When you see an apple icon with a bite taken out, you know it’s from the tech company Apple. When you see a swooshed checkmark or hear “Just Do It,” you think Nike. When you see red with golden arches, you’ll recognize McDonalds. It’s all thanks to branding.
That’s where Paula Tran, senior brand manager and designer, helps Texas Wesleyan be recognized in our community. From designing a flyer in our blue and gold colors to helping check that logos aren’t distorted or covered up, Paula works hard to keep our brand in standards that helps build up recognition. Get to know a little about her!
What made you get into graphic design?
I didn't know what I was going to do in high school. There was nothing specific that I wanted to do. My parents told me to be a doctor, so I tried to look at different things, like dentistry, optometry, physical therapy. But they were all just things I wasn’t in to.
And then as a senior in high school, I found an elective that was called advertising graphic design and thought it looked cool. I got into it, and apparently, I was really decent at it. My teacher said I was pretty good. I started looking for colleges that had graphic design as an option. At the time, the only one that I found closest to home was Sam Houston. I studied graphic design, and the more I studied it, the more I enjoyed it. And I guess I had a knack for it.
After that, it was just trying to find a job — it was harder than I thought. It was really competitive at the time when I started.
What made you want to get a job at Texas Wesleyan?
I got into the t-shirt business. So, I was doing screen printing of designing shirts. And then after that, I found a job at Tarrant County College. That was probably the first time I ever enjoyed what I was doing. I was one of the designers that worked on the South Campus. I would do designs for South Campus, like flyers. I really enjoyed it. I loved the atmosphere of being around students doing all kinds of cool stuff like events. I was there for about a year or so before I got transferred to the Trinity River Campus, which is in downtown Fort Worth. It's a really nice campus but it was a far drive.
My old job had offered me money to come back as a lead designer, so I left TCC for that. I ended up being able to do marketing designs, and really was able to grow in my career.
But I was looking for another opportunity to work with a university or hospital — somewhere that was giving back to people or helping people, where what I was doing actually meant something, not just designing random things. I found this job at TXWES randomly and got an email the next day asking to come for an interview.
How has Texas Wesleyan’s brand changed since you started?
When I got in, I took the old brand designs and made them more modern and minimal. A lot of the older designs had gradients and slashing, which I took out.
How has design changed since you graduated college, especially now having to design for Gen Z?
It’s harder. Gen Z likes slightly like new things, but they like the old things, especially when it’s more organic. So how do you make the design more organic to where it doesn't feel like it's advertising to you? Do I continue to use photos? Or do we do more genuine photos that goes with an illustration?
Finding ways to make the designs for Gen Z a little bit more fun. In a way, it's like an artistic freedom where nobody's using stock photos. It’s more artsy. I think that's a big difference is nothing looks static, there are so many ways of creating something nowadays.
What’s the most fun project you’ve worked on at Texas Wesleyan?
Designing the Willie the Ram graphic has been fun. Being able to work with a professional illustrator and having it come to life. It started out as a small project, but then just got bigger and bigger. And I thought, if we are going to have this graphic everywhere, I want it to look professional — and I’m not an illustrator. But it was really fun working with the illustrator.
I also really like working with our videographer to help do graphics and animation for our videos. It’s just fun to collaborate on projects together.
What's one of the most fun designs you’ve done?
I did a design contest once for the Olympics. It was a youth winter Olympics and people can submit designs for the medals. If your design gets chosen, you get a set of the medals — gold, silver, bronze — and they fly you out to where it’s being held, like South Korea. I didn’t win, but I’m going to keep competing.
What are some fun things about your heritage?
I have a blend of Asian cultures in my family. I’m Filipino and my husband is Chinese and Vietnamese. We are teaching our two sons the different languages and our parents will speak to them in their native languages. I’m not fully bilingual, but I know certain words and phrases.
We also enjoy cooking. We have different types of foods, like Vietnamese food, Filipino food, Chinese food — any type of Asian type food. We always introduce it to our boys, so they eat a lot of noodles and rice. Food is a big thing.
And at our wedding, we had a typical wedding, but included a tea ceremony that is traditional in Chinese culture.
Did you know Paula has set up ways for you to download logos and marketing materials you may need? Check out our resources and brand guides.