Rothman Family Institute for Food Studies

Growing a New Brand for UCLA’s Food-Centric Institute

Brand Strategy, Content Creation, Content Strategy

How do you brand a multidisciplinary institute? Focus on the people.  

UCLA’s Rothman Family Institute for Food Studies celebrates the vital role that food plays in culture, tradition, and identity. To hard launch the Institute, promote their important work, and rally their community, the team asked us to build a full brand, including heart, messaging, visual identity, website, strategy, and launch assets.

To create an aligned brand, we started by aligning the team. 

Although food is the catalyst for the work they do, the Rothman Family Institute for Food Studies aims to change the world by examining how food systems affect social justice, health, economic well-being, etc. This focus on community engagement heavily influenced the way we approached their brand design. Starting with a half-day workshop, we closely collaborated with the team, as well as Marcie H. Rothman (the Institute’s main donor), to distill the Institute’s values and mission. This gave us the foundation needed to build out messaging pillars and explore visual elements that could bring their story to life. Through this process, we crafted the tagline “Gather. Cultivate. Grow.”—a theme that applies to both food and community growth.

The visual brand focused on more than food. 

Because the Institute connects people from all disciplines, we wanted to broaden the visual language beyond food. After diving into inspiration from a range of unlikely sources (including vintage technical illustrations and modern-day cookbooks), we thought about the way we depict food in modern media, particularly online. To blend these themes, we used a soft, earthy color palette that celebrates the beauty of home-grown food, intermixed with candid people-centric imagery and the type of high-flash food photography we often see on social media. This approach easily translated to an explainer video and other assets for the launch. 

With a fully fleshed-out brand, the Institute can plant seeds for future growth.  

Now, with a unifying vision, clear messaging, and a new site and identity, the Institute can turn its mission into meaningful action for students, faculty, and the larger community. 

"The C5 team was extremely professional and attentive to our questions and needs. They work fast, but they also listen. C5 offered the support we needed to make the iterative process of website development creative and collaborative—and we love our beautiful and functional site."

Leigh Harris
Assistant Dean of UCLA Undergraduate Education Initiatives

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