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“What do you want people to think when they engage with your product?”

In only one semester, the VCU Brandcenter curriculum has shaped how I talk to people and how I approach design thinking. I have learned that if your brand doesn’t have a message, you get lost in the water. This has shaped how I talk to people, particularly when we get into discussions about logo design or app design. I always find myself going back to the core message:

“What do you want people to think when they engage with your product?”

This question informs all my decisions- everything from color palette selection to execution.

This idea became particularly important when we were given real, local clients for a class assignment. The assignment was to create a holiday window display for a local storefront. I had worked with real clients in the past doing photography, but this was the first time I had worked in a team with a client that involved production.

Through this project, I’ve learned many valuable lessons. I’ve learned how to open lines of communication with the client (in order to walk them through the ideation stages, and avoid jumping straight into execution), and I’ve learned to work within parameters of creating a user experience in an existing space. I’ve learned to come back to the core message of the brand, and was able to uncover this brand’s mission and vision and tie that into the project. I’ve learned the importance of everything I create having a purpose.

The VCU Brandcenter has been a truly wonderful experience so far, and a big part of that comes from the people here. My track (experience design) is full of passionate people who are nurturing and ready to share knowledge. I love it so much — something I’ve never said about school before — because this program is a place that challenges you to keep growing and to become better at the things you love to do. The happiness the program gives me is so contagious that four of my friends from undergrad have asked to visit for informational interviews. I haven’t felt this ‘at home’ in a very long time.

-Tobi Oluwo, experience design track, class of 2019