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JETAA Pittsburgh: logo and identity design

What this is about

JETAA, or the JET Alumni Association, is a network of alumni groups across the globe. Pittsburgh has a small chapter, and I’m the president.

We were long overdue for a logo refresh. This was a labor of love, combining iconic imagery from two places near and dear to my heart.

(All the sketches and digital design work are mine.)

About the JET Program

Short for the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, the JET Program is one of the largest cultural exchange program in the world. Run by the Japanese government, it places participants in primarily rural and suburban placements as employees of local government offices. There, they serve as grassroots cultural ambassadors and assistant language teachers for 1-5 years.

Involving the entire chapter

This was collaborative from the very beginning.

I started by polling our chapter for their favorite iconic images related to Pittsburgh and Japan.

Pittsburgh images:

  • three rivers
  • bridges

Japanese images:

  • hinomaru
  • torii
  • cherry blossoms
  • Mt. Fuji
  • kimono

Sketches, round 1: general investigations of pairing different elements with each other. I introduced several Pittsburgh landmarks and famous Japanese ukiyo-e images as well.

Rough exploration of imagery matching

Sketches, round 2: a revised round on several of the concepts. The JETAA Pittsburgh community voted on these.

Top to bottom, left to right:

  • three rivers and hinomaru
  • torii and Sister Bridge
  • cherry blossom branch and three rivers
  • Fort Pitt Bridge and torii (based off a Hokusai woodblock image)
  • sacred camphor tree and three rivers
  • Mt. Fuji and three rivers (based off a Hokusai woodblock image)
  • Mt. Fuji and Sister Bridge (based off a Hokusai woodblock image)
  • Mt. Fuji and Sister Bridge
Refined series of logo sketches

Moving to digital

These were done in Sketch.

hinomaru x three rivers
(2 variations on river line weight)
Sister Bridge x torii
Cherry blossom x three rivers
(2 variations on branch thickness)
Mt. Fuji overlooking the three rivers

Sister Bridge x Mt. Fuji
(based off a Hokusai woodblock image)
Mt. Fuji behind a Sister Bridge

And the winner is…

The community voted on the above. Two images came out as clear winners, but I made an executive choice to go with this one! (The red matched most other JETAA logos, and this was by far the most easily reproducible.)

Second place was the cherry blossom/3-rivers mash-up, which was honestly my favorite. I plan to use that as secondary imagery wherever possible.