Saint Mary’s College of California Earns Prestigious Gold Award for Brand Identity Guidelines

The 2023 Collegiate Advertising Awards Program places SMC among the top 5% in the nation to receive distinction.

by SMC Office of Marketing & Communications | April 8, 2024

Saint Mary’s College of California has been recognized with a prestigious Gold Award in the 2023 Collegiate Advertising Awards Program for the College’s new Brand Identity Guidelines, developed by the Office of Marketing and Communications in concert with the SMC community last year. The guidelines articulate how the College can convey in a clear and consistent way, in images and words, the rich and diverse answers to the question: “What comes to mind when someone says ‘Saint Mary’s College of California’?”

The Collegiate Advertising Awards (CAA) Program is known for its assessment of higher education institutions’ communication, marketing, advertising, and promotional efforts. Saint Mary’s earned its Gold Award in competition with many entries from diverse institutions across the United States and Canada. Recognition with a Gold Award in this competition places SMC among the top 5% of institutions in the nation.

Judges, comprising a panel of industry experts drawn from across North America, evaluated submissions against rigorous criteria, including creativity, layout and design, functionality, message effectiveness, production quality, and overall appeal. Other award-winning institutions include Emory University, Vanderbilt University, and Michigan State University.

A Comprehensive Blueprint

Saint Mary’s Brand Identity Guidelines, which were rolled out at the launch of the 2023–24 academic year, serve as a comprehensive blueprint for how to convey a clear and consistent identity across channels and platforms. These include news writing, video, photography, social media, advertising, and more. 

The guidelines are designed to encapsulate the College's mission, vision, and values while complementing its brand promise and pillars—with a result that they help tell Saint Mary’s story in a way that’s informative, authentic, and effective. Work on the guidelines was a true collaborative effort, drawing on feedback and experience throughout the College, and guided by the creative and editorial teams in the Office of Marketing and Communications—who bring both decades of experience and fresh perspectives in higher education and industry. “Our shared goal is to achieve a unified, compelling portrayal of SMC,” the guidelines articulate, “one that both inspires our audiences and is true to who we are.”

Three pictures of Saint Mary's students: playing basketball, at a microscope, in a classroom - from 2023 Branding Guidlelines

Brand pillars represent the foundational principles of an institution’s brand, guiding its actions, visual storytelling, and written communications. At Saint Mary's, these pillars embody the institution's core ethos and commitments to the community, providing a framework for consistent and impactful branding efforts.

Along with guidelines, Saint Mary’s brand identity Templates and Toolkits equip the college community with essential branding elements, including creative templates, to ensure cohesion and alignment in brand representation. These toolkits empower stakeholders across the campus to effortlessly access and deploy brand assets, fostering a unified and compelling brand presence across campus—and in their messages that reach around the globe.

“In earning this notable Gold Award, Saint Mary’s reaffirms its dedication to excellence in branding and communications,” says Elizabeth Schroeder ’12, Executive Director of Marketing for the College. “The recognition underscores Saint Mary’s commitment to showcasing its unique identity as a Lasallian Catholic university on a national stage.”


EXPLORE MORE: Saint Mary's award-winning brand identity guidelines are at

LEARN MORE about the Collegiate Advertising Awards Program.