Branding called key development
Valuable first steps have been taken in the process that will culminate in the new year with a position statement that will differentiate the University of Saskatchewan from its competitors.
A Sept. 23rd town hall meeting was told revised visual identity guidelines will be the first step in the effort to co-ordinate a consistent look and message for the University. Discussion of brand messaging will occur through the fall.
The open meeting on branding heard this exercise is critical for the future of the U of S because the new messages and images will play a key role in helping it compete with other universities and achieve its goals.
President Peter MacKinnon told the town hall the University is in tough competition for students, faculty and research funds, so it needs to aggressively pursue its three strategic directions of adhering to international standards, identifying areas of particular strength, and celebrating its sense of place in the world.
“Branding is part of that big discussion,” MacKinnon said, adding it will determine how the U of S will use symbols and messages to express its strengths and priorities as it competes with other institutions.
Heather Magotiaux, Vice-President of Advancement, said it is well known that a university’s profile and reputation affect its ability to attract students and faculty. In the coming years, branding is key because “the quality of the people we attract will affect the quality of our programs for decades to come,” she said.
“We have to make sure that how we are perceived by our stakeholders is how we want to be perceived,” Magotiaux added.
She said recent moves by University Communications to unveil prototype new U of S logo applications have started the ball rolling, but now “we need to move the discussion to branding” and to the messages the University wants to spread.
Magotiaux said the branding exercise is timely. It’s based on the University’s new strategic directions as well as the more detailed initiatives flowing from the recent campus-wide integrated planning process.
And she said it’s also timely because, while a new U of S visual identity was developed in the early 1990s, it has been a challenge on such a decentralized campus to consistently apply that identity and the University’s messages. New, focused messages and more flexible logos and rules for their use will be a big step forward, she said.
Communications Director Ghislaine McLeod told the town hall that introduction of the prototype new visual identity elements as well as an evolving new look for the University’s web homepage, has sparked discussion across campus.
McLeod said the process of gathering feedback on visual elements and openly discussing desired brand messages will take place over the next few months. She and Magotiaux presented an update on brand development to University Senate at its Oct. 1 meeting and the Board of Governors will consider the issue at its Nov. 8 meeting. A series of round-table discussions are planned for before Christmas and a draft report will go to the President’s Executive Committee in February. A final town hall meeting to present findings is planned for March.