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Design Intern

July - September 2018

Background

My Role

My role in Phil Anthropy House was to help clients establish their nonprofits. As the only design intern, this meant I focused primarily on helping clients develop a brand through creating logos. I also made minor improvements to the organization's website, such as updating information and fixing bugs.

The Client

The client I worked with, Zachary, started a nonprofit called Advance the World with the purpose of educating high schoolers about topics in STEM using real-world experiences. The first project he wanted to launch was called Formula STEM, which aimed to bring students to a racetrack so they can learn about physics through racing. He tasked me with helping him design logos for Advance the World as well as Formula STEM.

Sketching

I began by first thinking of ideas and concepts related to the nonprofit and the program. For the nonprofit, I thought of how Zachary wanted to make the world a better place, how he wanted to enlighten and inspire high schoolers, and how he wanted to educate them on STEM topics. From there, I created a globe with an arrow around it to symbolize forward movement as well as the rotation of the Earth. Then, I created another sketch where the globe is part of a lightbulb. I also added a person sitting on top holding a book and a beaker. I created more refined versions of both ideas in Figma.

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For the program, I wanted to incorporate some racing elements along with physics elements into the logo. Some ideas I thought of were a car passing a finish line and a car drifting around a corner. However, I didn't really like either idea. After a while, I thought of two more ideas: one having the name of the program on a tire with force arrows to show the physics of the tire moving, and the other with the name of the program with a tire outline at the "M" in STEM, with aerodynamic lines flowing down the top of the program name and a checkered flag underline. I thought that both ideas were a lot cleaner and conveyed the theme of the program better, so I created a more refined version of them in Figma.

Iteration

I showed Zachary the sketches I created on Figma so he could give feedback on them. After viewing them, he said he liked them overall but wanted more of a simple and minimalistic approach to them. In particular, he liked the globe as a lightbulb idea. From there, I iterated on the logos. I kept the globe as a lightbulb but took out parts that were unnecessary, such as the person on top. I also simplified the globe itself by making it a single color. With the Formula STEM logo, I decided on the second logo, since I felt that having the name on the tire would make it harder to read and scale. I took out the aerodynamic lines and checked flag underline to get down to the core elements of the logo.

The Result

I sent these revised versions back to Zachary and he thought they were great! Here is the final version of the logos:

Takeaways

One thing I learned about designing logos is that simple logos often work better than complex ones. In fact, this is common in industry, with companies like Nike, Apple and many other companies having elegant but simple logos. At first, I was trying to fit too many concepts into the logos and instead of adding to the meaning, the extra additions detracted from it and created clutter. After taking away parts that I tried to force in, the logos became much clearer and more refined.

 

I also learned a lot about the importance of having open communication with clients. In the beginning, there was some miscommunication between me and Zachary. I had initially thought that the program to bring students to a racetrack was the entirety of the nonprofit, so I started creating sketches with that in mind. This was compounded by the fact that the program did not have a name yet. From this, I learned firsthand about the value of effective communication with stakeholders, and to always ensure that we are on the same page so we can work together efficiently.

 

Another thing I learned from this experience was the kind of environment that I would want to be a part of in future positions. Although I learned a lot and had creative freedom, I feel like collaborating with others in a team setting would have generated more unique ideas. Being in a team would have also allowed for more feedback and iteration, which would have enhanced the end product.

Phil Anthropy House is a nonprofit organization that runs various philanthropic programs as well as provide resources and services to help others create nonprofits of their own. You can find their website here.