to the original minimalistic logo and introduce new color schemes and fonts.


Completion of Logo Design and Visual Identity Guideline

Working with fellow board members, new font choices and color palettes were explored for the new brand. We took inspiration from the school colors of UCSD: blue and gold. By blending the two, we came up with a cyan-based color palette. As for the font, we ditched the original Helvetica font and went for a more contemporary Calibre font. We also made the decision the stylize the organization as designatucsd for aesthetic purposes. Finalizing the foundation of the brand, we moved on to creating a visual identity guideline.

This was my first attempt at creating a visual identity guideline. Taking inspiration from guidelines of brands such as Cunard, BBC…among others, I focused on the graphic design component of the brand. The guideline primarily focused on digital and print applications of the logo.

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Select Work



Related - Webpage UX/UI Design

Completed by the team of Elmer Barrera, Michael Hohl, Alex Li, Vincent Liaw, Ed Ngai, and Danielle Tobey. The decision to launch a “salmon“ accent color and “tilted“ design later became incorporated in my graphic design work for the organization.


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Design at UCSD later went through a complete rebrand in 2017. Read the case study here.

To learn more about Design at UCSD, visit https://designatucsd.org