In the late 1980s, when Eric Hidalgo was nearing the end of his art studies at Universidad de Costa Rica, he landed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to build a visual brand identity for a bold educational experiment called EARTH University.
The challenge was daunting. Hidalgo was tasked with envisioning sleek designs for promotional materials before our campus infrastructure was even built. He prepared invitations for the ground-breaking ceremony, business cards for representatives to circulate, and informative signs to be posted around the nascent Guácimo Campus, so guests could find their way.
By that time, lawyer Manuel Peralta and USAID staff members had already devised the University’s name to be an acronym:
|E||Escuela de||School of|
|A||Agricultura de la||Agriculture in the|
|R||Región||Region of the|
With guidance from Germán Vargas, a founding member of EARTH’s faculty, Hidalgo began developing our future logo. He had to express all that the fledgling institution strived to represent – our academic model, values, and mission – in a single symbol. He worked on 10 different proposals. With no computers or design software to accelerate the process, he had to painstakingly create each sketch by hand, using different types of paper, pencils, markers, and gadgets to produce full-color drafts that could approximate how each printed element would look.
In the image manual, Hidalgo described the winning logo as “a plant consisting of four leaves that progressively ascend toward the sun”, one leaf per year of professional study outlined in the Academic Program. Our logo captures the gradual personal growth that our students undergo along their path toward enlightenment, as well as their formation into sturdy, upright, ethical leaders – two hallmarks of the EARTH experience.
Similarly, color was the subject of important conversations during the branding process. Hidalgo and the team selected Pantone 320 as the University’s official hue because it is equal parts green and blue – respectively representing foliage and water, two key elements of the biodiverse rainforest we call home. Additionally, as a mix of colors, it symbolizes the rich blend of diverse cultures found on our campuses. Over time, EARTH has expanded the color palette to include a vibrant, sunny orange that embodies the boundless energy and vitality of our students.
Today, Hidalgo is an educator, researcher, and specialist in corporate image, philately (the study of postage stamps), and inclusive design. Formerly, he was director of the School of Arts at Universidad de Costa Rica. Thanks to his creativity, EARTH was further shaped into a distinct and enduring brand that inspires people and partners across the globe.