Cal Poly debuted their reimagined brand after a year-long development effort, redefining “Learn by Doing” with a new logo, extended color palette and brand narrative.

While the iconic “Learn by Doing” tagline remains, University Marketing said the refreshed brand more clearly articulates Cal Poly’s past, present and future, while emphasizing the readiness of graduates to make an impact on the world.

“The rest of the world doesn’t know [‘Learn by Doing’] like we know it,” Vice Provost for Enrollment Development & Chief Marketing Officer James Maraviglia said. “We’re different, so let’s be proud of it.”

A new shield in the logo features elements that pay tribute to the campus’ unique location, with a quill and hammer meant to represent learning and doing.

Cal Poly’s new and old logos. The last shield was introduced in 2015. Cal Poly | Courtesy
Cal Poly’s new and old logos. The last shield was introduced in 2015. Cal Poly | Courtesy

“Learn by Doing means something different to everyone,” University President Jeffrey Armstrong said. “We want to be able to explain it to someone who doesn’t know us.”

Cal Poly partnered with higher education marketing firm SimpsonScarborough for the $340,000 project. The new institutional brand is rooted in research, with 40 focus groups, thousands of surveys and extensive creative testing, according to University Marketing Senior Storyteller Robyn Kontra Tanner.

Video by Sydney Brandt & Patrick Madden

The rebrand was strategically aligned with overhauling Cal Poly’s website and launching major fundraising campaigns in the near future.

“We wanted to give Cal Poly the platform to ground some really big leaps forward,” Tanner said. “And a strong brand is really the foundation for these steps.”

According to Armstrong, there has never been a comprehensive, data-driven rebrand like this in the history of Cal Poly.

“It was really the best of the best that was brought together to form this,” Armstrong said.

Nothing says let’s celebrate like a donut wall, custom screen-printed t-shirts and branded snow cones. Congrats to @CalPoly on the launch of your new brand and identity, opening of a new welcome center, and the upcoming Power of Doing campaign event! We love being your partner! pic.twitter.com/Whvk4FXg2e

— SimpsonScarborough (@SimpScar) May 1, 2019

The project was unveiled at a display on Mott Lawn on Tuesday, April 30. University Marketing handed out shirts, stickers, custom candy with the new logo and branded snow cones to attendees while they previewed the new look. Guests could also test drive the new Cal Poly homepage, although a timeline has not been set for the launch.

Student involvement played a significant role in the changes, according to Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President Jasmin Fashami.

Fashami said a number of students from student government sat in on some of the branding committees to give feedback and share students’ perspectives.

“We all might be studying different things in an academic perspective, but at the end of the day, we’re all here to get an education, and ‘Learn by Doing’ is at the root of every single degree,” Fashami said.

Elements of the brand, such as new banners on Mustang Way, will begin to roll out as the year ends. The official launch is set for Fall 2019.

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