UTA BRAND DESIGN 2016-18
United Taiwanese Association (UTA) is the Taiwanese undergraduate student organization at University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Since 1992, UTA has been creating a home away from home for Taiwanese students abroad.
Role: sole graphic designer
Accomplished: new branding for UTA + applied brand across various mediums
Tools: Adobe Illustrator + Adobe Photoshop
Throughout its 25 year-history, UTA introduced new logos every year. The brand never had a memorable identity. During my two terms as Publicity Officer (graphic designer) for UTA between 2016 and 2018, I introduced a logo that was unmistakably and uniquely UTA. I took inspiration from Chinese calligraphy, colors of the Republic of China flag, and combined the words “UTA“ with the Chinese words of Taiwan “台灣“.
When I was first tasked with designing a long-lasting and eye-catching brand for UTA, I started by brainstorming representations of Taiwan. The first things that came to mind were the shape of Taiwan island and the iconic Taipei 101 building. Yet, practically every brand associated with Taiwan uses one of the two symbols. Not content with creating a logo that can used by literally any other Taiwan-related organization, I started exploring other options. I turned my attention to the Chinese words of Taiwan: “台灣”. I thought to myself, the Chinese language has one of the most beautiful scripts. Why not combine the words “UTA“ with “台灣”?
At first, I presented a rather abstract design (top left). My fellow board members reacted by saying, “I have no idea what this logo is about“. Neither “台灣“ nor “UTA“ were legible. After altering various parts of the logo (upper right), the response still wasn’t positive.
Thinking about how I could increase the legibility while not simply using conventional Chinese fonts, I decided to bring in calligraphy (lower left). This time, the board members started getting excited. Yet, they pointed out that “UTA“ still wasn’t legible. Following a few more tweaks on Illustrator (lower center), I finally produced a design (lower right) that got the backing from the entire board. After coloring the design with the red and blue from flag of the Republic of China, a new logo was born.
During my first term, I focused on creating fun and unique designs for each and every application of the brand. Having each design be different and eye-catching was important as UTA wasn’t a professional organization; we had to work hard on putting out new and attractive marketing to ensure attendance. Nonetheless, despite their differences, all the designs had a cohesive central theme: to immediately remind Taiwanese students of Taiwan.
2016-17 Welcome Week Flyer
To instantly remind Taiwanese students of home, I drew a traditional Taiwanese fruit stand run by a friendly neighborhood grandma. Flipping over, the back of the fruit stand stacked with unopened boxes filled with fruits and vegetables.
2016-17 Membership Card
My design for the membership card was inspired by a bat woodcarving. Bat is a representation of prosperity in Chinese culture. In Taiwan, many heritage sites incorporate the bat element into their designs, either for furniture, window frames, doors, or roof.
During my second term, I was both President and Publicity Officer of UTA. Learning from my first term, I focused more on font and color consistency. At the same time, UTA also started exploring a new marketing techniques: GIF and Instagram Stories. Moving GIFs helped us ensure that every post we published didn’t go unnoticed. Instagram Stories helped draw attention to UTA in the age of decline for Facebook. Vertical images were created for optimized Instagram effects.
2017-18 Welcome Week Flyer
This year, I took a more conservative approach for the flyer design. On the front, a picture of Taipei Basin with the skyscrapers in Xinyi district in the background. A gradient is used to highlight the rows of mountains surrounding Taipei. A diamond pattern was also used to boost readability and later became the signature pattern for the school year. On the back, a straightforward grid layout to showcase all the upcoming events. The signature “Hi there! Welcome!“ message was still maintained.
2017-18 Membership Card
Continuing the conservative approach, the membership card for 2017-18 used a “UTA“ pattern from the logo. The gray gradient gave the card a more corporate feel. On the back, a list of restaurants where the card can be used.