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Campus Collaboration Leads to New SJSU Identity System

Chang Kim and students

Professor Chang Kim and his students collaborated with Marketing and Communications to create SJSU’s new identity system. (Rachel Poage Photo)

This month, a new San Jose State identity system will replace the current university logo. But wasn’t the logo just updated?

This time is different. Really. For the first time in SJSU’s history, the university is rolling out a brand platform that is bringing the campus community together—and the new visual identity system is just one part of the platform.

We are determined to develop SJSU’s brand identity efficiently, authentically and collaboratively,” said Barry Shiller, associate vice president for marketing and communications, who is leading the university’s branding effort.

To reimagine the university’s identity system, SJSU’s Office of Marketing and Communications sponsored a project with the Department of Graphic Design. Associate Professor Chang Kim, a team of students and other faculty members worked together to design the set of identity marks and graphic elements that capture both the tradition and spirit of the university. In addition, the new visual identity system includes a typeface that Kim created just for San Jose State.

For Spartans, by Spartans

The collaboration for SJSU’s new identity system was the brainchild of University Art Director Michelle Frey, the design lead for the Marketing and Communications team. She believes in relying on campus talent for creative projects whenever possible—which fulfills SJSU’s promise to provide hands-on experience and exposure for students.

San Jose State has an incredible graphic design program,” Frey said. “And the best way to present an authentic SJSU brand is to create it within the university.”

Among the changes to expect: a new brand platform that focuses on San Jose State’s people and a visual identity system that relies on what makes the university unique. Hint: San Jose State is the only institution with the initials “SJSU.”

Listening to campus input

“We’ve been very intentional about updating colleges and other campus units, including Associated Students and our Alumni Association board, seeking and listening to campus input,” said Shiller.

We’ve probably done more than 40 presentations, and the work reflects what we’ve heard.”

In use since 2008, the “bricks,” as people call the current logo, has been likened to a microchip or a soccer ball. The new identity system, however, is more meaningful, especially since Spartans created it. “It’s less institutional and more personal,” explained Shiller. “As one student aptly said, ‘You can’t hug a brick.’”

The first set of guides and resources is now available on the Marketing and Communications website.

Sign up to receive email updates and to participate in the development of the brand effort.