There’s nothing quite like the first day of school. You’re excited, a little nervous, and completely overwhelmed. Maybe you looked like these kids by the end of the day — or maybe you looked like the ones on the @PennRes Instagram feed. If you look closely, you’ll see those smiling faces wearing shirts with a new seal, pushing carts with new colors and graphics, and walking by tents emblazoned with a new logo. These elements are all part of a larger rebranding project between the University of Pennsylvania Residential Services and J2 Design.
Our goal: create a look and feel for Penn Residential Services that appeals to both students and parents. These are two very different audiences with two very different mindsets on move-in day — “security and trust” versus “let’s have some fun!”
The new brand started with a seal created to complement UPENN’s shield. The stateliness of the 100+ year old Coat of Arms needed a bit of an update with a supporting piece. The new Penn Residential Services incorporates the words SUPPORT, CARE, COMFORT, and HOME, sentiments that appeal to even the most, “I need to get out of the house and into my new school!!” UPENN student. We also created a toolkit of icons that you’ll see peppered throughout collateral pieces. The color palette uses the University’s navy and maroon, with a new punchy bright red (#dc0031) and cyan (#00adef) to provide an energetic balance.
From there, we designed collateral pieces with the tone of Trusted = PARENTS or Energetic = STUDENTS.
The “trusted” branding feels cleaner and more solid, with borders to contain copy and a Tungsten typeface. These pieces incorporate a pattern derived from the chevron on the UPENN logo, which also lends a nod to the chevron pattern of blankets and the tagline “We’ve got you covered.”
If you were anywhere on campus during move-in day this year, you would have seen this identity everywhere from banners to shirts and moving carts.
The more student-centered pieces are meant to convey the energy of starting school, moving into a big city, and meeting tons of new people. That comes across in a more deconstructed design — borders that start to break down but still frame the page, a focus on vibrant photography, and large swatches of 14 different colors to represent the 14 different UPENN school houses. On move-in day, students received a stylized in-room booklet that matched their new house, including newly designed shields that match the style of the new brand (don’t worry, they are enhancements to the brand and aren’t replacing the time-honored shield).
The primary designers on the project, Lucy Price and Nick Massarelli, both explained their favorite parts of the project:
Lucy: “My favorite design moment was getting to do these icons that are a Penn language. It was really cool that they were willing to let us do this. My favorite part of the stuff that was produced was seeing all the pictures of move-in day — seeing the logo on all their t-shirts, tents, banners. It was so saturated in our design and reaching so many people that it was really cool.”
Nick: “I got to do some really funky, large-scale things, like banners that were 18 feet tall. For me, it’s interesting because everyone remembers when they went to school, and how nervous they were, and here’s all this stuff to get the students excited. It’s really relatable.”
If you were at move-in day, tag us in your photos or let us know what you think. We’d love to hear your feedback.