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Community Building, Branding, Animation

DECO, the Designer Community
 Community Building, Branding, Animation

DECO is Ateneo’s org for graphic designers.

My friends and I spent the summer of 2019 interviewing seniors in our course and trying to understand the state of graphic design in our immediate vicinity. 

Perhaps one of the biggest blessings of being an ID student is that the demand for your skills begins almost immediately. Without too much formal training, most of my coursemates begin freelancing a little after freshman year and keep going from there. This is also one of our biggest pitfalls. 

Most graphic designers around me know so much about their craft, yet so little about the industry. Nobody knows how to price their work, and nobody knows how to scale their practice. 

We noticed the knowledge gap for freelancers right away, so we built a community as an attempt to fix that. At the time of its inception, DECO was envisioned as an informal union for graphic designers—a place to organize and standardize everything from org work practices to freelance graphic design rates. 

In the span of a year, we’ve grown from our 10 person team to an org a little over 200 strong. DECO is short for the designer community.

The DECO Brand

The DECO logo takes the golden ratio—a grid system ubiquitous in most creative fields—and skews it 20º to the left. This is meant to acknowledge the rules and standards that make great design, while giving permission to mess things up. 

The logo is obscure at a glance to give members a sense of exclusivity in being able to recognize any meaning behind the symbol.

Beyond the symbol itself, we play loose with our imagery. For our 2019 recruitment week, the central board of the organization created a standard template for our daily posters: the DECO logo, front and center. 

Instructions were simple: do whatever you want—just make sure the logo can still somehow be recognized. 

This irreverence to strict branding gave our org a unique sort of visual freedom that appears to have resonated with a good amount of the student body.