Published Originally: Sunday | November 5, 2017, in the Gleaner
Fifteen students from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts benefited from a real-life experience in brand development sponsored by three social enterprises, which they worked with over a one-year period.
The opportunity for the students, who are from the School of the Visual Arts, Visual Communication Department, emerged from a partnership between the JN Foundation and the college.
Saffrey Brown, general manager of the JN Foundation, said that the joint venture was beneficial to both parties. Miriam Hinds-Smith, the dean of the School of the Visual Arts, concurred that the initiative would build stakeholder partnerships, provide students with the opportunity to engage meaningfully, giving of themselves to the community
in a collaborative social responsible initiative as professionals in training, which is a key component of the school’s mandate.
Susan Lee Quee, head of visual communications at the School of the Visual Arts, explained: “Embedding real-world projects in the visual communications curriculum gives students the opportunity to collaborate and co-create as they work with clients to produce design solutions for identified target audiences. The experience is essential to their professional development.”
Sara Shabaka, lecturer at the Edna Manley College, who spearheaded the project, said that the department had engaged in projects with external entities before, however, this project was the most involved and expanded engagement to date. It was the first such venture that afforded the students the opportunity to develop brand kits and implement their ideas for real companies through many approaches.
“This was the first time that students were able to design brand identities, print collateral material, digital design, and, particularly, environmental graphics for clients,” she pointed out.
Shabaka noted that the project was implemented in two phases. In stage one, the students met with clients and immersed themselves in the brand, developing visual identities and brand guidelines. In stage two, they implemented the brand with 2D and 3D designs.
She said that brand immersion also required students to go on field trips to the social enterprises and participate in one-on-one consultations with representatives of the companies.
“The students did an excellent job, and they also enjoyed the experience,” Shabaka pointed out. “Good design can be achieved when the client is really clear, positive, and passionate about their business.”
Jade De La Haye, a participant in the project, who will continue to work with Social Enterprise Boost Initiatives (SEBI) on a new brand kit, said that the exposure was a different approach from what he had experienced previously when working individually in a classroom situation.
“It was an immense experience. The exposure was good, and the outcome was excellent,” he said.
The 22 year-old student said that the synergy among the members of his team also contributed to the success of the project. “We had good chemistry, and everyone had an input in the project,” he said.
The social enterprises that benefited from the brand development project were Bunkers Hill Cultural Xperience & River Tour, an eco-tourism facility in Bunkers Hill, Trelawny; Deaf Can! Coffee, a social enterprise that engages, empowers and employs Deaf Youth and Image Training Centre, a career enhancement service that provides a range of customised courses focused on soft skills development.
Bunkers Hill benefited from logo development, signage for the property, and collateral materials such as brochures and flyers.
Clover Gordon, co-owner of the Bunkers Hill Cultural Xperience & River Tour, said that working with the Edna Manley College students was exceptional and beneficial to her business.
“It defies description,” she said about the experience. “They did such a good job. They were well mannered, and we are very pleased with the outcome of their excellent work.”
The alliance was structured to assist enterprises participating in the Social Enterprise Boost Initiatives, a project of the JN Foundation in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).