While Redeemer had been working towards a refresh of the brand for a number of years, ministerial consent for a name change to Redeemer University on January 20, 2020 made the effort especially timely.
“Redeemer’s Reformed Christian mission isn’t changing, but the world is and our academic program and overall experience are adapting to meet that change,” said President Dr. Robert Graham. The previous strategic plan included new degree programs and centres, with particular emphasis on experiential learning. Tuition reduction last year set the stage for enrolment growth and the forward-looking innovation continued with an exciting and visionary plan for the future of Redeemer. “The name change was the final push. The timing was right to think about how Redeemer University presented itself, and to refresh the brand in a way that captures the founding mission with a view to the future.”
The rebrand was the fourth stage of a four-phase integrated marketing plan that began in 2015. Since that time, Redeemer has conducted Ontario market research and surveyed enrolled and non-enrolled students about the brand and the university as a whole. Insights were applied to marketing along the way, understanding that a larger rebrand would be an opportunity to re-introduce the university to those who knew little, or who misunderstood what the school offered. It would also provide a platform to reach new audiences.
At the outset, an internal rebrand advisory group was formed consisting of a student, faculty, staff and alumni to represent the university throughout the process. The leadership team was also represented in the group and they were kept informed, along with the Board of Governors at various stages throughout the process. The group worked with two different agencies during the project. CREW Marketing in Oakville led the group through strategy, messaging, focus group research and design direction. Capture Studio in Waterdown then worked closely with Redeemer’s internal marketing team to design the final logo, brand assets and style guide.
“It was clear from these groups that Redeemer and its brand meant a lot to the community. They were open to change and excited about something new, but they also wanted to maintain a connection to Redeemer’s rich heritage and unique identity”
The project included considerable consultation with many stakeholder groups. Students, faculty, staff and alumni were surveyed at the beginning and then invited to participate in focus groups mid-way through the project. “It was clear from these groups that Redeemer and its brand meant a lot to the community. They were open to change and excited about something new, but they also wanted to maintain a connection to Redeemer’s rich heritage and unique identity,” said Josh Sieders, Acting Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communications.
The new brand refreshes the colours and uses cleaner, simpler shapes to modernize it and make it versatile for a digital age. The shield icon integrates an R and the shift in shape reveals a U to emphasize the university status while making it more unique to Redeemer. Overall, the logo maintains a shield and a cross, traditional serif typography and incorporates red and yellow to reference the former brand, but is elevated and made significantly different by the addition of a dark blue.
Modern logos are intended to identify organizations, rather than explain them. They are the hub of a visual identity system and are typically seen quickly, with few taking the time to analyze the finer details. The logo needs to capture the essence of an organization for a fast-paced, loud and digital marketplace. At the same time, a logo can tell a story, and when an audience is ready to look deeper, they can discover rich symbolism and underlying meaning or story.
The story of Redeemer’s new logo is that the world is changing rapidly and Redeemer is changing too, innovating within a Christian liberal arts mission to provide a relevant education for students today and tomorrow. The university is also strengthening its roots in the Reformed tradition, and that anchor and stability is pictured by the cross at the centre of a shifting shield. As things move around it, Jesus’ lordship over all of creation and every area of study at the university stands resolute and unchanging at the heart of it all. As a whole, the logo balances a modern, innovative future outlook, with a rich established academic and faith tradition.
The full academic crest with original shield, lamb, palm branches and motto will remain a part of the brand as a vital element that tells the story of the university’s history and founding mission and will be reserved for official academic implementations (e.g. graduation, degrees, etc.).
Redeemer Royals varsity sports also received a brand refresh during this process. The new Royals brand will launch separately in the coming weeks.
As Redeemer prepares to start the Fall 2020 term amidst a global pandemic, it’s fitting somehow, that a new brand launches in the middle of it. The first paragraph of the framework for operating in these circumstances states: “The COVID-19 pandemic has produced tragic loss, anxiety and a jarring interruption to plans, hopes and personal journeys. We believe God has a calling for everyone and following him in uncertain times is a part of that journey.” With this new brand, Redeemer steps boldly forward into an uncertain future, but a future where Jesus is king over every square inch.
To watch the launch video and see more of the new brand go to redeemer.ca/rebrand.