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160over90 - UC San Diego Brand Redesign

Entered in Brand Redesign


UC San Diego is a world-class public research institution in La Jolla, California driven by a distinct, collective passion for discovery. The university has long pushed the boundaries of interdisciplinary education, earning well-deserved recognition among peers and industry, and driving groundbreaking impact within San Diego and beyond. However, UC San Diego have struggled to communicate their impact in a way that resonates with keys audiences and establishes UC San Diego as top of mind among the best universities in the world.  


In 2022, we set forth on a mission to refresh the brand in a way that would distinguish the institution and grow local, national, and global mindshare. We sought to develop a brand platform that would allow us to highlight the institution and its evolution, share the stories of the impactful individuals that define it, and shine a light on UC San Diego’s impressive yet accessible excellence.  


After an immersive discovery, we aligned on a singular brand purpose; Curiosity Must. Establishing a platform showcasing the vibrancy that radiates through their people, their terrain and their pursuit. Thinking further. Putting yourself out there—way out there.  


UC San Diego’s integrated, multi-channel communications plan hinged on the authenticity of the message and buy-in from internal stakeholders, as well as the creativity, clarity and overall stopping power of the creative. To ensure authenticity, we led an extensive discovery with dozens of people from the UC San Diego community representing over 15 units, including leadership, EDI, Alumni, Students, Athletics, and more. Through this process, we learned that the curiosity that grounded UC San Diego’s prior positioning remained core to their identity, but the sense of purpose and inclusivity was missing. With the refinement of their brand positioning to “Curiosity Must”, we better reflected the community and the spirit that drives UC San Diego.  

Upon completion of development, 160over90 and UC San Diego Marketing presented the strategy and brand concept to hundreds of stakeholders across 30+ presentations to ensure the community understood the foundation. The socialization and explanation of foundational elements helped the campus appreciate the evolution and buy in. For example, when grounded in the need to introduce more warmth to the color palette so the work would better connect with the diverse communities UC San Diego serves, the potentially polarizing addition of a magenta accent color was welcomed and adopted quickly.  


Tactically, UC San Diego invested significant resources in tools that would make brand adoption easy and paired the launch with the introduction of UC San Diego Canva, an enterprise solution that makes professional design accessible to teams with little resources. The authenticity of the execution, combined with the vibrant colors and design solutions led to quick adoption and application of the brand across the university.  


The updated creative was introduced to the world in early 2023. The rollout included a national media campaign, updated campus environmental signage, trolley and bus wraps, a full toolkit of templates and tools for internal stakeholders, a refreshed website, and a new anthem video showcasing the incredible stories of students and faculty at the university.  


Ultimately, our goals were to update and evolve a unified brand and meaningfully connect with UC San Diego’s audience and grow mindshare.  


Evolve Unified Brand 

The brand redesign was successfully adopted by stakeholders across the institution including Admissions, Advancement, schools and units, and beyond. 325 Canva licenses, 100% of the schools’ inventory, are being utilized and over 4,912 designs have been published to date.  


Connect with Audience/ Grow Mindshare 

The UC San Diego Anthem Video – “Chase Your Curiosity Forward” garnered significant social media engagement. The video post beat the $.70 CPC Benchmark by $.32 and garnered 1.3 million impressions.  


Organic comments from UC San Diego’s comprehensive paid media campaign reflected a strong resonance with the audience. A Media Attribution study found a +9.2% lift in brand favorability, +8.1% lift in consideration and +.7% lift in advocacy.  


In summary, the brand refresh was seen as an overwhelming success for UC San Diego.  


Video for 160over90 - UC San Diego Brand Redesign

Entrant Company / Organization Name

160over90, UC San Diego


Entry Credits