Brand refinement project

Waterloo students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners have provided valuable input into Waterloo's brand refinement project. This helped us create strategic messaging, tools and guidelines that will assist us to more effectively share Waterloo's stories.

You can access Waterloo's refined brand guidelines, tools and templates on the Brand website

When initially introducing this project, Sandra Banks, Vice President of University Relations stated:

Waterloo has established a tremendous reputation over the years and our objective is to build on this. The post-secondary education landscape is becoming increasingly competitive and we know we must continue to be innovative in enhancing the University’s profile in local and global communities.

This will enhance our ability to share the transformational ideas, research and impact originating at Waterloo and will support our strategic goal to be recognized as one of the top innovation universities in the world.

The University’s logo with its distinctive shield, and the traditional University seal featured on diplomas and other official documentation, have not changed as part of this process.

During the project, the team consulted with a wide variety of campus stakeholders in briefings, interviews and meetings and worked with a campus-wide Advisory Group of 27 communications colleagues as well as senior leadership.

A campus engagement campaign took place to gather input from students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners via on campus and online activities. More than 2,200 responses were provided to help define our values, differentiaters and innovation at Waterloo.

If you wish to provide your input on this initiative, please share your thoughts on the website comment form

Project Objectives

  1. To build Waterloo’s reputation as one of the top innovation universities in the world by creating clearer understanding of what Waterloo is and does and positioning the University as distinctive.
  2. To achieve the greatest possible profile for Waterloo by developing and delivering strategic and effective marketing and communications programs.

Why now?

  • To stake claim to Waterloo's unique legacy in the midst of a crowded and competitive higher learning landscape.
  • To bolster and extend positive perceptions of Waterloo with key audience segments.
  • To continue to leverage our differentiating strengths:
    • Co-op / Experiential education;
    • Entrepreneurship; and
    • Transformational research.
  • To positively impact priority outcomes including recruitment, funding, partnerships, university rankings and co-op and graduate employment.
  • To build on brand and reputation results and insights including:
    • Positive growth regarding awareness, reputation and visibility;
    • Strong audience perceptions regarding innovation, co-operative education, connection to business and industry, and entrepreneurship; and                             
    • Recognition of our distinctive brand attributes: unique, innovative, connected, action-oriented, academic institution on the move and research with practical value.

Deliverables and timeline

Phase 1: Brand Strategy Platform

August - December 2015

Conducted and synthesized research, and implemented stakeholder engagement and collaboration in order to develop Waterloo's positioning, values, personality, tone and brand promise.

Phase 2: Brand Guidelines and Communications Campaign "Big Idea"

January - June 2016

Distilled the brand strategy platform into visual guidelines and a communications campaign concept to support cross-campus objectives and requirements.

Phase 3: Communications Campaign and Brand Guideline Implementation

July - December 2016

Developed and delivered a communications campaign approach including webpages, social media, paid media, campaign video, State of the University report and collateral applications. Implemented the brand website featuring refined brand guidelines, templates and tools for cross-campus use. University-wide application of the refined brand to communications began in January 2017. Contact Creative Services for help in translating the brand guidelines to your communications requirements.