American design guru Michael Bierut put it best: “Logos on their own, particularly new ones, don’t mean that much in and of themselves.”
Don’t get me wrong.
Western’s much-needed rebrand comes at a critical point in our history. A once regional university has earned a national reputation for providing an experience second to none. That reputation can only strengthen as we build partnerships with universities around the globe.
If we want to make Western more broadly known, however, one thing about our visual identity is abundantly clear:
We need to simplify.
At last count, Western uses more than 70 different logos to promote itself to the world. That’s not including the dozens used by student groups and clubs.
Websites, brochures, bulletin boards, research posters all displaying different names, symbols, fonts and colours. Disparate logos used inconsistently water down the important stories Western needs to tell.
In response, we hired a strategic marketing firm, Level5, to help determine our brand positioning – bringing clarity to what makes Western unique. Secondly, we conducted a full review and redesign of our visual identity in partnership with Hahn Smith Design, an awardwinning agency based in Toronto.
Throughout our brand journey we tried to get as much feedback from as many stakeholders as possible.
And what results is a logo that is respectful of our past, with some modern elements added to make it more relevant and more easily reproduced – especially in today’s digital world.
But, as Bierut suggests, a new logo won’t put Western on the world stage. It’s the plan and how we use the logo that will “start to create value around it.”
It will be the messaging we build. The stories we tell. The discoveries our researchers make. The care our professors take in teaching our bright students. And it will be our students, who through transformative learning experiences, in big cities and in remote villages thousands of kilometres from home, will leave here as our best ambassadors.
Together, as faculty, staff, students and alumni, we will bring value to this new visual identity.
Together, we are the Western story.
We hope you will embrace this new identity. Wear it proudly. But more importantly, we hope you will continue to help us tell the Western story.
Your voices are indeed our most valuable asset.