Ryerson’s new design: Praised by faculty but questioned by students


Reporter: Emily Srebotnjak

At the beginning of the 2015 school year, Ryerson unveiled its new logo throughout its urban campus downtown.

Retaining the same blue and gold school colours, the new logo includes a slightly different design and a new font. This change is just a part of the massive “Brand Refresh Initiative” the school is undergoing. The cost of this campaign? $200,000.

“The logo is a complete waste of money. I could have drawn that,” says first-year interior design student, Salem Schewai.

“A large part of the campaign money could have gone to something else more beneficial for the students, like textbooks or improving some of the older buildings that could use renovations here at Ryerson.”

Her friend, Aida Omer agrees.

“No one I know has really paid attention to or mentioned the new logo, meaning that it’s not even that big of a deal to students when so much money went into changing it,” says the second-year sociology student. “The money should have gone towards something that could benefit the students or the academic aspect of the school.”

Ryerson collaborated with the design agency Bruce Mau Design to help formulate the school’s new logo. The university had teams with representatives including students, staff, faculty and executives to help decide what should be the new replacement for Ryerson’s former 10-year-old logo.

The process of coming up with the revived logo was said to have taken an immense amount of in-depth research, meetings with focus groups and surveys to get the final product.

According to the university’s website, the Brand Refresh Initiative, which hopes to re-articulate Ryerson’s brand was developed in relation to the “Academic Plan” set out in 2014. Entitled “Our Time to Lead”, the five-year academic plan’s mission is to establish the university’s vision of becoming Canada’s leading comprehensive innovation university.

“This is definitely worth the time and investment put into this initiative,” says Erin McGinn, Ryerson’s assistant vice-president of communications, government and community engagement.

“It’s been 20 years since this university took a similar exercise. This rebranding is important to students because it determines the value of their degree,”

The Brand Refresh Initiative is also setting out to provide Ryerson with a “platform on which to succeed in the increasingly competitive higher education world”, to emphasize the school’s unique value and why exactly it stands out amongst other universities across the country.

“I think Ryerson has been so successful in trying to change the whole ‘polytechnic college’ look that the school was viewed as in the past,” says first-year occupational health and safety student Alia Khalill. “I feel that Ryerson is already recognized for its improvements and is put on the map amongst other Canadian universities, so why not use some of that money to update programs or get better tools/equipment for us instead of refreshing our brand?”

The university’s website states that Ryerson has received record-breaking growth in applications, and that the school is being recognized locally and globally, for its innovative programs, centres and zones.

McGinn also mentioned that the initiative being implemented is not set out to change Ryerson but rather to “show what’s great about Ryerson and show what the essence of Ryerson is.”

“We’re inventive,” she adds. “And this is about students transforming themselves and the world around them.”

With Ryerson spending $195,000 on a botched road paint job back in Fall 2013, many students seem to feel that perhaps a larger amount of the university’s money should be going into updating the school’s resources instead of enhancing and beautifying the exterior elements of the school.

The difference of opinions between students versus faculty members is interesting but not necessarily shocking, considering the notion that students and faculty of Ryerson often view the university in two different ways.

Students recurrently think about what could benefit them as individuals paying to attend this school: They want to see improvements with the tools they use, the programs they are enrolled in and the buildings they attend class in.

Faculty members are often more likely to consider looking at the university as a whole: they tend to pay attention to what could potentially attract future university students to attending Ryerson, and what can be done to ensure that Ryerson is growing and evolving with the urban environment it is surrounded by.

“In an institution the size of Ryerson, there’s always going to be a perception of conflicting and competing resource needs,” says John Austin, Ryerson’s executive director of student affairs.

“There’s always something else that requires a resource, there’s a million things that we could spend the money on,” he continues. “Ryerson is a different university than it was 10 years ago. I think this new brand identity, the new logo and the energy behind it is the perfect match for the academic plan, and it’s going help elevate Ryerson to this next place in the university ecosphere.”

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