Ryerson’s makeover: are two rectangles worth $200,000?

Google isn’t the only one with a new logo — Ryerson students were greeted back to school with a very expensive blue rectangle and an equally expensive yellow one.

These two rectangles and some sans-serif text are the university’s new logo and part of a massive three-year brand overhaul put together by Toronto firm Bruce Mau Design.

rye logo

The new logo, as seen on Ryerson.ca. (Courtesy of Ryerson University)

The logo is slick and sleek, and a much needed improvement over the old Ryerson esthetic. What’s so damning is the $200,000 price tag and the three years a committee slaved away rebranding the school.

What could be even more expensive and time-consuming is retrofitting all the buildings, signs and classrooms with this new look. Nothing like construction workers all over campus. Just look at how well that yellow and blue road turned out.

Also, how much is that going to cost? The cost of building giant steel signs, updating all the signs around campus and then installing them is going to turn the campus into a construction zone nightmare.

After spending a cool $3,900 on tuition this semester alone, I can’t help but think that this money could have been put to better use.

A photo of Charles Bossy. (Kira Wakeam/Ryersonian Staff)

The Ryerson University Refresh Initiative doesn’t see it that way. It spins the refresh as a “sign-off to everything we say. It embodies who we are and unites all of our different voices so that together we are stronger than the sum of our parts.” The Initiative also mentions the logo “acknowledges our past, while taking a confident step forward.”

In reality, the university’s decision to refresh the brand is not only self-serving, but also delusional. The brand’s fresh website breaks it down into four main points (none of them even mention students, by the way):

1. To provide Ryerson with a platform on which to succeed in the increasingly competitive higher education world.
2. To identify what makes Ryerson exceptional in particular areas and create compelling messages that resonate with our community.
3. To help tell the (sic) our story and talk about the Ryerson experience in an integrated and cohesive way, emphasizing our unique value and how we stand out.
4. To further strengthen our community pride.

A good university comes down to its students, not its brand. The University of Toronto, Harvard and Cambridge have had the same logos forever.
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.

Only six per cent of Ryerson’s undergrads are international students. Compare that to the University of Toronto where 17 per cent are international students.

What makes more sense to succeed in the higher education world: attracting the world’s best students, or wasting time and resources on a logo that could have been designed in Photoshop in an hour?

All the best schools do this.

Ryerson doesn’t really do this.

The obvious retort is that Ryerson just doesn’t have the budget that these bigger schools do. So why then are we wasting it on a brand refresh?

One Comment

  1. patrick mckenna says:

    you make some good point

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