Huiqin Gao | UX Designer
I design to make information more accessible.
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Designing for Journal Center at iSchool

The iSchool’s Journal Center received funding at the beginning of 2017 to increase its visibility and memorability among international peers through a new branding scheme.

I was hired to help them develop a branding identity, design a logo, and develop marketing materials (flyers, trifolds, business cards, etc.).

Branding for a Journal Center

Designing for Journal Center at iSchool, Wuhan University

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Background

For: Journal Center of School of Information Management (iSchool), Wuhan University

Length: 90 hours (March 2017 - present)

Skills: Stakeholder interviewing, ideation, logo design, graphic design

Tools: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop

My role: Designer

What is Lighthouse?

The iSchool’s Journal Center received funding at the beginning of 2017 to increase its visibility and memorability among international peers through a new branding scheme.

I was hired to help them develop a branding identity, design a logo, and develop marketing materials (flyers, trifolds, business cards, etc.).

 

 
 

Branding identity and logo

Understanding

To develop a recognizable and consistent branding identity, I started by conducting a stakeholder interview with Dr. Enmei Song, the Director of the Journal Center. I sought to understand the specific ideas and feelings the administration wanted people to have about the Journal Center and to clarify their organizational branding goals. Essential to my design process, this information allowed me to consider the “why” of the Journal center, informing my design suggestions. It also helped me avoid the common frustration of differing designer-client expectations.  

My first project was the Journal Center’s logo. After conducting a competitive analysis of other editorial journal logos, I set out with the first step, ideation. 

 

Branding identity and logo

Ideation

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I used pencil and paper to quickly sketch out my ideas, allowing me to put down my thoughts without getting stuck in details.

 

Branding identity and logo

Digitization and communication

From my drawings, I selected the images that most closely reflected the Journal Center’s dignified academic ethos and Dr. Song’s vision of using characteristics associated with libraries and archive science.

I digitized the logos in blue — the color most commonly used in information technology — and selected a modern yet elegant serif font as text placeholder.

 
 
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Following client feedback, I designed three new logos to include the ethos and history of Wuhan University, a 120-year-old institution. Each of the shapes in my new designs derive from traditional Chinese cultural symbols: design A is inspired by Chinese knotting, design B is inspired by a Chu pattern, and design C is a pair of jades.

 
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Branding identity and logo

Deliver

After organizing the graphics, typeface, and color palette options in Adobe Illustrator, I exported the files and created a specification document for my client.

We selected the final logo and color palette together for the design. Opting for contrasting colors that could be viewed by all people, including those with reduced color perception, My client and I chose dark blue and orange for the final logo colors.

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Marketing materials

To further promote the Journal Center and its mission, I developed marketing materials. Of particular importance were the display boards I designed for iConference 2017. As the first iConference held outside of North America and Europe, the Journal Center saw this as an important opportunity to inform people about the journals they publish.

I broke this project into two primary goals:

  1. Design display boards that would grab conference goers’ attention

  2. Convey important, memorable information about each journal

 

Marketing materials

Understanding

To gain an empathetic insight of my client’s goals, I conducted another stakeholder interview with Dr. Song of the Journal Center. I explored his expectations through high-level questions, and I collected several photos of the conference hall to provide context for the project and allow me to consider the experience of the conference participants. For further inspiration, I conducted a competitive analysis on the display boards of academic publications.

 

Marketing materials

Ideation

I sketched out all of my ideas on paper before finally settling on a concept I felt was both informative and attention-grabbing. To help me organize and space the information, I applied a grid system to the layout.

 

Marketing materials

Design and communication

4 x 8 Grid system

4 x 8 Grid system

I arranged the text content in three hierarchical levels. First, I set the journal titles against large, bold-colored backgrounds to bring prominence to the name, even from a distance. I added the subsections “about this journal” “aims and scope” and “database inclusion” to highlight important information and invite viewers to come closer for in-depth information on each of the categories.

 
Golden ratio

Golden ratio

By applying the golden ratio to each of the columns and rows, I made sure the viewers would feel comfortable looking at the display for a while, thus encouraging them to read the content.

Dr. Song was very happy with my work and immediately forwarded it to Professor Feicheng Ma, Director of Information Resources Research Center, for his feedback. Upon his approval of my design, I perfected each design board and sent them to the print shop for the final product.

 

Marketing materials

Deliver

I delivered my design of four display boards to Dr. Song together with a specification document.

 
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The display boards were successful. It attracted people as I designed, and even became a popular photo spot at the conference.

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Because of the success, in the following year, Dr. Song asked me to design a Chinese version of the display boards for another conference. Apart from adjusting they layout to fit another language, I created different visual elements to appeal to the younger crowd of the event.

 
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More projects

Branding identity, logo, and marketing materials complete, I am now designing the journal covers. This project just began, so I do not yet have examples of my work. However, my focus is on bringing brand consistency from their marketing materials to their product.