What’s in a name?

When Juliet professed her love to Romeo, her words revealed that even in Shakespeare’s time, name recognition was key to promoting a brand identity.

The University of Guelph’s founders demonstrated the same understanding when they named this institution in 1964. Succeeding administrators built on that foundation of marketing savvy when they developed the University’s trademark in 1987 and enhanced it in 2007 with the tag line “Changing Lives, Improving Life.” Now U of G once again reinforces its brand with a special 50th-anniversary logo built around graphics that answer Juliet’s “What’s in a name?”

Everything, says Chuck Cunningham, assistant vice-president (communications and public affairs), who led the design process for a 50th-anniversary logo.

“When U of G celebrates its golden anniversary in 2014, we want to recognize and reinforce the University’s successful marketing and communications efforts. The new graphic suggests an upbeat celebration while reinforcing the value built into the University’s long-standing trademark.

“In the 50 years since Guelph’s founding colleges joined forces to create a full-fledged university, U of G has risen to the top tier of Canadian universities and developed an enviable international reputation,” he adds. “The University of Guelph is a trusted ‘brand’ in higher education; our trademark shows the world who we are, and our tag line tells what we do to earn that reputation.”

Cunningham says the 50th-anniversary logo will be used campus-wide in 2014 and will be available to U of G departments and student groups this year as they plan anniversary celebrations, displays and communications material. The logo was designed by Toronto-based branding agency Trajectory in consultation with the University’s 50th-anniversary steering committee. Chaired by Maureen Mancuso, provost and vice-president (academic), the committee sought input from students, faculty, staff, alumni and retirees.

A golden anniversary is a time to reflect on past achievements, so it seems appropriate to revisit the development of the foundation graphic in the University’s new 50th logo, says Cunningham. Commonly called the “Identifier,” U of G’s distinctive trademark was designed to accomplish just what its title implies: advance the University’s name and make it easy for potential students, donors and other stakeholders to identify U of G publications and activities.

The Identifier was developed in 1987 by a campus committee that included Cunningham and graphic designer Chris Boyadjian, Student Housing Services. The Identifier was approved by Senate and the Board of Governors and implemented campus-wide in all U of G marketing and communications initiatives. The traditional U of G crest, which was designed for the University’s 1964 incorporation, is now more commonly used for formal documents such as letterhead, degrees and diplomas.

“Our goal in 1987 was to design a typographic trademark with a classic yet timeless look,” says Boyadjian. “The horizontal bars, the italicized ‘of’ and the swoop on the R turned the distinctive Caxton font into a visually unique logo for the University of Guelph.” The swoop, she remembers, was especially well-received on campus.

Adding the “Changing Lives, Improving Life” tag line in 2007 created the “Cornerstone” logo, which appears at the top left corner of this page. Cunningham says the tag line helps to advance the University’s reputation in today’s marketplace. “As the competition for students, faculty and staff, donors and research support continues to increase, the strength of a university’s brand becomes more and more important.

“Attaching this key message to the University’s brand image has helped to differentiate U of G and contributes to our ongoing success in The BetterPlanet Project,” he says.

“When developing U of G’s 50th-anniversary logo, we received great advice from across campus,” adds Cunningham. “The result is an anniversary symbol that builds on the University’s successful branding strategy – and the strength of its name – by adding a celebratory visual to the Cornerstone trademark.”

Communicators across campus can access the anniversary logo as they plan 2014 anniversary events, websites and publications by contacting the Department of Communications and Public Affairs at cpa@uoguelph.ca.


This computer-generated image suggests using U of G’s 50th logo to promote University history and anniversary celebrations in the Guelph community.