Welcome to the Strategic Identity Project

Welcome to the website for Caltech's Strategic Identity Project. Here you will find general project information, including goals, objectives, and answers to some frequently asked questions.

On April 7, 2014, we announced the outcomes of the Strategic Identity Project to campus, including Caltech's new positioning statement and visual identity. To view complete guidelines, download the logo and icon, see examples, and access tools and templates, please visit the online identity toolkit at identity.caltech.edu.

April 8, 2014

We Have Liftoff!

We are pleased to announce that Caltech's new positioning and visual identity may now be viewed online at identity.caltech.edu. We encourage you to familiarize yourselves with the new elements, try them out in your materials, and bring us your questions and concerns along the way. Your input will help us work out kinks in the new system and improve the tools and resources we're offering to campus.

We also encourage you to check out the templates available for download, including business cards, stationery, PowerPoint presentations, e-mail signatures, e-newsletters, and more. In the coming months, we will be adding templates such as invitations, posters, and flyers, as well as examples of best practices culled from across the Institute. 

Finally, we've produced an "Identity at a Glance" handout for those of you who wish to keep a quick reference guide at your desk. You can download the handout here, or contact the Office of Marketing and Communications for a hard copy.

Thank you for your continued support of this project, and happy implementing!

March 5, 2014

Preparing for Launch

In December 2013, guided by community input collected throughout the year, the Strategic Identity Project Cabinet endorsed a positioning statement for Caltech. At the same time that the cabinet made its recommendation to the executive sponsors, it announced its support for the development of a corresponding visual identity system that would—when implemented—establish a unifying set of tools to help increase Caltech's name recognition.

Since then, the Office of Marketing and Communications has been developing a strategy for putting these recommendations into practice. We have partnered with teams across campus in order to hear from staff, faculty, and students who have some level of external communications oversight or responsibility and therefore the opportunity to utilize the new positioning and identity as part of their work. They included representatives from

  • Academic divisions
  • Admissions
  • Alumni Relations
  • Athletics
  • Bookstore<
  • Development and Institute Relations
  • Graphic Resources
  • Human Resources
  • Office of the President
  • Office of Technology Transfer
  • Undergraduate and graduate deans
  • Undergraduate and graduate student leadership
  • Affiliated labs and institutes

Meeting with each of these groups has given us a clearer picture of their communications goals and needs. Their members have been reaching out to audiences in diverse ways, on campus and off. They are producing T-shirts, designing event posters, and sending out email invitations. They are mailing acceptance letters to prospective students and grant proposals to foundations, and they are appearing at job fairs, college fairs, and academic conferences. They want guidelines that are not only comprehensive and clear, but also nimble enough to apply across a range of initiatives. And they want templates and examples that will make their work easier.

As a result of this important input, Marketing and Communications is assembling an online toolkit that will provide all Caltech communicators with the information, guidelines, tools, and training they need to create materials whose messaging and visuals are in line with the new positioning. The online toolkit will include

  • Guidelines
    • Crafting content
    • Using graphic elements
    • Employing color and typography
    • Selecting photography
    • Dos and Don'ts
    • Examples
    • A selection of best practices from across the Institute
  • Templates
  • Letterhead and business cards
  • Invitations
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Posters
  • E-Stationery
  • Short and long boilerplate descriptions and histories of Caltech
  • Summaries of the Institute's innovations and their impact
  • Pride points
  • Editorial resources

We are now gearing up to introduce the results of the Strategic Identity Project, including the new visual identity system and communications guidelines. On Monday, April 7, we will be hosting two one-hour sessions in Ramo Auditorium, at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., to provide a general overview of Caltech's new positioning and to share the new visual identity system.

Starting in April we will also be offering small-group training sessions to familiarize teams across the Institute with the new tools and guidelines, to assist them in developing tailored implementation plans and schedules, and to share the best practices of colleagues throughout Caltech.

We invite you to participate in these activities, to watch for our event and training announcements, and to use the comments page on the Identity Project website to send us questions and ideas.


