Taiwanese Students Association
Branding, Creative Direction

With its growing presence and changing membership, the Taiwanese Students Association needed an identity that felt fresh but still respectful of its tradition. Using fluid strokes that allude to the Taiwanese landscape, Alvin Wong and I gave Carnegie Mellon's TSA a new identity.

The Problem
Founded in 1995, the Taiwanese Students Association is one of the biggest Asian-interest organizations in Carnegie Mellon. Although it started out with predominantly Taiwanese students, over the past few years, it has seen a growth in diversity and a gradual uptick in younger members.

Every year a new Graphics chair is elected, and every year it becomes more of a challenge to design for the organization without a clear headway in terms of style and consistency. The organization was in dire need of a unified vision that respects what the organization used to be and is in full anticipation of what it is becoming.

Since this is a self-initiated project, we gave ourselves two months to finish the project in time for when recruitment for new members rolls around. On top of devising a new logo and visual system, we also needed to introduce the organization to new students through promotional items.
The Research
Before devising any strategy of approach, we wanted to make sure we accurately portrayed the organization as seen by the people involved. We asked members to use words that come to mind when they think about TSA, and some of the key words we got from them were "tight knit", "close", "family", "diverse", "eclectic", "comfort", and "home." One person suggested that TSA serves as a cushion of familiarity and a place for making lasting relationships. It tethers them to their roots and in some cases informs them about it. There's not just one type of people that end up in the organization. It's for people of all walks of life and continues to be home to a range of personalities. They find Taiwanese culture in different places of their lives, whether it be their home, their family, or their friends. 

TSA is also oriented around its three pillars - service, social, and culture. They are the cornerstones of the events the organization hosts and the responsibilities people who run it have. Above all else, the identity represents Taiwan, because promoting Taiwanese culture continues to be a crucial part of this organization.

CMU TSA Logo Animation from Sharon Yu on Vimeo.

The Product
In the beginning, we played around with the idea of a word mark made from stacking the letters 'T', 'S', and 'A' in a way that resembled stamps used to sign legal documents in Taiwan. We also tried placing words together in the way of Taiwanese street signs. Taking a literal interpretation of Taiwanese staples proved to be restricting and not representative of the 'people' aspect of a student organization. A student organization is based on parts becoming a whole in a way that doesn't discount the merit of the individual parts, and the new logo is an extension of that idea.

The new logo combines the three pillars of the organization represented by three landmarks of Taiwanese culture. 'Culture' outlines the slopes of Buddhist temples in Taiwan, 'service' outlines its mountains, a key feature of the island, and 'social' outlines not only the hoops that hold up sky lanterns but also the sky that holds it all together. Without the social aspect, TSA wouldn't be a functional student association.

The weight and roundness of the lines bring a friendliness to the logo, and they can be placed in space to give it more dynamism. The strokes look just as good distributed across a page as it does standing by themselves, and the bold colors are toned down to give the system gravity. The logo can also be broken down to its three respective parts to use for different types of events the organization hosts.

We created Facebook banners and stickers to promote membership to the organization during orientation week, and we also made T-shirts for the members. The identity is playful, adaptable, and a different take on what a student organization can look like.
Next Project -
Youtube Stage