UBC Student Leadership Conference

The UBC Student Leadership Conference (SLC) is a one-day event that happens every January at the University of British Columbia. It is Canada's largest student-led conference and provides workshops, speakers and sessions to over 1200 students. 

For the 2015 conference, I was part of the Communications & Promotions portfolio in the role of Co-Chair. This portfolio is responsible for:

  • Develop the conference theme and brand
  • Communicate, promote, execute the look and feel
  • Address the people, product, price and place through design



What is a theme?

The conference theme is the BIG idea behind the conference. It is expressed in a variety of ways, but remains consistent across all SLC portfolios, resonating with all aspects of the conference to help frame the message we want to be sending to our audience. 

Functions of a theme:

1.  To address the leadership need of the campus community

2.  Keep the conference current

3.  Inform conference content

Ex. speakers & presenters

Ex. core programming & workshop

Some previous themes:


The 2015 Theme

The previous two years, we've gone with large, inspirational ideas. Both 'Unwritten' (2013) and 'Be Infinite' (2014) are about dreaming big and not being afraid of it. We wanted to move away from that, and provide something fresh, something new, something concrete.

More action-oriented and tangible. 

So we decided to change our approach and the process of theme-development altogether. Here's how we did it:

1. Moodboard exercise

2. Creative half day: draw connections and distill moodboard

3. Theme pitch to conference committee

4. Evaluation and feedback

Here it is:

The stylized typography, bold colours of orange and teal, and the pegboard texture were used in combination to encompass our core values. No matter where you are in your journey, there is always a next step to take. The philosophy of the pegboard nicely complemented our ideas behind the design - that you can go forward, backwards, up, or down and create your own leadership journey. It is simple, universal and powerful.  

The 2015 design was not only a static logo but a fully comprehensive brand identity. It has consistent elements like the wordmark and the colours but it is also flexible and adaptable. 

Some brand applications included hoodies, banners, Facebook cover photos, nametags.

Each year, the conference recognizes a number of students with the Faces of Today award to showcase leaders around campus and their impact. To promote registration for the SLC, we released the names of two of these students each week. We achieved hype and excitement around the award winners by creating short 'moving posters' to capture passersby and to standout from other advertisements on campus. Below is a static poster for social media and a moving one for digital media across the university:


From moving digital signage to posters and stickers, the Next Step theme successfully resonated with our audiences and gave us a sold-out conference. This brand identity was eye-catching, fun, customizable, and recognizable. 

Themed post-it notes were given to our delegates to capture their ideas throughout the conference but also to remind them to ask, 'What is my next step?' One of the attendees shared her post-it note via social media:

The success of the 2015 conference was in part a result of a great theme and brand identity, but also the hard work and dedication of the planning team. It took countless doodles, feedback conversations and meetings to perfect the communications and promotions of the conference but without a doubt, we had fun at every step. 

The fantastic 2015 Communications & Promotions team consisted of Glenn Mendonsa, Ryan Hirakida, Vickram Sidhu, Morrell Andrews, Ashley Luk and myself with the guidance of Houston White.