Cal Poly tackles diversity issues with ‘Share it. Shape it. Change it.’ Campaign

by: Amy Blasco

“What’s Cal Poly like for you?”

That’s the overarching question posed to university students, faculty and staff by the Cal Poly Experience. The university launched CPX—a digital survey for students, faculty and staff—last April as part of a 12-month plan to create a more inclusive culture on campus.

When CPX leaders first met with Verdin about the survey, their goals were clear: to increase survey participation rate to 40 percent completion among students and 80 percent completion among faculty and staff. Compared to the participation rates from the survey conducted five years, that’s close to double the response for students and close to the same high response for faculty and staff.

To accomplish these ambitious goals, Verdin developed a multi-faceted campaign that would resonate with a wide range of people. Specifically, CPX needed to reach the university’s most underserved populations, including people of color, LGBTQ+ and religious groups, and out-of-state students.

Connecting with such a diverse audience can be difficult for any marketing campaign, but CPX faced some additional challenges. The biggest of those to overcome was the perception from students, faculty and staff that doing another survey doesn’t equate to actually making lasting, cultural change.

It was important to communicate to the Cal Poly community that this survey, and the resulting action plan, would be different. This invaluable data would give university leaders the crucial information needed to create a plan for making everyone feel welcome, safe and equally protected under the law.

In partnership with CPX leaders, Verdin created a new brand logo with the tagline “Share it. Shape it. Change it.” We also developed key messaging, social media videos, T-shirts, buttons, posters, and more. All of the campaign art used a range of earthy colors meant to reflect a range of skin tones and paired them with the Mustang Green and Gold. Additionally, we featured personal stories from the community through video, photos and print.

Our design team even played with less conventional mediums, developing a poster with reflective paper that would serve as a mirror when posing the key CPX question, “What’s Cal Poly like for you?” This concept was a way to show all students that they are equally important and that their university wants to hear from them.

So, did we meet our client’s goals?

After months of planning, surveying and tabulating, the results are in and…

According to CPX, 41 percent of Cal Poly’s roughly 22,000 students completed the survey, followed by 65 percent of faculty and staff.

The data from this game-changing campaign will be presented at a Cal Poly Leadership Institute this fall. Diversity and inclusion expert Dr. Damon Williams will present the campus community with tools to transform the university’s culture and its future.

Keep your eye on Cal Poly and watch for some systemic changes to come, in the spirit of diversity and inclusion.

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