Chancellor May on the UC Davis campus

2020 UC Davis New Branding Standards

Dear Colleagues,

In 2018, we unveiled the 10-year “To Boldly Go” Strategic Plan, with one of its primary goals being to raise our visibility, show what UC Davis stands for, and attract the best and brightest. After a yearlong process of exploration, research and creative testing, Strategic Communications—in partnership with Health, DEVAR, and Athletics—has answered that call with a comprehensive master brand that will guide UC Davis through this decade and beyond.

Many of you attended our 2020 Kickoff Celebration in January that internally launched “Outgrow the Expected.” Most of your communicators attended at least one workshop to become familiar with the new suite of guidelines, tools and pre-approved assets. The Davis campus itself will soon see changes, including new light pole banners along the perimeter and main entrances. In 2021, the web team will release a home site redesign that will include new branding, user experience upgrades, stronger security, and better performance.

There is, of course, still much to do. Through this memo, I’m renewing and updating my directive from 2017 that all UC Davis units leverage these tools and apply these standards across all channels including print, web, social media, video, photography and campus signage. 

First among your resources is the online Brand Communications Guide website. It explains the look, voice and essence of the master brand. It contains thorough guidelines and “Dos and Dont’s” for writing, designing, developing, and selecting content. It connects you to logos, fonts, design elements, photos, accessibility requirements, and even a downloadable creative brief form—a simple and effective way to ensure products not only comport with brand standards but also satisfy the parameters of the assignment. In social media, the new brand will be anchored with the hashtag #UCDavisGrown.

For your department’s web development, one important tool is the SiteFarm content management system (CMS). Its templates and style settings ensure all sites are current and align with campus-wide standards. You can learn more about it at

With the recent implementation of Regents Policy 5402 (which generally prohibits contracting for services that can be performed by university staff) Strategic Communications and campus units should continue to work with Repro Graphics in executing identity work for campus entities. If your physical space, building, or campus signage needs an update, you’ll need to involve Strategic Communications and Campus Planning. For such requests, please contact

As an extension of the “Outgrow the Expected” master brand, to help meet an audacious goal of raising $2 billion, DEVAR has launched its “Expect Greater” campaign with its own subset of digital assets and design motifs. An “Expect Greater” style guide is provided so that campus communicators can easily produce compelling content supporting the fundraising effort.

Strategic Communications is eager to help you succeed in implementing these changes. All of its individual teams (including Web, Social Media, Visual Communications, News and Marketing) offer regular office hours to address whatever questions you might have.

In closing, I’d like to emphasize that this work is not merely a change of window dressing. At UC Davis, we aim high. We’re solving the world’s biggest problems. But we aren’t the household name we ought to be—not yet. Our days of being a “sleeping giant” are over. Through quality and consistency, this branding effort will help drive the kind of national awareness that helps us fulfill our promise. For it to bear the most fruit, however, we will need universal adoption. Therefore, I ask all campus stakeholders to spend the remainder of 2020 becoming fully immersed in the new “Outgrow the Expected” brand standards. Review and audit all your channels so that in 2021, when we officially launch the master brand externally, UC Davis will be well positioned to make the greatest impact possible.

Best regards,

Gary S. May