University of Manitoba unveils new logo
Rich in symbolism, a new logo is the first step in the university’s brand evolution
The university began exploring the evolution of its brand in 2018. Since then, more than 7,000 students, faculty, alumni, donors and community partners have joined in the conversation, including many who participated in brand focus group sessions across Manitoba, as well as in Calgary and Toronto.
While the brand story is still evolving, a new logo has emerged.
“This new visual identity is one part of our collective story,” says President David Barnard. “It is intended to help us build bridges with our partners and enable new, more meaningful connections as we continue to engage in vibrant conversations with our community on how the University of Manitoba can best serve its core mission of learning, discovery and outreach.”
The U of M’s new visual identity reflects a brand that positions the university as a welcoming and inclusive community uniquely strengthened by Indigenous knowledges and perspectives. The new logo acknowledges the past and looks forward to the future, expressing a strong connection to the Prairies, learning in a digital world and a commitment to reconciliation.
“Reimagining the University of Manitoba logo was a bold step—and an exciting one,” says John Kearsey, vice-president (external relations), and chair of the Brand Advisory Council. “As the new brand reveals itself in small and big ways, we’ll be sharing with the world a new chapter in our evolving story.”
Instrumental to the brand discovery process, the University of Manitoba’s Brand Advisory Council brought together a diverse group of alumni, students, faculty and staff in thoughtful dialogue and exchange.
Dr. Catherine Cook, vice-dean, Indigenous, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, and one of three council co-chairs, says a collaborative, inclusive approach was key. “In our brand sessions, we kept hearing how our existing logo didn’t reflect who we are in 2019 or who we want to be,” she says. “This logo captures a new voice for our university but it’s one that’s made up of many, many voices and perspectives.”
“It tells the story of where we came from and it tells the story of where we can go,” says Ruth Shead, coordinator of Indigenous Achievement at the University of Manitoba, who helped inform the discussion. “I had the opportunity to share some of the Indigenous design principles that were developed by Indigenous community members and leaders from across this province.”
Shead notes the new logo is just the first step in the brand journey. She explains that the logo tells an important story of Indigenous ways of learning, with the flame representing oral teachings shared around a fire – a recognized symbol of reconciliation.
The Bison is the lead figure in the imagery, never idle but climbing upward and pushing progress forward. She’s undaunted by challenge, notes Jakob Sanderson, president, University of Manitoba Students’ Union and council co-chair.
“[It’s] such a central figure in this province and who we are,” he says.
“I love the way the bison is pointed forward and walking uphill. I think the logo gives us the possibility to keep growing and keep building,” offers Dayna Spiring, president and CEO, Economic Development Winnipeg and Brand Advisory Council co-chair.
The gold at the bottom of the logo represents the iconic Manitoba prairie landscape, while the flowing blue forms are also reminiscent of pages in a book, but herald new, online ways of learning and engagement.
“What this logo means to me, more than anything else, is opportunity,” adds Sanderson. “I see the opportunity to find my own path and I see the opportunity to take that path to become a leader in this province. That’s what the logo screams to me: you are here, this is your place, this is your future, go take it.”
Why does a university need a strong brand?
- To distinguish ourselves. Universities all have similar offerings. We all want to provide a high quality education to our students. And at a research-intensive university like the U of M, we also want to foster discoveries through our research that improve our society’s economic and social well-being. Because of the competitiveness of the post-secondary landscape—where we compete for students, researchers, gifts and funding—we must set ourselves apart. We have unique attributes that make the University of Manitoba like no other.
- To continue to draw students from our local community, across the country and around the world to or university.
- To help us tell stories of impact to our donors, reach our fundraising goals and provide even greater opportunities for our students and researchers.
- To increase a sense of pride among our students, faculty, staff and alumni.
- To attract research funding to continue to fuel the discoveries that our researchers are uniquely positioned to achieve.