University East London BA Advertising student, Jess Currie, aged 20, collaborated with Roman Road Trust to create the design and brand of the new Common Room logo. The Common Room, formerly the Interact hub designed by students at Cass School of Architecture, is being rebranded as part of the Roman Road Common project. Roman Road Trust is raising funds to turn this temporary community room into a permanent community building.
RRT: How did you find out about the opportunity to collaborate with Roman Road Trust?
I discovered the opportunity to work with Roman Road Trust through an in-house mini advertising agency at University of East London called Creative Wave. Creative Wave provides the opportunity to apply what students learn during their degree to current projects to help small businesses for free. I initially worked as part of a team of six on a five day intensive project. I really enjoyed working as part of Creative Wave so asked my lecturer, Allan Taylor, if there were other opportunities. That’s how I came to learn about working on the Common Room Project with Roman Road Trust.
RRT: What was the brief like for the Common Room Project? Were there any guidelines that you were told to stick to?
There were hardly any restrictions at all! I had a few guidelines that the target audience for the project is anyone in the community, as long as they help the community. The logo had to be clear and simple so it could be used as a favicon for social media and websites. I asked for some key-words to describe the Common Room Project and was given warm, diverse, unthreatening, community and inclusive. I was also given the phrases ‘historical but modern’ and ‘arty but not too clever.’ Although I didn’t have restrictions, I did have some quite tricky balances to achieve. After my initial design, I dropped ‘historical’ and moved more into ‘modern’.
RRT: Could you tell us why you chose this design and what you hope to express through the design?
My first design was very different to the final one. As our neighbouring competitors would be Costa and Starbucks I created a design which had various lines and dashes to represent Roman Road and the junction point near the Common Room location. I then created a design with two uplifting hands to represent the uplifting nature of the community. However, I moved from all of these ideas and decided to go with a bold, simple logo with block colour and a clear typeface. This would not only make the logo easily transferrable onto online platforms, but I’ve always loved the green of the Whatsapp logo. For me, green is a colour of warmth, growth, hope and reassurance and I think the Common Room will represent these things. I think we also associate this vibrant green with apps like Whatsapp and iMessage which are all about keeping in contact and communicating with each other; something that I think is central to the Common Room Project. We decided on the tapered effect on the typeface as these slanting shapes reminded me of an old-fashioned crossroad signpost. Not only is the Common Room located on a very busy junction and crossroad, the Common Room will be a place for the community to go for direction.
RRT: Could you tell us about how you became interested in advertising and marketing?
I’m one of those freaks who watches the TV adverts instead of skipping them! After studying media, photography and English Language at A-level I originally applied for a BA in Media. However, I took a year out and realised that my passion lies solely in advertising.
RRT: Do you think it’s important for people to apply their skills for the benefit of the community?
I think it’s very important to help where and when you can. Especially with small businesses who need a helping hand at a reduced cost compared to the usual, professional London price. It’s great because they get something and I get something!
RRT: Has this inspired you to work on other community projects?
I’ll be doing more work on community projects during the next two years of my degree so I’m looking forward to drawing upon my first-hand experience with Roman Road Trust in my studies.
RRT: What has been most inspiring for you about the project?
Other than knowing that my logo is going to be used in a real project, it’s been great to learn about community rooms. I had no idea they existed! It was very inspiring to learn from my mistakes to produce a logo that Roman Road Trust will be happy to use for the Common Room Project.
RRT: What did working alongside RRT on the Common Room project give you a chance to do that you wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity?
Working on the Common Room Project with Roman Road Trust have given me the opportunity to work on a professional, live project on my own but in a supportive and co-creative environment. Initially, I was quite overwhelmed as I did not have much experience in the processes and steps you need to take when working for a real client. Luckily, Tabitha has lots of experience and has been very supportive. In some ways, she has been more of a fellow colleague or mentor. The project has provided real-world feedback and criticism within a relaxed setting. I’ve definitely learnt that the client is always right.
Roman Road Trust is dedicated to providing opportunities by offering volunteering, work experience and internships. See more about how you can get involved here.