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Students Create Branding for SF Fire Department's 150th Anniversary

Academy of Art University has introduced the branding campaign and official logo for the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) 150th Anniversary. The campaign was created by students from the Academy’s School of Graphic Design and will be an integral part of all SFFD anniversary events and programming held this year.

The anniversary logo was created Academy Graphic Design graduate Astra Sodarsono, MFA 2012.

Two classes of Graphic Design students competed with each other to create unique systems. To develop their approaches, the students immersed themselves in the fire department’s history, becoming experts in all things SFFD. They interviewed firefighters and accompanied fire engines and the fireboat to gain firsthand knowledge about the men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting the community.

The scope of the branding campaign was large. The winning Academy student team designed marketing materials, website templates, branding guidelines, promotional materials, commemorative items and merchandise, all guided by a comprehensive style manual that SFFD will use throughout its anniversary year.

In return, Academy students gained invaluable, real-world experience–and an impressive entry to their graphic design portfolio–that mirrors the professional design and branding process. The students now have a valuable project they can include in their portfolios and show to potential employers. And the partnership with SFFD dovetails with the Academy’s mission to prepare its students to succeed as professionals in creative careers.

School of Graphic Design Chair Mary Scott describes the process: “We were asked by Academy President Elisa Stephens to work with the SFFD on its 150th anniversary. The students of two classes, plus an MFA student—led by Graduate Director Phil Hamlett and Associate Director Tom McNulty—worked out a program that included everything from identity design to branding, video interviews, product design, website and collateral material. In just a few weeks, the two student teams performed magnificently, addressing all the needs put forth by the SFFD.

“The final presentation was a thrilling moment, as the students presented the results of their efforts to Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White and her colleagues. They were overwhelmed by the professionalism and quality of work from the students. Needless to say, my buttons were bursting.”

In addition to SFFD’s guidance on the branding project, the Guardians of the City (an organization devoted to celebrating the lives, history and service of city and county first responders of the Fire, Police, Sheriff and Emergency Medical Departments) provided invaluable knowledge and support for the final product.

“It was an honor and privilege to work with the San Francisco Fire Department and help them celebrate their historic achievement,” says Academy President Elisa Stephens. “Academy of Art University strongly believes in supporting local institutions and organizations that provide essential, life-enhancing services that benefit the entire San Francisco community.”


Student Teams (all BFA students, School of Graphic Design)
Jelita Aldrich
Corinne Bautista
Shui Hua Chang
Peggy Chu
Ray Dao (team leader)
Maria Esparza (support leader)
Kyle Fiore
Kaelyn Harbison
Alireza Jajarmi (team leader)
Zihang Jiao
Kuan Wei Liao
Cinny Lee
Ballesa Martinez
Miriam Martinez
Yirui Qian
Hannah Ray (team leader)
Ashlee Rice
Adriana Romhanyi
Seen Ringkapan
Joshua Sanders (team leader)
Carissa The
Sandy Thongkham
Miles Vollenweider
Robert Walter
Tsai Yi Wen
Alexander König Winquvist
Dongni Yang

School of Graphic Design Faculty
Mary Scott, Chair
Phil Hamlett, Graduate Director
Tom McNulty, Associate Director


Astra Sodarsono (logo designer)
Chiara Headrick (photographer)

Joanne Hayes-White (chief)
Mindy Talmadge (administrative officer)
David Ebarle (chief of staff)

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