Bringing a Presidential Initiative to Life with Strategic Design

Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are some of the most important projects at universities today. Penn State’s All In initiative needed killer creative support to stand out and send the right message. And, it needed strategic design work, not just creating assets but creating a lasting, resonant mark that could be used across the university.

Finally, of course, All In needed support in planning how to speak about the initiative, how to control use of the mark, and how to negotiate the hurdles that come with such a big, important project. This is why we love what we do.

Project Goals

1

Finalize name and plan campaign language

From the beginning, Penn State wanted help defining how to talk about the initiative. How should it be referred to in press releases, or casually? And what were the best ways to rally students behind the initiative?

2

Create a perfectly balanced visual identity

The visuals for this initiative were the message. They had to be simple, welcoming and inclusive, and relatable, while still reflecting the cultural and institutional significance of the effort.

3

Make it work in real-life applications

How would the identity be used by different groups on campus? Inclusion is the point of the initiative, so we had to make an identity that would let lots of folks customize and play with what we’d done. Oh, and it had to work on everything from buttons to buildings.

15.6%


College campuses are growing ever more diverse. A recent study found that students of color made up only 29.6% of undergraduate students in 1996, but that number rose to 45.2% by 2016. This 15.6% gain is only increasing as time goes on and we’re proud to have been a part of this initiative that continues to shape university culture.

Discovery

Penn State’s central communications group had a sense of how they might want this initiative to play out, but they needed help. How could they make it resonate with students and other stakeholders? How should they talk about it in public contexts? What levels of warmth versus formality, joy versus seriousness, and playfulness versus gravitas were appropriate? Our initial discovery process helped define all of these parameters through qualitative research and insights into the university community. We also planned out the criteria for a successful design approach—crucial when we moved on to implementing the identity.

Design

This project was all about the design. It needed to be sharable and inclusive—groups needed to be able to use the elements and repurpose them. It needed to be relatable, but also with a level of dignity appropriate to the issue (nothing jokey or trite). The mark we landed on could be used in many ways, most notably to frame the phrase “All In” (in English and many other languages!) and to frame photos. The variety of uses, languages, and visual approaches—all unified with the simple parenthesis element—artistically embodied the initiative’s goals.

Awards and Recognition

2017 CASE Award

Category: Diversity and Talent Management, Internal Constituencies

Award: Grand Gold, Circle of Excellence

In the spring of 2016, a group of Penn State students looked to engage differently. They created a video of Penn Staters speaking honestly about their personal experiences with diversity. From there, All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion or All In was born. All In is a grassroots initiative focused on the University’s core commitment to respectfully listen to different perspectives; to peacefully practice civil discourse; and to accept, support, and value one another, regardless of our differences. All In is a partnership with Penn State students, our President, the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity, Penn State Outreach and Online Education, Student Affairs, and WPSU.

2017 CP2 Bracket Award

Category: Brand Identity

2017 CP2 Bracket Award

Category:Illustration

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