Cal Poly Opens New Welcome Center

The space is the first on campus to showcase the university’s updated branding

Cal Poly President Armstrong and Cal Poly administrators, staff and San Luis Obispo city and county leaders participate in a ribbon cutting in front of the new Welcome Center.
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly visitors have a new first stop when they arrive on campus: the university’s Welcome Center. 

Cal Poly President Jefferey D. Armstrong and San Luis Obispo’s civic leaders cut the ribbon to officially open the new space in the yakʔitʸutʸu housing community on Grand Avenue. San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Debbie Arnold presented Cal Poly with a special proclamation commemorating the event.

The 3,200-square-foot space serves as a one-stop shop for newcomers taking tours or finding events at Cal Poly. The center includes a 142-seat auditorium that will be used for presentations.

“We consider this a new ‘front door’ for our campus,” Armstrong said. “This space aims to be beautiful, inviting and inclusive, helping visitors navigate our campus while getting to know the Learn by Doing philosophy that empowers students to succeed.”

More than 55,000 visitors came to campus in 2018, including prospective students and their families getting to know San Luis Obispo for the first time. In 2014, a university report estimated the local economic impact of visitors to campus exceeded $21 million annually.

The Welcome Center is the first space on campus to feature the university’s new logo and updated branding now debuting after a year-long development effort. Cal Poly partnered with higher education marketing firm SimpsonScarborough, which has extensive experience shaping the brands of the nation’s leading universities.

The refreshed brand aims to help Cal Poly keep pace with competing institutions and ensure that the university can continue to live out its mission to serve the state of California with the best education possible.

The brand strategy and creative development process was rooted in extensive market research in the form of focus groups, in-depth interviews, quantitative surveys and creative testing. Cal Poly sought input from individuals across its audiences, including prospective students, current students, staff, faculty, parents and supporters of students, alumni, industry partners, board members and non-alumni donors.

In total, Cal Poly collected thousands of quantitative survey responses in market research and creative testing, including responses from current students. The research also gathered data from dozens of focus groups, in-depth interviews, workshops and two quarters of Learn by Doing projects with Cal Poly marketing classes.

Cal Poly calls its refreshed approach “Learn by Doing. Ready Day One.” The brand is not necessarily new, but it more clearly articulates Cal Poly’s philosophy of Learn by Doing and connects the university’s past, present and future.

The updated wordmark is bolder while preserving specific details from previous logo iterations, according to the University Marketing office. A new shield graphic in the logo features symbols that nod to the campus’s location and heritage. The brand also features expanded color and typography palettes. Beyond the visual style, the brand’s narrative leverages the readiness of Cal Poly graduates to make an impact on California and beyond. 

The brand serves as the foundation for other university campaigns and outreach efforts in the future. The campus community will see the brand applied to marketing materials and websites beginning this fall.

Photo of the interior of the new Welcome Center.

April 30, 2019

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