back to article Canadian uni catches the rebranding sniffles

Canada's University of Waterloo has caught a light case of the rebranding sniffles, having decided to flush its old brand frontage (left) down the toilet of history and unveil an exciting "new marketing-oriented visual identity" (right): Before and after: The old and new University of Waterloo logos The University of …


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  1. JakeyC


    I loved that phrase you used - 'Revolution not Evolution'.

    No it was the opposite: 'Evolution not Revolution'.

    Well you know, whatever. Because that is me. I evolve, but I don't... revolve. Or vice-versa.

  2. Rob


    "Now, when I was at uni, we hit the streets in Che Guevara t-shirts, overturned cars, battled riot police, torched banks - and that was just because they'd raised the price of beer in the student union bar by two pence."

    We probably went to the same Uni

  3. Richard 81

    They needn't worry

    As soon as they get a new vice-chancellor, the university will undergo another rebranding, spending millions of dollars, to end up with (almost) exactly what they had before the last rebranding. Or is that just Surrey.

  4. lorenzo
    Paris Hilton


    The Uni authorities have met their erm... Waterloo

    Paris- cos she knows a thing or two about marketing for the talentless

  5. Richard 12 Silver badge

    So why are they changing the logo/rebranding?

    What benefit do they think it will have?

    How will they measure said benefit to show whether it was worthwhile or not?

    Rebranding costs an absolute *fortune*: Everything must be redesigned and reprinted - banners, headed paper, IDs, signs, booklets, adverts, etc.

    And that's on top of the cost of the original consultants, designers and the obligatory 'launch party'.

    At a low-end cost estimate, this probably costs more than CAD$100,000, possibly as high as half-a-million.

    So, will it somehow gain that much business? Will it introduce cost savings?

    The answer to the former is Probably Not, and the latter is Definitely Not.

    So what's it for?

    I happen to like the example banner shown, but I have definitely seen it elsewhere so it may cause trademark infringement lawsuits on top of the normal costs.

  6. James Le Cuirot

    Che Guevara

    As it happens, I am wearing such a shirt this morning.

    The embarrassing part is, my Mum bought it for me because she thought I'd like it. Thanks, Mum.

    But that's not all. My wife bought my a Che Guevara keyring because she thought I'd like it. It holds my Tesco Clubcard key fob. The irony is not lost on me. XD

  7. Efros


    I'm not sure attempting to maintain the status quo can be construed as rebellious. With a name like Waterloo they should have gone for the ABBA Glam Rock look, or alternatively to wind up the Quebecois with allusions to Napoleons... erm Waterloo I suppose.

    Beer is always welcomed by demoing students, whatever the cause.

  8. The Indomitable Gall

    I'm with the students.

    If anyone is tempted to think all that "academic standards" and "professionality" stuff is a bit pretentious, I would ask them to scan their own degree certificate, and replace their university's logo with that laser-light-show-W one.

    Then imagine how you would be showing the end result to a prospective employer. The might as well rebrand the whole place as Former Polytechnic of Toytown....

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So let me see

    The uni used to have a heraldic shield. Heraldry immediately associates with tradition and knowledge based upon historical experience. Heraldry also associates with reliability and respectability. The heraldic shield sends a clear message that people (students) going there are doing something good and will come back with knowledge and skills they can use for the rest of their lives.

    The uni now has . . . a w-shaped black figure with colored lines crisscrossing it. The only thing that can possibly be associated with that are Sunday school drawings. Or Web 2.0 - which is like Sunday school drawings only worse.

    Although I cannot deny that there is a progression, I highly doubt that it is a positive one. I am also quite incensed at the thought of all the money that was wasted on a project made by a 7-year-old. Rebranding think tanks should be shipped out to the Great Pacific Garbage Dump and sunk.

  10. lukewarmdog


    Facebook as the new medium of choice for rebellion.

    The Dean and his cronies must be trembling in their ivory towers.

    The pen may be mightier than the sword but it's less impressive to wave around when you want something doing.

  11. Jesthar

    Hit and miss...

    Well, the new font is OK, I'll give it that. The coloured lines, though? Not sure about them, screams somewhere between 'sleazy but pretentious nightclub' and 'overpriced housing development' to my mind...

  12. jackproject

    The same thing happened at a UK institution last year.

    Exactly the same thing happened at the UK's University of East Anglia. They launched an expensive rebranding campaign last summer (during a recession - great idea guys), in which the logo morphed from the tried and tested 60s one, to a new "corporate identity" which was designed to appeal to international students who to UEA - as with most UK universities - are walking blank checques...


    NEW £40,000 LOGO

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's pretty bad...

    Most uni logos are filled with meaning and history, even when they redesign them they retain what was key to the previous logo (typically a crest).

