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Wilfrid Laurier University Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
October 24, 2016
Canadian Excellence


Visual Identity Review

Visual Identity Review pre-design input findings

Mar 31/11

In late February, representatives of Scott Thornley + Company (STC) conducted pre-design input sessions with students, faculty, staff and alumni in Waterloo, Brantford and Toronto. At the same time, members of the university community were invited to share their opinions via on-line forums and Facebook discussion groups. The following provides an overview of the key learnings from this process, and forms the basis for STC’s work in the design phase of the Visual Identity Review process. Comments are welcome.

Since its beginnings in 1911 as the Evangelical Lutheran Seminary of Canada, to its becoming Wilfrid Laurier University in 1973, the institution has spent a number of its 100 years in transition. That evolution continues today, and while there isn’t complete agreement within the university community regarding what is to come, the fact is the university is already creating the future – a future that is both grounded proudly in the past, and guided by the vision approved by the Senate and Board of Governors as a result of the Envisioning Laurier process.

As Dr. Max Blouw outlined in his President’s message on the “Laurier inspires” website: Integrating academic excellence with social engagement is within our very DNA. This linkage is so natural for us that sometimes we fail to notice how much of our curriculum and how many of our activities and initiatives are leadership and purpose driven.

This sentiment was evident in the language used and the description of “life at Laurier” over the 18 hours of interviews STC conducted with students, faculty, staff and alumni. There was also a real sense of passion and caring. These are all people who want to be engaged. In fact, a comment that was expressed consistently was the gratitude for "just being asked."

There is a substantial amount of loyalty to Wilfrid Laurier University among those who are connected to the school, and this loyalty is key to the school’s success. There is also an opportunity, and many would say ‘the necessity,’ to raise awareness about Laurier provincially, nationally and internationally. The shared opinion is that this must be done in a way that presents the university in a cohesive, consistent and professional manner.  

The Visual Identity Review is about more than just a logo or a tagline. It’s about an authentic reflection of who we are as an organization. As STC moves into the creative development phase this loyalty and the history of the school must be acknowledged and respected. The recommendations put forward by STC will be inspired by and must convey a sense of academic excellence, elegance, and prestige while reflecting both the historical and the modern. They must also reflect the energy, intelligence and socially conscious character of the people of Laurier.

Specific insights regarding the university name and existing identity from stakeholder interviews:

  • “Laurier” is used when the audience is familiar with the school. "Wilfrid Laurier University" is used when the audience is unfamiliar with the school.
  • There is a deep loyalty to the school colours of purple and gold.
  • Both the existing wordmark and seal resonate with people, but are seen to be appropriate for different usages. The seal is more formal, the wordmark less formal.
  • Reactions to the use of the maple leaf as a graphic image ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other. 
  • The current identity does not address the needs of a multi-campus university; this is an issue that must be resolved.
  • There is a need for clear guidelines in terms of the use of the identity, what is appropriate and permitted for sub-identities, etc. and people expressed a willingness to follow these guidelines once they are established.

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