Changes to UCSD Branding Underway

UCSD’s department of university communications and public affairs has begun a soft launch to re-brand and market the university. Visible changes include a new logo, color scheme, motto and most notably a name transition from “UCSD” to “UC San Diego.”

“The strategy we used was to leverage the momentum generated during the 50th Anniversary — including goodwill, exposure and outreach — with messaging that will resonate with all audiences, develop a well-defined branding and marketing strategy rooted in stakeholder research that is still relevant and useful, isolate the institutional factors that differentiate UC San Diego from other campuses, and create a strategy for competitive positioning,” Executive Director of University Communications and Public Affairs Jeffrey P. Gattas said in an email.

Based on market research done in 2007, the re-branding efforts are meant to make the university stand out from other UCs with similar acronyms such as UCSB and local universities such as USD and SDSU.

“With no new funding and using existing staff resources, University Communications and Public Affairs revisited the market research the campus conducted in 2007,” Gattas said.
Gattas emphasized that university factions are not forced to adopt the changes but are encouraged to take this push for re-branding as an opportunity to achieve the goals of individual university factions.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the School of Medicine and media relations are a few factions of the university that have already agreed to adopt the re-branding methods.

“Since we have no new resources, we have been meeting with, and will continue to meet with, various campus constituencies over the next year encouraging them to embrace the brand and use the messaging developed from sound research to help meet their individual goals,” Gattas said.  “It is our belief that this will be more of an organic change rather than something sudden and instant.”

Although the market research was done four years prior, Gattas still feels the findings are relevant. Gattas says over 3,600 prospective students, faculty, current students, staff, alumni and other university constituents were consulted via qualitative and quantitative methodologies with half of those surveyed made up solely of current and prospective students.

“In addition we consulted with stakeholders from faculty, staff, students and other campus constituents about the research data and its outcomes.  We concluded that after a fresh look the data was still very relevant today,” he said.

The re-branding was launched this academic year since last year was UCSD’s 50th anniversary.

“We needed to replace the energy and excitement created by this milestone anniversary with a fresh approach to branding and marketing going forward into our next 50 years,” Gattas said.

The new logo — which is based on the UCSD Medical Center’s current logo — comes in three set color schemes. The name change has already been seen in the revamped “This Week at UC San Diego,” a weekly e-newsletter sent by the Department of University Communications and Public Affairs to university constituents.  

“As part of this fresh look, we felt it was time to update the logo of the university,” Gattas said.  “Again based on market trends and best practices a new, more refined look was developed to incorporate the strength of the university name — UC San Diego — and complement the branding used by the health system to integrate the full potential of our campus.”

Additionally the university’s motto has changed from “Local Impact, National Influence, Global Reach” to “Learn it. Live it.”

“This theme is not part of the logo but rather allows campus constituencies to use it in communicating what the research tells us in uniquely UC San Diego,” Gattas said. “That our students and faculty believe innovation is central to who we are and what we do. Here, you learn that knowledge isn’t just acquired in the classroom — life is your laboratory.”

New advertisements that use the “Learn it. Live it.” motto will also capitalize on the San Diegan lifestyle and how that plays into UCSD’s appeal to prospective students. Examples of advertisements incorporate both the academic and southern Californian aspects of the UCSD lifestyle.

According to Gattas, students should begin to notice visible branding and marketing changes on campus within the next year or so.

“We believe students, faculty and staff will start to see these changes on various types of collateral materials, news articles, web pages, etc. over the next year or so as various departments, organizations or divisions begin to adopt the changes,” he said.