“I guess if you can’t tell what their brand is, they can’t do anything that’s off-brand,” stated one student.
Photo by Connor Betterly
In a bid to market itself as a more desirable campus, UC San Diego recently released updated brand guidelines with a new purpose of “Curiosity Must.” While the changes bring a “fresh look” to the campus, some of the more “suggestive yet markedly abstract” elements have left many students scratching their heads.
UCSD’s voice and messaging have been a target point since the recent “campaign like non other,” which was focused on “continuing the nontradition.” But new marketing material takes things a step further. Headlines are encouraged to be “provocative thought starters” in a new all-caps font. Examples include: “1,341,120 ft. HOW FAR WILL YOU GO TO CURE CANCER?” “HOME IS WHERE THE UNKNOWN IS,” and “DOWN HERE ONLY BACTERIA CAN SURVIVE. WE GOTTA MEET THESE BACTERIA.” Meanwhile, new UCSD messaging is to remain “high-level” and “clear,” as evidenced by “obviously unambiguous and not-at-all ominous” refrains such as “The answers are out there, so out we go” and “Some discoveries must be felt.”
But in what is perhaps the biggest change of all, the abstract trident graphic element is to be replaced with a new element known as “grit.” “Students these days don’t have enough grit, so we want to help them out,” said the lead director of the brand redesign, talking about the new graphic elements that had been created. “Grit can be created through both sandpaper and loss. Therefore, we’ll be phasing out the abstract trident that everyone knew and loved, as well as the Geisel Library graphic element that nobody knew about or cared to love.” When a student inquired if UCSD’s rebrand would also “spark some long-needed change on campus around the housing crisis, overadmission, or student parking,” the director brought his finger to the students lips, thanked the student for his “curiosity,” threw a smoke bomb at the ground, and leapt into a waiting UCSD shuttle bus, which quickly peeled away.
“This fake-deep marketing strategy is just an excuse for Khosla to ignore all our demands,” complained another student. “All we wanted was Khosla to be here for us. But now he just says he’s ‘everywhere and nowhere. Where the unknown begins. On the edge of everything that is, or has been, or was ever dreamed of.’ Whatever that means … ”
From the Chancellor’s Complex, Pradeep K. Khosla shared his perspective. “Prospective students need to look deeper and think further,” he said, peering down at his phone to check how much money the campus’ latest fundraising campaign had raised. “All of them. The ones who push. The ones who pull. The ones who can give us money for four years. Curiosity must — guide them to us. Wait, does that even make sense?”
Not all students feel strongly about the brand revamp, however. “Let us all take a step back and remember that every refresh looks ugly at first, but pans out well a short while later,” said one student. “Instagram, Slack, Discord, Dunkin’, Rubio’s, Meta … oh, wait, nevermind! Well, my mind is curious to see how this plays out.” Those interested in the new guidelines can find out more at brand.ucsd.edu.