    This just seems like a paintshop job.

  14. northern monkey
    Thumb Down

    God, not this fuss again...

    When Liverpool changed their logo the unwashed masses had a right moan - getting out their student activist hats like they do for everything, claiming they wouldn't accept their degree certificates because they didn't sign up to this new logo. Tits.

    However they did take the corporate branding a tad too far, with a many many paged document on using the logos ('give it room to breathe' was the phrase I remember the clearest).

  15. Anonymous Coward


    The rebranding wreaks of "polytechnic", If it were in the uk rather than canada, I would take one look at the logo and think that it was on a similar par academically as:

    - the university of leominster,

    - westmidlandshire university ,

    - bath spa university (currently being rebranded in green and being renamed to ELC)

    - university college clapham .

    Reminds me of a pub quiz we wrote whilst drunk once, it had an entire round of university names, and you had to answer whether it was a proper uni, a poly, or an "online university for the purpose of selling degrees to people like the person formally, known as Dr Gillian McKeith"

    ... Sits back and enjoys the flames of 1000 students with degrees in media studies, socialology or combined degree in golf course management with german tourism and peace studies

  16. David Neil

    The logo reminds me of

    The rebranding my local library had a few months back, loads of free bookmarks with a nice multicoloured crap on a black background - costs thousands, but the only people who saw them were the ones going in to the library in the first place....

  17. David S


    Nail on the head! I was trying to think what that new logo reminded me of, and it's all the affordable housing developments that seem to pop up spontaneously across the south-east of England. They generally have a logo similar to this one on a hoarding nearby.

    And fewer badgers, obviously...

  18. rhydy
    Thumb Down


    My Uni, Cardiff, did a similar thing back in the days I was a student. They paid a firm over a £100K to come up with the revelation of ditching the historic cardiff University crest, for a red box containing the two words "Cardiff" and "University", presumably in a special font, presumably very exclusive.

  19. Murray Pearson 1

    I have a suggestion

    Flush the new logo down the water loo. Those smelly high-tech waterless urinals won't do the job.

  20. Gythwyn
    Paris Hilton

    Re: New Font

    "Screams somewhere between 'sleazy but pretentious nightclub' and 'overpriced housing development' to my mind..."

    Or Sheffield Uni as I'd like to think ;)

  21. Mike Richards Silver badge

    That W looks secondhand

    I think that's the no-longer needed Woolworth's 'W' with a spray job.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The old one looks stale but the new one looks like a new-university logo, superficial

    I think the old one could do with freshening up.

    But the new one looks too abstract and reminds me of a superficial new-university logo seen here. e.g.

    By the way I'm not a snob. I went to a new-university (ex-Polytechnic.)

    Maybe it needs getting used to.

    Nearby Canadian-based Nortel used to take a lot of interns from there.

    And wasn't Nortel once a pioneer in fibre optics, including Dense Wavelength Multiplexing (DWDM) sending multiple wavelengths/colours down one fibre to increase bandwidth? So perhaps the new logo refers to this fact with the lines?

    Or represents the many directions and opportunities to be had?

    Shame to hear about their demise, as I am an ex-employee...

  23. blem wit

    You shall not have a title

    Guevara was a mass murderer. Why would you use his ugly murderous mugg as a flag to the fight cheaper beer?

    Wtf do ppl talk about in uni´s bars? In my time, when we werent bothering the girls it was all about tossing pickled eggs (and the ocasional beer bottle) at the lefties Castro groupies. It wasent so fun after a while, tho. The perma-stoned crusties never dodge :(

    Poor show, Lester. Poor show.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Teesside isn't much better

    You should see what Teesside Uni recently did in their "re-branding exercise".

    Went from this:

    To this:

    "We have a new and energetic brand that signals to the outside world that we are a confident, exciting and innovative university"

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Re UEA,

    See what you mean: the old one was a bit tired, though functional, but with the new one you can't be sure that the A IS an A.

    The university also has a crest with the motto "do different" rendered, as it is pronounced in the area, "du diff'rent".

    I wonder if its still known as the "University of Easy Access"

    Dew you keep a troshin....

  26. PushF12

    University Of Waterloo's new slogan for the new logo


    "We're Serious About Success"

  27. Steven Hunter
    Thumb Up


    Obviously the new logo is a big fan of Ah the 1980s...

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Oh my word! If you go by the flash dissolves on the main page, there are some pretty birds there.

    Now, if only I could tell if the third one (wait for it) there is really a gal... =|

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I've seen some of the adverts U of Waterloo has put on the TV. They're pretty funny. Maybe no different from the average Uni adverts, but they seemed hopelessly out of touch. Saying the university was for leaders with generic rock musak in the background. University is not for the eltie anymore, pretty much everyone here gives it a go, it's damn near impossible not to be accepted. It only make sense it's going to at least seem dumber.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Revolting students

    Erm, yes.

