She(256): Behind the Design of the Largest Women in Blockchain Conference

Written by Elaine Jiyoun Kim, Natalie Yu, and Margaret Valentine

Design team comprised of Elaine Jiyoun Kim, Natalie Yu, Catherine Chang, and Margaret Valentine

She(256) is a movement dedicated to increasing diversity and breaking down barriers to entry in the blockchain space. This past spring, we hosted the largest Women in Blockchain Conference in the nation.

OUR MISSION.

As the spring semester began and the idea of the world’s biggest Women in Blockchain conference was pitched, our tight knit team of 14 students had a mere two months to get everything together. With our She(256) squad comprising busy, full-time UC Berkeley students, we were all on an extreme time crunch. Once we went into work-mode, we realized that branding for this event was crucial; our 4-person design team was not simply designing for a single event, but rather a larger movement.

The mission of our first conference was to celebrate and explore the ground-breaking developments led by women already in the blockchain space while highlighting and connecting the communities within it, striving for diverse inclusion and equality. With this highly encouraging and welcoming new community, we saw the potential of blockchain becoming the leader of inclusivity within the tech industry. Because many find this space rather daunting and intimidating due to knowledge gaps and culture, we wanted to create a comfortable, welcoming space for EVERYONE — regardless of their educational background, gender, or race. The She(256) brand had to reflect our grand mission.

One (of many) design work sessions

OUR PROCESS.

The early stages of our design were met with frustration and stagnation. At first, we thought our best bet was to create a text logo accompanied by a visual illustration — we hoped to create a stand-alone icon that could represent the brand as a whole. After going through endless iterations and dissatisfaction, we realized that in order to make the She256 brand timeless and universal, we needed to create a text-based logo. We started off this change by studying design techniques done by tech giants. We explored branding of the likes of Facebook, Google, and Twitter as well as successful tech events like Facebook’s F8 conference. Reaching the conclusion that the current design trend within the tech industry is simple and bold, we decided to take that one step further to perfectly capture what She(256) stands for.

Rather than the generic cold, rigid, and neon-lights-esque images of technology, we wanted to focus on something more inclusive, something more organic and fluid. We felt as if this more natural and comforting approach to blockchain better reflected our hopes for inclusivity. Our major color was then set to be purple: an intermediate color, a mixture between red and blue, and, therefore the perfect gender neutral color choice. From there, we developed a warm and bright gradient of colors. Flowing from a comfortable purple to a bold pink to a bright orange, the She(256) color scheme evolved into an unapologetically bold and eye catching palette. The variation with both cold and warm tones, both bright and dark shades, created a dimensional, multifaceted feel to align with our mission of inclusivity.

Keeping in line with the same sense of boldness, we chose a typeface called Stellar for its design ability to look slick and clean, even when letter weights were pulled up to bolds and blacks. Using Stellar, the lettering of “She(256), Women in Blockchain” made up our main logo. The emphasis was put on the “She”, for that was the focus of our conference; the name itself was a spin on one of the most widely used cryptographic hash functions, Sha-256. We wanted this typeface to be able to stand boldly amongst varying backgrounds and to be identifiable when standing alone.

The staple image for the conference.

After solidifying our main colors and text, we incorporated the ideas of naturalness through large and smooth curved strokes. Through the organic curvature and slight change in dimension, the purple transcends into both sides of the spectrum, resulting in a dynamic visual that is anything but stagnant. This mountain-esque design that served as our staple piece for the event signifies something deeper — it touches on the uphill battle those who are excluded must face and how they overcome them. In order to create a cohesive brand, mountain-based designs carried onto our t-shirts as well. Once we created this staple image for our conference, everything else fell into place: social media banners, stage banners, name tags, pamphlets and our t-shirt. Another principal piece used for our event was a moon-like illustration. Through this design, we cheekily touched on the crypto saying “To the moon”, but also signified our duty to empower women. The moon is often used as a symbol for femininity and, through creating a staple piece that touches on this, we wanted to pay tribute to the groundbreaking accomplishments of women in the blockchain space.

Another chief design used at She256.
The t-shirt design that was given to all attendees. (Photo: Anthony Mercado)

Amongst the four designers, we all agree that the most challenging part of our design process was translating the mission statement and brand idea to a visual image. Thus, naturally, arriving at our gradient color scheme, our defining organic lines, and our She(256) text was a highly iterative process. With one appointed design director communicating between the designers and the rest of the She(256) team, designers worked as a separate team to produce a variety of iterations. Every couple of days, we would present our multitude of designs to the rest of the team, receive feedback, and move forward. With this process, we successfully arrived at our final designs.

Although we knew how to approach each design item, it was still important to manage our time and plan for the unexpected as we never know if shipments any items would arrive on time. The work leading up to the conference once seemed insurmountable, but with our 4-person design team and 14-person She256 team made up of dedicated individuals, we presented a conference that was perfectly complemented through design. Vibrant colors dominated the venue, creating an exciting, high energy event that made all the work worth it.

Pamphlets. (Photo: Anthony Mercado)
The name tags given out to each attendee. (Photo: Anthony Mercado)

OUR LESSONS LEARNED and OUR FUTURE.

By kicking off She256 with the Women in Blockchain Conference, we hope to expand it into a global movement. Prior to this project, we never comprehended how design is more than just pleasing to the eye; Rather, it is a powerful vehicle for communicating something as large as a social mission. Our dedicated team is currently taking initiatives to continue on our mission to bridging gender gaps of the blockchain space, with emphasis given to design and branding.

A snapshot from the UC Berkeley Women in Blockchain panelists. (Photo: Anthony Mercado)
A shot of our stage the day of the conference.

Event and Product photography done by Anthony Mercado, Just AM Photography.