Students design branding for charity

One of Scotland’s newest and most striking buildings has taken the latest step from drawing board to a reality with the help of two young trainee graphic designers from Edinburgh College.

The Gorebridge Community Development Trust, a volunteer-led charity that supports local economic and social regeneration, is creating a new £2.2m centre and enlisted students Rhys McGeary and Liam Henderson to create its new brand identity.

The designers took the name suggested through a competition, the Gorebridge Beacon, and worked it up into a new logo that symbolises the point of the new centre, which opens next year. The new centre will provide affordable, subsidised business space for rental with meeting rooms, flexible conferencing and learning space, a community cafe, a Sure Start nursery and a youth space, giving the town of Gorebridge a major boost.

Stephanie Walker, the co-chair of the Gorebridge Community Development Trust, said: “The Gorebridge Beacon is all about giving people a new start and making their lives better. Graphic design is a fiercely competitive career and getting started on your career can be extremely challenging. By working together, we’ve got a really professional product and the two designers have got something really solid and impressive in their portfolios which will hopefully give them a head start in establishing themselves as excellent creative designers.”

The designers, Rhys and Liam, both from Musselburgh, volunteered to help the trust through their course tutor Chris Hughes at Edinburgh College, where they are in the final year of the HND Visual Communication: Graphic Design course.

Rhys, Liam and the trust narrowed four approaches down to one final design, and this brand identity will now be used across the centre’s website, social media presence, signage and promotional material. It reflects the aspirations of the trust for the contribution the new complex will make in terms of improving lives in the community. The centre has to pay its own way in terms of attracting tenants for the centre’s office spaces and ensuring as many people as possible come in to use the centre’s cafe, performance spaces, youth rooms, nursery and meeting rooms.

Chris Hughes said: “This partnership worked really well for everyone – the development trust got access to highly skilled design professionals and our students got the chance to work on live commissions and see their work being put into place in a real-world commercial setting.”

Rhys said: “The client brief was really interesting but challenging. In terms of the people the centre has to attract, because it offers so many different things – from the cafe to conference venues and offices for hire – the audiences are all ages, from school pupils to teenagers right up to older people, from charities to professional businesses.

“The trust were also clear that they wanted something that reflected both the building, its name and its ambitious social purpose.”

Liam said: “Getting a design right involves a lot of discussions while ensuring that the end product has purpose and meaning. It will help the client achieve their purpose such as summarising quickly the point of something to helping people get more familiar with the centre and more likely to use it.”

Stephanie Walker added: “Given all the Trust is doing, making this centre work is and continues to be a challenge for our small volunteer-led trust and that won’t get any easier when we open our doors as we will have difficult targets to reach. That’s where a good brand identity and excellent promotional work will pay off and we’ve been grateful to our supporters for their assistance, in particular, Midlothian Council which has seconded Stephen Fraser to us part-time.”

“Stephen brought Edinburgh College in and we’re really grateful for their help. Rhys and Liam have listened carefully to our views and worked with board members to come up with a logo and other materials that neatly summarises our hopes for what the centre will provide for Gorebridge when it opens.”

The actual building of the £2.2m centre, known as capital development, has been funded by grants provided by the Big Lottery Fund, Social Investment Scotland and Midlothian Council, with the trust having to repay a loan once the centre is up and running, making it vital that the development is embraced by the Gorebridge community and used fully.

The Trust is using time created by delays in the construction of the building to try and maximise success for the building when the sleek, two storey centre opens. If you know anyone who might want to rent some office space, use any of the flexible spaces for regular meetings, or start up new groups using the centre, then please give Stephen Fraser or Paul Renwick a call on 01875 823202 or email gcdt@gorebridge.org.uk.

If you want to keep up with the progress of the building or find out about other Gorebridge Community Development Trust projects, please visit www.gorebridge.org.uk and sign up to the trust newsletter.