What separates us from the hundreds of colleges and universities in California and the thousands of institutions across the country? What does Cal Poly do differently — and even better — than all the rest of them? The answer to these critical questions can be found in our positioning.
Based on comprehensive discovery and research, our Brand Platform reveals the key insights that establish our positioning and guide our brand strategy. Ultimately, these elements all work together to describe the scope and impact of our most important differentiator: Learn by Doing.
(our approach to education)
We educate the head and the hand, readying accomplished students who value the link between knowledge and application and are confident in their ability to make an impact.
(how we do it)
We focus on putting learning into practice by working across disciplines and having extensive partnerships to address today’s (and tomorrow’s) most pressing challenges.
(our impact on others)
We make a difference every day in industries, communities and lives across California and around the world.
Energetic, yet disciplined approach to discovery.
Engaged, hands-on approach to collaboration.
Confident individuals with experience in problem-solving.
The role of a narrative is to lay the foundation for writing in a distinct voice, as well as to inspire the messages we communicate going forward. No matter who or what we’re writing about, our voice should stay true to the spirit of our brand narrative and our brand personality. Our narrative should be used as a guide for tone and style. Individual lines shouldn’t be copied and used directly. Instead, mirror how the language gets to the point and uses a confident, active tone to describe Learn by Doing.
Learn by Doing, Ready Day One
At Cal Poly, we believe that experience is essential — that whatever you’re learning, you learn it best when you do it for yourself. For more than a century, we’ve made this the center of everything we do.
This is a place for people who are ready to dive in head first and put knowledge into action. For those who come together from all different backgrounds to relentlessly pursue better solutions, across disciplines and boundaries. For those who know that if you want to build a better world tomorrow, you have to put in the work today.
This is Learn by Doing, and it’s what makes us ready, day one, to take on whatever comes next — from everyday challenges to the world’s most pressing problems. Cal Poly inspires us to imagine a brighter future for California, our nation and our world, and Learn by Doing empowers us to make that future a reality.
In addition to our narrative, we have also defined precisely what we mean when we say Learn by Doing and Ready Day One as well as what each means to our students.
As with our narrative, this definition of Learn by Doing is not necessarily to be used word-for-word in your communications, but rather to inform and inspire your writing. When writing out Learn by Doing, use an uppercase L and D. Don’t use hyphens, quotes or italics, and avoid other Learn by phrases, such as Learn by Winning or Learn by Innovating, etc.
Learn by Doing means that we don’t see a difference between the education we provide and the “real world.” Here, experiences are part of the curriculum. That’s because knowledge is inextricably linked to the world around us. To learn is to do. To do is to learn. At Cal Poly, each fuels the other.
Readiness is the result of a Cal Poly education and the expression of Learn by Doing. It is more than a mindset. It is a tangible, marketable skill and an earned expertise, both hallmarks of our graduates.The phrase is only to be used when describing or showing the work of students, faculty, staff and/or alumni. Use to highlight our people, not our products. In other words, focus on the students we serve, rather than the services we offer.
From their first moments on campus, Cal Poly students are ready to dive in to their education, head-first and hands-on. It’s this eagerness to immediately contribute, combined with Learn by Doing, that prepares graduates for anything and primes them for excellence, both personally and professionally.
Our polytechnic nature is in our name, but the concept can cause some confusion. Many external audiences don’t understand how our polytechnic education differs from other institutions. This concept also underscores how valuable our diversity and inclusion is among our learning community as we work together to solve important problems.
A polytechnic education prepares our students to excel in more than one arena and in concert with people from different disciplines and backgrounds. Cal Poly students are exposed to humanities, science, technology, nature, innovation and more to reframe their approach to their own disciplines and to enable collaboration beyond them.
Marketers and communicators at Cal Poly should leverage at least one of these key messages in every piece of communication they create, from press releases to feature stories to social media posts. By looking at the diverse stories of people in the Cal Poly community through the lens of these core truths and enduring messages, our storytelling can more clearly illuminate the value of our university.
Learn by Doing
Learn by Doing stories should emphasize that experience is our curriculum. The concept was born here, and it is the defining experience of our university. These examples put students in the driver’s seat as they sharpen important skills for the real world. This is our chance to expand on the familiar concept with more depth: showcase and celebrate the full continuum of the Learn by Doing process, through initial curiosity, teamwork, resilience through failure, and impact on the problem and the people solving the problem.
Ready Day One
The ultimate result of a Cal Poly education is not a good grade – it’s a lifelong state of readiness for the real world. Readiness requires that we excel at more than one thing and embracing diverse perspectives along the way. The state of readiness endures in our alumni community, driving innovation, resourcefulness and confidence.
Impact on California, Our Nation and Our World
Cal Poly is focused on solving problems in California because what’s discovered here goes on to solve the world’s problems. California taxpayers invest in Cal Poly and its people; we return the favor by educating its people and tackling its problems. Our central location gives us access to opportunities across the state so we can play a role in nearly every industry that shapes life here. Wherever you are in California, you find Cal Poly students, faculty and graduates shaping the future.
To download a content strategy worksheet to help your stories leverage Cal Poly’s brand messages, visit the University Marketing Wiki.
Each story we tell should have an authentic tone that feels distinctly Cal Poly, as well as possess a single purpose tailored to an intended audience. As such, when you write with the Cal Poly voice — especially for a general audience — you should use straightforward, practical, easy-to-understand language. Use the following writing tips as a stylistic gauge.