This project was a project to rebrand CSU Sacramento, also know as Sacramento State University. This hypothetical premise was that Sacramento State had been shut down for 10 years due to lack of funding, and was looking to reopen its campus. The university board was looking to revive community interest in Sacramento State by retaining its name and mascot, but taking the university mission and visual identity in a new direction.
Through the research of the previous brand of Sacramento State, through University surveys, people in the community had good will towards the university and the brand. However, they had a hard time pinpointing what the university was known for, or stood for. This was boiled down to a very broad and generic brand message that didn’t speak towards a specific goal. Also in the past brand, Sacramento State tended to rely very heavily on iconography and references to the rich history as the capitol of California and being the city of trees, rather than being future focused.
The competitive audit of competing schools in the region included UC Davis, CSU San Jose, CSU Chico, and American River Community College. Through analyzing these schools, I found that their marketing messaging was focused on advancing the individual. They also tended towards geometric, angular visual elements, while pairing those with a serif typeface that has become a traditional norm in educational branding. Lastly, these universities were mainly champions of STEM programs.
I noticed from the internal audit of Sacramento State and the competitive audit of colleges in the area that Sacramento State had a unique opportunity to distinguish itself from the competition. In order to capitalize on this opportunity, I decided it would be best for Sacramento State to become a champion of the arts and focus on creating a culture of collaboration. The visual identity would be organic in shape, bright and bold in color, and focused on creativity, community, and collaboration.
The mark represents two brush strokes working together to form a S, while creating another S within the negative space of the two strokes. Each brush stroke represents an individual and student. The strokes are similar in shape and analogous colors, showing they are similar. However, they are headed in different directions and clearly different colors, showing their individualism. They come together to create something bigger than what they could on themselves, showing the power of collaboration. The sans-serif type selection of Univers Condensed Bold is used to contrast the organic mark and provide a solid foundation for creativity of the individuals to shine through. The sans-serif typeface Myriad Pro was selected as a readable text font that also breaks away from the traditional university standard of using a serif typeface.
The primary colors are a green, which stands for growth and teal that stands for creativity. The secondary colors are a yellow, which stands for inspiration, orange, which stands for ingenuity, and red-orange, which stands for aspirational. These secondary colors were chosen to brighten up the color palette and remaining analogous among the palette.
As an example of how the brand language could be expanded throughout the university, the brand was applied to the university’s automotive wayfinding and signage. The secondary orange color was paired with the teal in order to serve as a complimentary contrast in color, and to have the important information in orange stand out. The signage to indicate student and faculty parking utilized the primary color scheme, which works well to differentiate the two at a glance, while not putting them at odds with one another.