All In at Penn State

Rowland is All In

Sydney Katona | Doing, Thinking | December 6, 2016

Universities across the country are working to create more diverse and inclusive campuses ­– and so is Penn State. We were thrilled when the Office of Strategic Communications approached us about developing the brand for “All In”, the university’s diversity and inclusion initiative, but knew we faced some challenges. Before we could begin crafting visuals, we had to examine the initiative as a whole, working with Penn State communicators to shape an approach that would attract and motivate students.

A deadline for the initiative kickoff loomed, and determining what the initiative was – and what it wasn’t – was a top priority.

Our work began by digging into the details. We worked with the client to answer a series of important questions – like “What would we call the initiative? Should the university’s rallying cry “We are” play a role in the initiative? In the end, what are we trying to say?” After the meeting, we crafted a guiding document that addressed these questions and more. (Little did we know – this document would play a major role in campaign success, both at Rowland and at Penn State.)

We left the meeting knowing that students and student organizations would be our key audience. The All In brand needed to be something students could run with in their own spaces, like on social media. It needed to look worthy of its important mission, but not stiff or contrived. Students needed to connect with the brand. It couldn’t feel like another missive from Old Main.

Two creative concepts floated to the top. One was fun, but felt corporate. Another was more organic and offered more creative opportunity– but was risky. We presented these concepts in a variety of executions; from the jumbotron at Pegula Ice Arena to a wrapped CATA bus, the All In mark was there. We used these examples of the brand in its intended environment to help determine which look would get the job done.

Ultimately, Penn State went with the organic, “risky” idea. Featuring real handwriting, this brand mark allowed for endless adaptations. We created a suite of logos in various languages, gradients, and patterns – so if computer science students wanted a computer chip “All In” logo, they had it. Collateral came next, intended to drive engagement and attendance at the All In kickoff event, where an interactive video would be projected on Old Main. We developed email graphics, posters, and social media images while Penn State created buttons and shirts and organized a flash-mob in the student union – all in a race toward our deadline.

The kickoff of the All In initiative was electrifying. Over a thousand students, faculty, staff and community members gathered on Old Main lawn and cheered for a more diverse and inclusive Penn State. We were proud to play a small part in President Barron’s mission to make the university better for everyone, no matter their differences.

See more over at our Portfolio.

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