Course Spotlight – Branding: Icons, Logos, and Identity Systems

We’ve recently updated and retitled one of the required courses for the DCA certificate–Icons, Logos, and Logotype Design is now Branding: Icons, Logos, and Identity Systems. Instructor Shirin Raban chats more about why we’ve decided to update the course and what changes students can expect:

What is the new focus of this course? How does it differ from the previous iteration?

We’ve taken the traditional icon and logo design to a new realm, by introducing the concept of context. Of course we still learn how to create memorable visual marks, icons or logos by determining the essence of the brand through asking questions, researching, brainstorming, sketching and critiques. At the same time, we explore comprehensive environments to discover the most effective and appropriate visual identity solutions. These solutions may include a variety of elements that in turn work together to build visual communication systems that create the brand.

Why did you and the department decide to make this change?

UCLA Extension is constantly reinventing the programs to keep the courses fresh and on the cutting edge. As electronic media and user experience become more prominent, it is imperative that we address branding and identity design accordingly. Students need to investigate the whole gamut of elements that are included in a brand to communicate the message more effectively. As the landscape becomes more diverse and preferences become more individualized, brands need closer attention to detail as well as the big picture to become more relevant.

What learning outcomes will I take away from this course?

You will learn the following:
1.  To design effective logos
2.  To develop a thorough understanding of communication systems and visual branding as they relate to context and meaning
3.  To create portfolio worthy case studies to document the design process and to present final items being used in their natural environment

Do you have a sample assignment?

We have three projects in this class:

Project A is the design of a logo for a retail or public space. The logo will be applied to three strategic marketing materials in keeping consistent with the company brand image. Public space examples can be a retail store, school, museum, restaurant, train station, hospital, etc. Here’s an example:

Project B focuses on the overall visual branding design for the actual retail or public environment from Project A. Students will create new elements that visually communicate the overall brand identity. A holistic approach to understanding the big picture as well as the details is necessary. Here’s an example:

Project C is to create a communication system based on a historical look at cave paintings, icons, patterns, pictographs, languages, hieroglyphs, phonetic alphabets and the concept of semiotics (context related meanings). This system is used as branding elements to apply to a company with a similar value system. Here’s an example:

Thanks, Shirin! Enroll in Branding: Icons, Logos, and Identity Systems (online) today!


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