Brand Defined

What is a Brand?

In a marketing context, a brand is how people perceive your product, service or organization. It’s what people think of you. How they feel about you. And why they support you.

Vital, impactful brands are built on truth and continuity. They are what they say they are. And they are united in how they say it, so you never confuse them with competing brands. That’s why so much emphasis is put on conformity of brand language and look, and why all brands have guidelines like this one.

The UCLA Brand

UCLA has many different audiences: academics, students, parents, alumni, public servants and casual observers, people in Los Angeles, in California, and around the world. Our brand is what these audiences think, feel and respond to when they see or hear the name UCLA.

As a public research university in a global city, UCLA is known around the world for its importance and impact across many different fields of learning. As UCLA staff, faculty and students, we have the opportunity and responsibility to shape perceptions of UCLA by the consistency and clarity of our communications.

Mission and Key Message

The UCLA brand is rooted in our core mission as a public research university: education, research, and public service. To state the mission more formally: “UCLA’s primary purpose as a public research university is the creation, dissemination, preservation and application of knowledge for the betterment of our global society.”

Distilled into a single sentence, the UCLA brand’s key message is this: “UCLA is an engine of opportunity and progress, propelling action and change to make a better world.”

Notice that the message is active: “an engine... propelling action and change.” Our marketing and communications should connect our discoveries, achievements and aspirations to their impact, both locally and globally. This key message is what sets us apart from other universities and organizations.

UCLA Strategic Communications can work with major academic and administrative units to fine-tune their identity so it’s consistent with the UCLA brand, but tailored to the unique strengths and challenges of the unit.

Contact UCLA Strategic Communications

A Word from Chancellor Block

“As we prepare to celebrate our centennial, it is vital that we speak with one voice about UCLA’s importance to society, dedication to academic excellence, and unwavering commitment to service. A unified UCLA brand is critical to increase the quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of our communications efforts, celebrate our strengths and amplify our impact. Unity of message isn’t conformity; it’s the wellspring from which we all draw the distinctions that make UCLA special. Please use these brand guidelines in all of your communications. Because together, we are stronger than we are apart. And together, we will reach even greater heights in the next 100 years.” — Chancellor Gene Block

Portrait of Chancellor Gene Block

Brand Pillars

Like the key message, the brand pillars capture aspects of UCLA that make us unique among universities. These characteristics are a way to give more structure to our communications. When you begin a project, always consider which brand pillars your content will evoke and how they will resonate with your audience.

Limitless opportunity:
If you can dream it, you can do it here.
Versatile influence:
UCLA attracts extraordinary minds—faculty and students — who create innovation in every area of human endeavor.
Celebrated culture:
UCLA is a symbiotic laboratory where new ideas are born in technology, health science, arts, business, law and countless other areas. Like the global city of Los Angeles, UCLA is a place of invention and re-invention.
Inspired excellence:
UCLA excels at nearly everything it does. Good enough is never good enough here.
Pioneering spirit:
Celebrating our 100th birthday in 2019, UCLA is still young compared to other top-tier universities. We are energized by an effervescent spirit of entrepreneurship and inspired by a deep sense of purpose.

Personality Traits

Brands, like people, have personalities. These UCLA brand personality traits should resonate through our communications efforts.

Cultured:
We are a worldly and sophisticated lot; we are not content to stay in our own backyard.
Balanced:
Our constant goal is to be fair, equitable and impartial.
Vibrant:
The UCLA campus is a vigorous and energetic community, and we are its active members.
Perseverant:
We are steadfast when pursuing our goals, despite difficulties or obstacles.
Visionary:
Our achievements — in all facets of life — are proof of our farsightedness.
Catalytic:
We are agents of change.

Our messages may emphasize different traits depending on audience and content. A recruiting piece aimed at high school students will have a different tone than an annual report to a donor group. Think in terms of an audio equalizer and adjust the mix as appropriate to the project and the audience.

Diagram of personality traits as an audio equalizer