Elephant Concludes XD Academy 2023 with over 100 students participating in the revamped programme

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May 23, 2023, New York, NY- Elephant, a leading creative agency, recently concluded XD Academy 2023, a free educational program designed for those associated with the 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP). 

First launched in 2020, Elephant’s experiential design initiative has played a role in helping transform the talent landscape in the advertising industry, opening up new opportunities and avenues for budding creatives that identify as Asian/Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latinx, Black/African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Multiracial or Multiethnic (e.g. Hispanic and Black).

For 2023, the XD Academy introduced a new open format where an unlimited number of MAIP students could participate in talks and workshops and were able to choose what topics they really wanted to dive into across the whole product design spectrum. The Elephant team’s efforts focussed on developing the program structure and creating a bold visual identity that would seamlessly integrate XD Academy into Elephant’s DNA. 

Visual asset by Xiaodie Huang

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As a key member of the Elephant design team for XD Academy, Xiaodie Huang’s exceptional talents were a natural fit to help redefine this important initiative. One of Huang’s standout contributions was her collaboration with Arthur de Almeida in the development of the new branding.

This was not a simple task of aesthetic creation, but a sophisticated process of conceptualizing and crafting a visual symbol that would encapsulate the essence of the XD Academy. Huang’s unique touch was evident in the final system, which is both visually compelling and deeply connected to the concept of learning and development. She developed a myriad of assets to boost the Academy’s presence across various platforms, thereby playing a pivotal role in expanding the XD Academy’s reach and impact. Huang also co-hosted one of the XD Academy sessions, a visual design workshop, where she and Ryan McSwain inspired the MAIP students and gave them insights into the topic of  “expression through design”. The feedback from this session was glowing, with one student saying, “I am very inspired by this activity, and I am going to use the template to create more on my own.”

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One of the primary challenges faced by the team was blending the program with Elephant’s existing brand image. The team thoroughly examined the current brand identity and visual elements while remaining open to alternative options. Huang played an essential role in striking the right balance between maintaining brand consistency and encouraging innovation. As part of the effort to extend the academy’s dynamism beyond the current Elephant brand identity, XD Academy aims to develop a visual identity that embodies its creative and inspiring spirit. With Huang’s invaluable input, the team is confident in its ability to achieve this goal and establish a robust, cohesive identity for the academy. The website design received recognition and was granted Honorable Mention in Awwwards. 

Visual asset by Xiaodie Huang

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We really wanted to do something that was designed to sort of be a taster and give you some hands-on skills,” said Chris May, chief creative officer, Elephant.

To further illustrate the visual design concept for XD Academy, the line serves as the original and most fundamental design element, representing each individual’s unique design journey. Everyone’s path into the design industry is distinct, and as such, the line will be updated with a fresh and exclusive look for each program launch. This new identity informs the updated appearance of the program, reflecting our ongoing commitment to strengthening and expanding this valuable partnership.

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