1 The Hackathon.
Major League Hacking (MLH) is an official student hackathon league. Each year, they power over 200 weekend-long invention competitions that inspire innovation, cultivate communities, and teach computer science skills to more than 65,000 students around the world. MLH is an engaged and passionate community, consisting of next generation technology leaders and entrepreneurs.
The Qhacks Hackathon was an idea originally pitched by Alex Adusei, a friend and fellow computer science student in my undergraduate class. He felt that Queen's University should host its own Hackathon, an uprising trend which was seemingly popping up at every major university in Canada. Originally pitched in early November, Alex formed a small team of executives comprising of students from various fields of study across the university. The timeline was roughly 4 months to plan and create an event from the ground up that would host hundreds of students from across North America.
I was recruited to the Qhacks committee in its early stages. They needed a designer with a strong coding background to do branding for the event. I had one week to create a logo, website, and sponsorship package, but most importantly, a distinct brand for the event.
2 Brand Identity.
In a campus filled with pre-existing organizations, clubs, and on-campus businesses, it was important that the Qhacks branding honoured Queen's University's values and heritage, yet stood out and remained distinct amongst the crowd. Queen's University is one of the oldest universities in Canada, dating back to the 1840's, and has a rich historical culture filled with landmarks and traditions that sets it apart from colleges and universities across the globe. We felt that as a team, it was important that we branded ourselves in a way that made attendees feel part of the campus and university.
If you've ever visited Queen's University campus, you would know that inspiration can be found at every corner. In order for our guests to feel like they were a part of the Queen's community, Qhacks' branding really had to feed off of the university's existing identity.
In order to be able to experience this firsthand, I grabbed my camera and some runners and took pictures of anything around campus that I feel represented the university at its core. These images would later provide insight and direction for creating the Qhacks brand.
The following is a map of Queen's Main Campus with highlighted areas that had a strong influence on the Qhacks branding.
Let's face it- when it comes to branding, the logo is the star of the show. How you brand your event will have a large impact on how it will be remembered. Which is why I needed a solid logo that accurately represented the tone of the event. Afterall, I knew this logo was going to be plastered on everything from shirts and cups, to partnership packages and documents, to tote bags. It had be impactful and memorable.
Another vital component of the project was the Qhacks.io website. The web page would act as a central hub for the event, providing information in regards to the event as well as hosting the signup form where Hackers could create an account and apply for the event. Much like the logo, the website would need to reflect the branding of the event.
From the early stages, it was decided that the website would be a one page scroller. This would encourage Hackers to scroll through the entire page and learn about the event before applying. Much like the logo, the website featured references to Queen's University and its campus. Qhacks’ bright and pastel color palette was inspired by the spring season, which is when the event took place.
3 Logo Iterations.
The Qhacks logo received many iterations but primarily centered around two main concepts.
Originally the Qhacks logo was heavily inspired by Queen's athletics mascot, "Boo Hoo the Bear". The logo consisted of a plaid bear's paw print, a tribute to the pattern seen on the bagpiper's kilts who traditionally played at the university's ceremonial events.
However, the logo was later scrapped as the team felt the references would not be obvious to non-Queen's students, nor did the logo feel “distinctly Queen’s”.
The second iteration of the logo took a new approach and featured a geometrical shaped crown inspired by the crowns featured on the university's emblem. The logo consisted of multiple overlapping triangles with its color scheme pulled from the crest itself.
4 The Gallery.
5 Final Thoughts.
I personally consider Qhacks to be one of the more special projects that I've worked on. It's not everyday that you get to be apart of something from start to finish. In addition, with the project's tight deadlines, I really had to learn to prioritize on the overall core design of the project and avoid focusing on insignificant, nitty-gritty details. I hold a lot of pride in my university and I'm so glad to have been able to showcase my institution to students across North America.
6 The Sponsors.
I would like the thank all the sponsors that made this event possible.
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