An unexpectedly controversial new logo welcomed members of the Cal Poly Pomona community to a new term.
For more than one year, eight committees selected through the Academic Senate partnered with the branding agency Selbert Perkins and took charge of an approximate $150,000 branding initiative for the university.
University administration expressed that a branding initiative benefits the university, but many have been vocal about their disagreement.
“You can tell that there’s a problem with [the logo] right away because it takes somebody to explain it to you,” Professor Dorothy Wills of the anthropology department said.
Regardless of the functionality of the logo, some students find it ill-fitting for the university.
“I kind of hate the new logo because I don’t think the new logo was necessary and it’s almost like it it’s taking away the history of Cal Poly,” said fourth year hospitality management student Madeline Sin.
Assistant vice president of strategic communication and marketing, Tim Lynch said he selected student representatives through Associated Students Incorporated (ASI) and ASI’s former president Uriah Sanders. Vice President Gabriel Smith also took part in the branding initiative, as noted on the university’s strategic plan committees webpage.
“This was not done in isolation as far as who made the decisions, nor was this simply an initiative out of the blue,” said Lynch. “It very much was tied to the academic master plan and the strategic plan.”
Competition with nearby schools in the area may be the primary driving force behind the branding initiative, Wills said.
“I don’t think we need to market ourselves very hard, we don’t have any trouble getting students to apply…that’s why some of the majors are impacted,” Wills said.
As administrators make changes to the university’s image, some members of the campus community seem to want things to go back to the way they were.
A petition titled “Bring back the old Cal Poly Pomona logo” on Change.org has collected more than 3,000 signatures.
On social media, students expressed disagreement in a sardonic manner.
The new tagline “I am ready,” has been mocked by students as sounding similar to the one said by SpongeBob SquarePants, of the animated television series, who often shouts “I’m ready!”
Before designing the logo, the branding agency collected data to reveal perceptions about the university. The agency’s findings influenced the design of the logo.
As the university expects many positive changes to come, Lynch said the logo is intended to reflect those changes.
Adopting a new logo is not a recent idea and was anticipated since 2010, Lynch said.
The school’s old logo highlights the Classroom, Laboratory and Administration (CLA) building. However, in the late 1990s university administration discovered the building was built on a fault line and a new building would need to replace it.
A logo designing competition among graphic design students at CPP began in 2012, but a new logo was not adopted, Lynch said.
Lynch said that rather than resembling something physical, the new logo is inspired by ideas.
Much of the branding initiative connects the university’s master plan and strategic plan to the logo. The new master plan is meant to move the university forward, hence the inspiration behind the green and gold arrow pointing right in the new logo, Lynch said.
An octagon in multiple shades of blue, along with the familiar green and gold replaced the former logo.
Shades of blue appear on the new logo in order to distinguish CPP from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Green and gold remain the university’s sports team colors, despite the addition of blue in the logo, Lynch said.
As described in the university’s website, the less controversial university seal contains Antez, one of William Kellogg’s favorite horses, with the old stables and the San Gabriel Mountains in the background.
In comparison to the former, the new logo is chock full of symbolism.
One can find the explanation of what it represents in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the university website’s brand page.
The university’s eight colleges and eight elements of a polytechnic education contributed to the octagonal shape of the logo: application of knowledge; creativity, discovery and innovation; critical thinking and problem solving; diverse and multidisciplinary perspectives; integration of technology; collaborative learning; community and global engagement; and professional and career readiness.
Despite the petition and criticism, the university remains firm on the adoption of the new logo.
“Change is hard,” Lynch said. “All of us get used to certain patterns, to certain things in our life that are just always there, and then change happens.”
In response to complaints and branding miscommunication, CPP’s Facebook page states the university’s motto “Learn by Doing” is here to stay and has not been replaced.
Lynch said “I am ready” is merely a tagline for university marketing.
Comments or concerns regarding the branding initiative can be expressed to the university’s Department of Strategic Communications.
Show Comments (8)