University of Adelaide
Brand identity / Branded environments / Information design

Crossing cultures

Defining a common language between Chinese and Western culture.

Branding and collateral for University of Adelaide conference on System and Network Biology and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

In July 2012 University of Adelaide launched the Zhendong Australia China Centre for Molecular Traditional Chinese Medicine. A significant joint venture involving the University, the Shanxi College of Traditional Medicine and the Zhendong Pharmaceutical Company. In a major coup, and an acknowledgement of the value of the new partnership, the University hosted the first conference for the College to be held outside of Mainland China.

The branding for the conference held wider goals than attracting delegates and was seen as creating an important public face for the joint venture – a nexus of Eastern and Western science. The goal was to provide a mark that clearly embodied Eastern iconography but expressed through a Western design sensibility.

The visual identity is comprised of two key elements of the dragon and the Chinese character for qi with a Chinese chop or stamp identifying South Australia. The origins of the concept were focused on the representation of this nexus or common space between the two cultures.

Extensive background research in both Chinese symbolism and system and network biology led to the qi character that cleverly expressed the idea of energy – the singular common point between both Eastern and Western scientific practice. The dragon form intertwined with the symbol was a critical element to craft a compelling and emotive identity. In keeping with the idea of a western design lens it was deliberately rendered to provide a subtle but significant deviation from the conventional Chinese dragon forms that would appear obvious only to the Chinese conference delegates. Extending the brand story other elements were developed including a 5 metre high illuminated lantern that acted as central focus for the conference space and the design of a series of original gift coins for the delegates featuring the conference and University branding symbolising the partnership.

On the keynote address and launch of the conference by Vice President of Shanxi University Professor Feng Qianjin he remarked how cleverly the conference identity embodied both Eastern and Western philosophy and conveyed a depth of understanding of the Chinese culture.

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