September 9, 2013

Caltech Community Survey: Perceptions and Priorities

Earlier this summer, the Caltech community was invited to participate in an online survey as part of the Strategic Identity Project. Faculty, staff, alumni, students, and donors shared their perceptions of the Institute and assessed priorities for the coming years. Responses came from 1,667 people; here is how that number partially breaks out:

  • 655 identified themselves as alumni
  • 328 as staff
  • 193 as graduate students
  • 236 as undergraduate students
  • 28 as postdoctoral scholars
  • 227 as donors

In each category, we exceeded our target response rate, with especially strong participation from Caltech staff and alumni. Thanks to all of you who participated in this important survey.


Respondents agreed on many points, notably that Caltech is a leading global research institution focused on advancing science and engineering. There was also consensus about the strengths that differentiate Caltech from other organizations, especially Caltech's emphasis on research and its collaborative culture, focus on people, academic freedom, and lack of bureaucracy and hierarchy. All of these were cited as factors that distinguish Caltech, even as respondents also noted that Caltech operates largely without peer.


Another goal for the survey was to assess the issues that the Caltech community sees as priorities. Here are some key points that emerged across survey responses:

  • Caltech's ability to attract and retain excellent faculty, as well as its continued investment in undergraduate and graduate education, are top priorities.
  • The current economic climate and, in particular, Caltech's ability to seek public and private funding were identified as being essential to Caltech's future success.
  • Raising the public profile of Caltech is a necessary goal in securing resources and funds, but not at the expense of sacrificing its small size, its standards of excellence, and its unique culture.


In presenting the data and analysis to the project cabinet, our consultants at Marshall Strategy and King Brown Partners noted that Caltech is operating from an extremely strong position, which is a distinct advantage in a project like this one.

Based on the incredible input from the Caltech community (the resulting data, together with the hundreds of hours of research, interviews, and discussions around the central question "What is Caltech?"), Marshall Strategy has been crafting a statement to express the Institute's positioning. The project cabinet continues to provide thoughtful feedback so that Marshall Strategy can further refine the positioning statement for the cabinet's final recommendation to the project leadership.

The Strategic Identity Project has entered an exciting phase, with the project cabinet homing in on the core messages and visuals that will amplify what we all know about Caltech: that it is a unique research institution for science and engineering. Our project team looks forward to sharing both the process and results with you in a series of Town Hall meetings this fall. In the meantime, please continue to send your questions and comments our way, and remember to visit caltech.edu/identity for additional information and updates.


June 23, 2013

Asking and Answering the Question, "What Is Caltech?"

Thank you for your interest in the Strategic Identity Project. Since May, the Institute community has been helping to answer the question, "What is Caltech?" Consulting partner Marshall Strategy has been meeting with faculty, staff, administration, donors, alumni, students, and postdocs to hear their thoughts on the things that make Caltech special. They also interviewed leaders of peer schools, funding agencies, technology companies, and local government to learn how the Institute is perceived from the outside. This qualitative research was followed by a campus-wide survey, which was completed by over 1,600 people.

On June 17, the Project Cabinet met with the project's executive sponsors to begin to review the findings. The cabinet, composed of representatives from across the Institute, has been tasked with reviewing the findings at each stage of the project to ensure that all results are authentic and germane to the Institute. This was their third meeting, and it included thoughtful conversation about aspects of Caltech that have been noted as differentiating characteristics, including its small size, its culture of risk taking and innovation, its outstanding faculty and students, and its spirit of curiosity and problem solving.

In the coming weeks, the project cabinet will rigorously review the research, weighing the qualities and characteristics recognized as distinguishing Caltech, and will put forward a recommendation to the executive sponsors about how best to position the Institute.

The Institute community's support for this project has been tremendous, and the project's executive sponsors and cabinet are grateful to all who have participated so far via the interviews, focus groups, and campus-wide survey. With your input, the Institute is on its way to crafting a strong communications platform that will increase appreciation for Caltech and strengthen its influence among the people who know the Institute today, as well as those who should know Caltech but have not yet been introduced.