Homecoming is an annual banner-event hosted at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). It takes place in October of each year and features student events, confrences, a carnival, and a headlining comedian. The graphic identity is left to the discretion of the designer, though it must follow UMBC brand identity guidelines.
The UMBC Homecoming 2018 branding identity utilises a simple “flag shape” base, which emphasises the UMBC name and “dawg” image. Lines are used sparingly to lead the eye but maintain a minimalist varsity design.
The UMBC Homecoming 2018 branding was used by all campus departments, including Campus Administration and external marketing. As I was graduating UMBC that summer, this design was created to be easily utilised by my successor.
Client: (Working in-house) UMBC Student Life
DESIGN BRIEF: Create a clean and unique design that defines UMBC’s 2018 Homecoming. The design should represent UMBC and must adhere to UMBC branding guidelines. The design should also be able to seamlessly translate into shirts and other printed merchandise given away during Homecoming week.
In creating the UMBC Homecoming 2018 branding identity, I reported directly to the head of UMBC Student Life. For brand approval I submitted the logo to UMBC’s Director of Design, who also kindly provided feedback during the design process. In order to make sure the design was ready to use by others before my contract ended, I worked with feedback from the head of Commonvision (printing and design centre).
Homecoming 2018 brand identity appeared throughout the university campus in print and digital forms; signage in the form of tabloids and lawn signs, free merchandise for students such as shirts and mugs, documents and equiptment such as staff and volunteer passes, and also on campus televisions using i-Net.
As merchandise was not ordered until after the end of my contract, I prepared several sizes of the logo to be used by my predecessor. Staff and volunteer passes were prepared with the obverse left blank for my successor to include the comedian’s information. i-Net animations were created by the UMBC Commonvision team, who oversee campus design and printing.
DEVELOPING THE DESIGN
Preparing prototypes for UMBC Homecoming 2018, I was intent on showcasing UMBC’s interdisciplinary success. I created the “shield” logo and the “flag” logos, both of which incorporated icons of different departments in the design.
The shield prototype was most successful with UMBC Student Life staff team, who liked the emphasis given to STEM, Theatre, Sports, History, and World & Language studies. The department also agreed this design looked best on a shirt (the main merchandise given out during Homecoming). I made several versions of the shield prototype, of which Student Life picked the third option. Interviewing fellow students, the shield logo was most popular with those in the arts and humanities who appreciated the representation (in national media UMBC is usually most widely recognised for its success in the STEM field).
The flag prototype was most successful with UMBC’s senior designers, who noted the complex shield was visually busy and risked alienating departments not explicitly represented. The flag’s minimalism would transfer well onto all merchandise and press releases, and was visually calmer. Talking to fellow students, the flag logo was most popular with design students and those involved in sports who appreciated a more traditional “varsity” style icon. Following UMBC’s recent success in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament , the senior design team echoed this sentiment.
Though the shield was preferred by myself and UMBC Student Life, we acknowleged the practicality of the flag logo and the potential risk of the icons alienating other departments. Ultimately the flag logo was chosen with the department icons replaced by a repeating line texture.
During edits, the UMBC logo was made larger and overlapped the top of the flag. The additional white outline made the ‘UMBC’ pop. Senior designers suggested the banner be made gold, as the white was overpowering the “dawg”. It was also suggested the lines below ‘Homecoming’ be removed and the space left empty. I argued for the lines to be kept as they added visual interest and helped guide the eye through the ‘2018’, rather than reading ’20’ and ’18’ separately.