SMC branding project brings unprecedented recognition

Updates to the new Santa Monica College branding project were presented at the Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 4, 2011, with co-founder Noreen Morioka of design firm Adams Morioka discussing recent developments for the $110 million project, which will create a distinct new style to represent SMC. Containing five phases in two parts, it is expected to bring unprecedented recognition to an already exceptional reputation.

One of the keys to making SMC a prominent brand is creating a powerful and effective phrase.

Following the analysis of the school’s feedback, the two final choices were “Go. Boldly.” and “1st in Class,” with the first being selected as the winning phrase.

In order to get an accurate and genuine impression of our school, Morioka conducted a vast series of interviews with SMC leaders, current students, alumni, and parents.

After talking to numerous people about their views of SMC and what it means to them, her findings came as a surprise. “I was very taken aback by the focus and care about creating this community at SMC,” Morioka said.

The quality and passion of the people, and the way students honor and treat their campus were some of the distinctions that stood out to Morioka, who feels that SMC has a very strong culture.

“Students don’t view the college as an extension of high school, but as a huge step towards their future,” she said.

Also called an “identity,” branding is the understanding of the culture of a group.

In order to clearly represent the uniqueness and individuality of a group, Morioka said: “You don’t just start making logos. You have to understand who you’re making the identity for.”

When asked of their thoughts on effective phrasing, eight out of ten SMC students asked agreed that “Go. Boldly.” is a better representation of their school. “I like ‘Go. Boldly.,’” said Raiden Edwards because it shows strength and resilience.”

Almira Nikrawesh also chose the winning phrase saying, “It’s more empowering. I don’t feel that we’re necessarily 1st in Class.”

A few students chose the second slogan as their favorite, such as Daniela Foster who says, “I think 1st in Class is better because we’re one of the best community colleges. I think it’s powerful.”

Overall, “Go. Boldly.” was favored as the stronger image, with many students finding the runner-up phrase to be too pretentious.

In their branding strategy, the team also reviewed the competition with observing not only the junior colleges in and out of the area, but also 4-year universities such as USC and UCLA because of the high quality of education at SMC.

So far, Morioka and her team have twice presented the brand’s visual concept to focus groups.

With a plan of presenting a third round of refinements to the focus groups, the team plans to unveil the identity options in November.

“The students have created a spirit here,” says Morioka. “That’s one thing I enjoy from the students, is how proud everyone is to be a part of this community and this culture.”