In response: Ryerson’s new logo is not doomed

Ryerson new logo

Ryerson’s new logo. Courtesy Ryerson University.

By Vjosa Isai

Just because Ryerson’s new logo is blue and yellow and costs the university money, doesn’t mean that it’s doomed.

Last week, reporter Charles Bossy offered a negative viewpoint of the logo in his article, “Ryerson’s makeover: are two rectangles worth $200,000?” But dismissing Ryerson’s rebrand as waste of money is a contemptuous oversimplification of something that is clearly good for the school and students.

Ryerson’s refreshed logo is a lot more than a new nametag. Below are some arguments made by Bossy that need more perspective.

“In reality, the university’s decision to refresh the brand is not only self-serving, but also delusional.”

For a post-secondary institution looking to attract investors and create opportunities for students, solidifying its brand and the translatable “user experience” is vital.

There is nothing delusional about dusting off our old image given the dramatic changes that are going on at our campus: the inaugural opening of the SLC in 2015; over $70 million in funding raised by our world-class DMZ’s incubated start-ups over the past five years; private investment into innovation projects like the Fashion Zone.

The culmination of these changes in the right direction suggests that Ryerson is poised to become the go-to school for delivering real-life career opportunities in a learning environment. Now, we have to share this fact with the rest of the world.

“I think the new brand really captures what is essential about Ryerson – a leading comprehensive university that’s seamlessly part of Toronto’s core,” said Michael Forbes, manager Ryerson’s Office of Public Affairs. “As a result of this refresh, I think students can expect to see a much more unified presence from Ryerson that will distinguish us from other institutions and that helps to tell our story. And it’s these stories that will hopefully resonate with employers to reinforce the skills and abilities of our grads.”

He added that the brand refresh isn’t limited to the new logo. It includes templates, tools, and user guides, which will be standardized and save Ryerson money because each department or faculty will not have to re-create new materials each time. There’s also nothing self-serving about that.

“The University of Toronto, Harvard and Cambridge have had the same logos forever.

Unlike the University of Toronto, Harvard, and Cambridge, Ryerson University simply does not have the same academic reverence or lineage of star-spangled alumni, both the product of years of history. Their brands are built in history. In fact, it would almost be offensive for them to change their logos and re-write that history, unless it’s the signpost for a new vision and direction of the institution.

Ryerson does not have the luxury of centuries of time to back-up its reputation. Our brand is built in the present, and keeping up with the now is what defines us.

“Instead of spending five years twiddling their thumbs with Bruce Mau on a redesign they should have used the time and resources reaching out to international students who bring new ideas to the table.”

Well, we now know the project took five years because the design included a comprehensive rebrand and long-term planning, not just a pretty new picture that says Ryerson on it. But I’m confused at how this rebrand would in any way discourage the world’s best students from coming to Ryerson. Also, why all the hype about international students? Ryerson barely has enough residence space to house them. Reaching out to these students would have been a bigger waste of resources because the sales pitch would be “Hi, please come to Ryerson, a refurbished high school”.


  1. Here’s my response to the response:

    Firstly, I’d like to make one thing clear: I think the re-brand is a good idea. The logo is sharp, and digging deeper into ethos of it, in principle the re-brand makes sense.

    What doesn’t make sense is the price tag. I think the Ryersonian did an article last week about how Ryerson ranked last again in University World Rankings. I’m not sure how investing several hundreds of thousands of dollars in re-brand is going to bolster our ranking.

    What will improve the university’s ranking is international students. The trend among the most reputable schools in the world is that they invest time into reaching out and attracting the best from around the world. As I noted in my article only 6 per cent of Ryerson’s students are from outside the country. We’re not doing our best to attract the best and the brightest from around the world. I think had this time been invested into overseas marketing, it would have been better for the school.

  2. The ‘old’ logo is not old. In terms of branding, it’s not uncommon to rebrand every 20 years or so especially for cash-strapped institutions. And usually these efforts should c0st $50,000. A lot of my colleagues in the graphic design industry – very talented and experienced professionals – truly hate the logo, especially given the price.

    Did the author of this response not bother to interview anyone outside the school who is a subject matter expert in this field? Of course Michelle Forbes is going to love it – her job is dictated by the marching orders of the school. Ryerson’s #1 priority is to promote and protect their brand. Above everything else. Everything.

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