Class project yields 'sweet' job offer

During winter term, graphic designs students of Jodi Staniunas-Hopper’s Corporate Identification and Branding class participated in a contest to produce the best logo for a local Erie business.

Corporate Identification and Branding is an upper-level graphic design course in which students learn about visual branding. Students spend the first three weeks of the course learning the process with the use of an imaginary company, and in the last seven weeks of the term, the students had a chance to work with real companies.

This year, the Small Business Development Center helped Mercyhurst College to connect with four Erie businesses: Engineered Plastics Inc. (EPI), Pulakos Chocolates, Natural Options and Scattergun Reserve. This is the third year that the Small Business Development Center has helped Mercyhurst students connect with local businesses to learn marketing skills.

The class divided into groups, each group was assigned a client for which to design a logo. The winning group produced a logo for Pulakos Chocolates. Its members included junior Debbie Brunner, post-BA Samantha Ciprich, junior Laura McCarty, post-BA Bryan Morphy and junior Samantha Williams.

Staniunas-Hopper explained that early in the process, students provided a client with 100 images which could be used to interpret the company’s character or goal. This visual sort allowed students to better communicate with clients, whose descriptions often did not match those of the visual-minded graphic design students.

“The process is not about the one image,” Staniunas-Hopper said. “It’s about the other 99 pictures, too.”

“The process was very in-depth and involved many steps, but the most important one for the design was our communication with the clients of Pulakos Chocolates,” Williams said.

“By communicating with them and researching their field of business and competitors, we gained an insight to what they needed to successfully portray their company as a chocolate business. We then were able to take that knowledge and apply it to our own unique interpretation by producing a logo design,” Williams said.

Although the group did not win a prize, Williams did find summer employment during the project. She will work for Pulakos Chocolates over the summer to further her involvement in its branding process, and she noted that she looked forward to the “sweet experience” of learning how to make chocolate.

Because Pulakos Chocolates has hired a branding company to launch its new logo to the public, the Merciad cannot publish the logo.

Two of the other companies, EPI and Natural Options, have also adopted the logos designed by Mercyhurst students.