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Redefining Our Brand

Updated Logos Reflect Cal U's Personality

On the clock atop Old Main, the time is always 6:52 p.m. In military time, that’s 18:52 — a reminder of the year our school was founded, and one of many ways that new brand elements tell the Cal U story.

This spring, California University` introduced an updated clock tower logo, Vulcan logo and other symbols. The new designs are part of a campuswide initiative to define the University’s unique character, freshen its messaging and update its brand.

“Our logos are a lens to the University; they serve as a visual image of Cal U,” says Keli Henderson, Cal U’s marketing director. “After more than a decade, it was time to update our logos and brand identity to more accurately represent the University’s personality.”

The refreshed logos are bold and contemporary, but they proudly build on the past. School colors remain unchanged, while a new energy infuses the traditional clock tower and Vulcan images. Every symbol captures the resilient, supportive and inspiring spirit of Cal U.

The University community was invited to take part in the design process, and input from hundreds of students, faculty, staff members and alumni informed the results.

Specialists at Carnegie Dartlet, a leading brand identity firm, conducted extensive research and developed the athletics logos. Building on that work, the creative services team from Cal U’s Office of Communications and Marketing redesigned the University emblems.

Athletic director Dr. Karen Hjerpe and University President Geraldine Jones pause for a photo with mascot Blaze.


Scott Ochander, chief marketing officer and partner at Carnegie Dartlet, answers questions about the rebranding project:

Q. Why is it important for a university to have a recognizable brand?
A. The power of human connections is perhaps the most valuable asset on Earth. In fact, the greatest brands in the world are human ones. By defining and communicating the University’s personality, Cal U can tap into its authentic, and relatable, human connection to stakeholders of all types.

Q. What was your favorite part of creating the new logos?
A. My favorite part of the process was being on campus and engaging in rich discussions with participants in the feedback sessions. It was fascinating to hear the viewpoints that were presented and the variety and depth of interpretations and opinions that were shared. I believe it made for a richer, more well-founded mark.

Q. How was the image of the Vulcan created?
A. The new Vulcan logo was created in close partnership with students, faculty, staff and alumni. At every step of the way, we looked to gain insight and feedback on how the personality of the school would be portrayed through the Vulcan. At the start, the design team ideated a halfdozen expressions of the word “Vulcan”: Is it a male? A female? A fire sprite? Or an object? The team sketched rough ideas of each and brought them to campus. There was lively discussion about the constructs that gave solid direction to the refinements. And so it went. Cal U participants remained engaged and enthusiastic as the Carnegie Dartlet design team refined each stage, each time bringing back concepts for consensus. The final Vulcan emerged – a dynamic, fiery, hammer-wielding Vulcan fully supported by the Cal U community.


Greg Sofranko, Cal U’s director of creative services, took on the challenge of updating the University’s logos and wordmarks.

“Our goal was to reflect Cal U’s personality while retaining ties to our traditions and heritage,” Sofranko says. “The clock tower and the Cal U name are widely recognized – and our alumni are loyal to those symbols. We value those connections.”

Sofranko and Cal U artist/illustrator Philip Haragos ’10 added an extra dash of Cal U history while refreshing familiar images. For example, they built the new clock tower from 16 shapes, “because 1 + 8 + 5 + 2 = 16,” they explain.

The creative team took two versions of the Cal U logo to the Natali Student Center, where hundreds of passerby voted for the one they believe best represents our school. The bold, red name replaces the retired “block” and “Cal script” logos, which are now part of Cal U’s history.

The campus community got its first look at the refreshed logos and wordmarks in February, at a high-energy rally in the Performance Center. The updated emblems are emerging gradually on campus as sports teams order new uniforms, departments restock stationery and business cards, and Vulcans sports fans pick up T-shirts at the Cal U Bookstore.

Mascot Blaze even has a new “tattoo.”

“I’ve watched our logos evolve over the years,” says University President Geraldine M. Jones. “Each one tells us something about the era when they were created.

“These new images reflect the Cal U of today and tomorrow, while honoring our past. They are powerful and easy to recognize. They truly capture the pride and vitality of our University and our Vulcan athletics program.”

— By Christine Kindl, VP for Communications and Marketing

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