San Diego State University is a prestigious, modern, creative educational institution. Therefore, the SDSU logo contains an unusual inscription that pays tribute to the campus’s architectural heritage. The curved letters are reminiscent of the semi-circular roofs of buildings and elegant arches. In turn, triangular serifs were taken from retro fonts to show how old the university is.

SDSU: Brand overview

Founded:March 13, 1897
San Diego, California, U.S.

San Diego State University, also known as SDSU, was once a small institution with seven faculty members. Women who wanted to become teachers and work in elementary school were educated there. But in almost a century and a half, everything has changed: now it is a prestigious university that provides dozens of master’s, bachelor’s, and doctoral programs. And it produces a record number of doctoral students compared to other educational institutions at Cal State.

SDSU has not always been as developed as it is now. It appeared in 1897 and for two decades remained an ordinary school. After 24 years, the educational institution turned into a college, and over time it was forced to move to a new location due to the large influx of students. In 1935, it went beyond the scope of teacher education, which was originally established, which made it possible to expand the program significantly.

The latest history of SDSU dates back to 1960. It was then that, while still a college, this educational institution received autonomy and became part of the Cal State system, which was then called the State College System of California. And finally, in 1972, the educational institution opened its doors to the status of a university. And two years later, it was renamed San Diego State University.

Meaning and History

SDSU Symbol

The SDSU logo is known far beyond San Diego. SDSU has been actively developing its brand, maintaining its integrity and recognizability through visual symbols. These include the main logo, which until recently contained an image of the campus, and now consists of two inscriptions: the full and abbreviated name of the university.

In March 2022, the educational institution rebranded in honor of its 125th anniversary. It was then that a new wordmark was developed: the inscriptions “SDSU” and “San Diego State University,” were separated by a short vertical line. Characteristically, the abbreviation is typed in letters that combine straight strokes, smooth curves, and sharp triangular serifs. The designers tried to use the font to show the uniqueness of the university’s architecture and pay tribute to its heritage. At least for this purpose, rounded glyph shapes were added, reminiscent of arched openings and spherical roofs of buildings.

What is SDSU?

SDSU is the abbreviation for San Diego State University. This educational institution appeared in 1897 and has since been renamed several times. It is part of California State University’s massive system, supporting the San Diego economy and providing the region with a workforce. The main mission of the educational institution is scientific research that develops the initiative and creativity of students.

But the pointed serifs perform an exclusively decorative function. Although they can be considered in a historical context, they are associated with old typography styles. In addition, the designers combined these serifs with a modern geometric font, giving them a second life.

The red abbreviation is to the left of the gray vertical line, and the full name of SDSU is written in black letters to the right. It is divided into two lines: the first contains the phrase “San Diego State,” and the second – the word “University.” For this inscription, the developers used bold contrasting serifs with softened corners. Remarkably, both parts of the logo are balanced in width, which was achieved by adjusting the proportions of the letters.

Unfortunately, many students criticized this icon because of its versatility and excessive minimalism. They did not see it as a symbol of unity and said that it did not reflect the identity of the educational institution. The reason for this was the lack of communication with the team: the university administration decided on the rebranding without being interested in the student body’s opinion.

Each letter in the wordmark reflects the unique architecture of SDSU, which was discovered back in 1897. The vertical line dividing the text into two parts creates a visual balance where both sides are perfectly balanced despite the different styles and sizes of the lettering. This design was developed to match the logos of other institutions in The California State University system, where San Diego State University is affiliated.

But the emblem of SDSU sports teams has deep historical roots. The fact is that it displays the name Aztecs, which has been used since the last century and symbolizes the valor, courage, and militancy of those who participate in inter-university competitions.

Font and Colors

SDSU Emblem

The phrase “San Diego State University” is in a contrast serif typeface from the Tiempos family. It is part of the SDSU typography and is commonly seen in headings. And for the abbreviation, the designers created an individual set of glyphs, combining rounded geometric shapes and triangular serifs. As for the emblem of the sports teams, the monogram was designed from scratch and did not correlate with any of the existing fonts.

The logos’ colors coincide with the educational institution’s official palette. The main ones among them are bright red (#D41736) and black (#000000). The dividing line between the two inscriptions is gray, close to Charcoal (#2D2828).

SDSU color codes

Bright RedHex color:#d41736
RGB:212 23 64
CMYK:0 89 75 17
Pantone:PMS 185 C
BlackHex color:#000000
RGB:0 0 0
CMYK:0 0 0 100
Pantone:PMS Process Black C
CharcoalHex color:#2d2828
RGB:46 40 40
CMYK:0 11 11 80
Pantone:PMS Black C