    Now, did tuition just go down?

    Yes she did.....

  31. Lennart Sorensen

    Re: The old one looks stale but the new one looks like a new-university logo, superficial

    The old one does look a bit dull. That was due to the fact that last year (2008) they faded the yellow and made the font simpler. The original logo from 2007 and back had a much nicer font and the crest was actually much brighter. Apparently most people didn't notice that they put the logo in the wash last year with too much bleach, but the new one they now seem to be proposing is just silly.

    The facebook group has pictures of both the old and new logos and the very old (aka 2007) version that everyone seems to prefer (we would actually like the 2008 change to be dropped too).

  32. Schultz


    The Uni tries to prepare its students for real life in the real world. Expect exciting scientific breakthroughs, honest work, ...? Nah, that's not it, go back to the university for some update!

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @Teeside isn't much better

    "We have a new and energetic brand that signals to the outside world that we are a confident, exciting and innovative university"

    innovative? exciting?

    Here are the innovative & exicting things I got from Middlesborough Polytechnic, er, I mean Teeside Uni:

    - Fortran 77 (The Dean had something to do with the standards committee) while the rest of the world was learning OOP

    - No teaching of "random" functions (because they can only be used in games obviously)

    - Deletion of source code for games (because you can't learn anything from games).

    - An incredibly stone edge view of the IT industry (There was no games industry obviously...and anyone interested in security was obviously a "hacker" and therefore a no-hoper.)

    Yep, Good old Teeside. A waste of 4 years of life that would have been better spent just getting a job really.

    On the other hand, the number of pizza shops was truly impressive :-)

  34. herman Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    U Waterloo, pick-up sticks logo

    Well, I think the pick-up sticks logo is very cute. It reminds me of my pre-school days. Maybe they want to institute free childcare?

  35. Anonymous Coward

    is there a point?

    Don't they have the Perimeter Theoretical Physics Institute which has been home to some pretty talented people from time to time? I immediately read the new logo as 'bubble chamber tracks' which seemed a lot more relevant than the fake heraldry, but maybe that's just me (an academic of many years) and it won't appeal to the masses (you lot)...

  36. David Harper 1

    Rebranding idiocy is nothing new

    Back in the early 1990s, I worked at Queen Mary and Westfield College, part of the University of London. This was just after the 1989 merger of Queen Mary College with Westfield College, and the old QMC coat of arms logo had been replaced with a new "modern" design based on the letters "QMW". It was fondly known as "Jaws" because the juxtaposition of the M and the W looked like a mouthful of teeth.

    Then in 1995, the college merged with Barts and the London Hospital, and huge amounts of money were spent by the marketing wonks on a new logo, a motto and a coat of arms. We used to get frequent emails from the college Principal about his meetings with Rouge Dragon Pursuivant of the College of Arms. The Corporate Affairs office issued detailed rules about how, when and where the new logo was to be used, down to the precise Pantone colour in which it was to be printed.

    In 2000, there was yet another re-branding. The word "College" was dropped from the name, supposedly because of concerns that A-level students might mistake it for a sixth-form college. It's now known as "Queen Mary, University of London", and yet more money was spent changing the logo. Other colleges of the University of London followed suit, notably "Goldsmiths, University of London" and "Royal Holloway, University of London".

    By contrast, the larger colleges -- Kings, Imperial and UCL (my alma mater) -- didn't feel the need to treat potential students as idiots. They remain Kings College, Imperial College and University College. Besides, "University, University of London" just sounds stupid.

  37. passionate indifference

    Re: Cardiff

    If I remember correctly, that was part of a replacement of nearly all of Cardiff, where everything south of the Gabalfa Interchange was ripped out, dumped in Stormy Down tip, and replaced with something nice, shiny and attractive in order to catch the eye of the Money (wot we call those east of the border) passing through on their way to take up residence in ALL the nice picturesque cottages in the Swansea Valleys, gently chugging along in their BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne with one wing mirror helpfully angled to allow the Lady to check her makeup for the speed cameras petulantly carpeted west of J30 and the Child strapped into the back looking sullen, sour and depressed as the battery's gone on BOTH his PSP and his DS, but really because it's slowly dawning on him that the only things he's going to be doing in Nice Picturesque Cottageland (until his parents finally lose him to uni) are drugs, alcohol and other bored English expat teenagers

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Rebranding looks fine to me

    Fits in with western education, what once was a seat of learning is now a plastic all you can snort nightclub.

  39. s.r.sutherland


    Congratulations, Waterloo - you have obviously metamorphosed into a playschool.

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