If there’s one symbol everyone knows Dalhousie for, it’s the distinctive eagle and shield. Taken from the university’s seal, the Dalhousie “coat of arms” has been a central part of the university’s logo for 35 years, visible on countless signs, posters, merchandise and websites.
But it hasn’t been exactly the same in those 35 years. Over time it has become more streamlined and simplified, and some details have changed form, as evolutions in Dal’s appearance have sought to align the university’s brand with a range of transformations – societal, physical , digital and everything in between.
To the left is the official seal of Dalhousie, from which the eagle and shield are taken. The following shields date respectively from 1989, 2004 and 2014.
“A brand is how we express ourselves to the world,” says Matt Proctor, Dalhousie’s assistant vice president of communications, marketing and creative services. “Our brand identity is made up of all the little cues that make someone think, ‘Hey, this looks like Dalhousie University.'”
This includes the logo, of course, but also so much more: fonts, colors, design patterns and even advice on how to express what makes Dalhousie unique to its constituents – which they seek to study at Dal , to work at Dal, to donate or volunteer, to associate or engage with the university in some other way.
“All of these brand elements combine to make Dalhousie recognizable wherever you meet us,” says Proctor.
That’s why Dalhousie’s new logo look – launched today as part of Dal’s latest brand refresh – is still instantly recognizable as the iconic eagle and shield. But its difference is emblematic of the brand’s overall approach to renewal: cleaner, simpler, better designed to meet the demands of an increasingly digital world and built around the latest web accessibility standards. Indeed, the new brand is presented as more accessible than before.
Learn more: The Dal brand
Dal Chairman Deep Saini said it was the perfect time for this “refresh” of the Dal brand – following the Dal 200 celebrations in 2018, the launch of the Third Century Promise last year’s strategic plan, and the growing demands for digitization that are changing the way people engage and raising the bar for accessibility.
“This is an exciting step as we move forward to fulfill our shared promise and show the world what Dalhousie has to offer,” said Dr. Saini.
A New Look at Dal’s Promise
Third Century Promise, Dal’s Strategic Plan asks what it would take to elevate Dalhousie into the community of the world’s top universities and outlines strategies to help achieve this ambitious goal. Alongside this work, the Communications, Marketing and Creative Services (CMC) team embarked on an update of the Dalhousie brand to match – a refined and refreshed expression of what sets Dalhousie apart and why it means so Many people.
“In the many conversations we’ve had over the past few months – with stakeholders on campus, in the community, with prospective students – we’ve heard the same things over and over again: a confidence in what Dalhousie is capable of. , and people want to hear us talk about it,” Proctor says. “They asked us to be bolder, to go further and to be more inclusive.”
Work with a local marketing agency M5the CMC team drew on existing and new research with key audiences and stakeholders to develop an updated visual brand identity, clearly defined positioning and distinct brand promise, all intended to shape and inform how students, partners and collaborators experience the university.
“In an increasingly digital world, brand assets need to work across platforms and be easily recognizable no matter where you encounter them,” says Damian Bonse, Executive Creative Director at M5. “This new brand takes all of that and combines it with the incredible life-changing moments, discoveries and insights that make Dalhousie University such a special place.”
The brand is built on a foundation of Third Century PromiseThe Five Pillars of Dalhousie and the Four Related Pillars of the Brand — aspects of Dalhousie that define and shape people’s experience with the university. These include:
- Research impact: A world of change begins at Dalhousie
- Academic Excellence: Designed to help bright minds excel
- Engaged community: Community is more than just the space we share
- Extraordinary place: A place filled with transformative moments
Based on this, the brand adds personality traits and a positioning statement describing what Dal can uniquely offer its students and communities. And at the top of the brand is its promise – a commitment that sets expectations of what people can expect from the university:
Dalhousie University is where endless ambition meets global impact
“It’s a place where unique experiences come together,” says Proctor. “Dal has no shortage of ways to bring the best of both worlds together, whether it’s its size, its focus on research and teaching, or the way it enables students to bridge the perspectives and disciplines.
make an impression
Why does a university have a brand in the first place?
The world is complex and crowded, and the ways people will experience or encounter Dalhousie and his work are also varied and complex. In this context, coherence and alignment are essential. Whether it’s an advertisement or a website, a brochure or a business card, the brand ensures that people recognize “Dalhousie University” when they see it.
To accomplish this, the Dalhousie brand refresh includes a comprehensive branding system designed with both alignment and flexibility in mind. Among the brand’s most innovative features is a new shape – dubbed the “Dalcon” (short for “Dalhousie icon”) – which is borrowed from the eagle in the logo and acts as a “brand mark” on the creative platform. And from colors to graphics, a focus on accessibility runs through every element.
“Especially as we work in an increasingly digital world, it’s critical that the way we communicate is accessible to everyone,” says Keri Irwin, Dalhousie’s Chief Marketing Officer. “That’s why we prioritized a more readable font, colors that better meet visual standards, and other changes that align with web content accessibility guidelines.”
Which brings us back to the logo itself. Since the way people experience the Dal logo can be as large as a billboard or as small as a smartwatch screen, the refreshed logo aligns with broader trends towards simplifying logos and design. With clean, rounded and geometric lines, the logo is more accessible and contemporary while meeting the requirements of digital communications. During testing, people told Dal’s project team that the refreshed logo was bolder, more dynamic, progressive, confident, engaging, unique, and gave a quality impression compared to other college logos. There is also, for the first time, a unique international version of the logo to position Dalhousie among its Canadian peers globally.
The revised logo will also serve as inspiration for two unique art projects commissioned to create more inclusion and diversity in Dal’s visual representation: one in partnership with the Mi’kmaq community and the other in partnership with the African Nova Scotian.
“While we always strive to create words and visuals that represent the diverse community that makes Dalhousie exceptional, we also recognize that we can do more,” says Julie Hallett, Associate Director of Brand and Marketing, who gives more details on artistic projects. will be shared in the coming weeks. “We are both grateful for these commitments and excited to see this work come to life over the next few months.”
Bring the brand to life
In addition to accessibility and inclusion, sustainability is also a priority for the new brand. CMC asks people to use existing branded materials before moving to new ones, saving both cost and paper/printing.
People will first see new branded media in digital spaces (because they’re the fastest and easiest to update), but soon they’ll start popping up in all sorts of other places. The MCC team would also like to receive assistance in identifying documents that should be updated. If you see anything that needs an update, you can let the team know by emailing [email protected]
Learn more: Discover the renewed Dal brand
Flashback File: Dal Logo Selection
In 1988, Dalhousie News published an article inviting members of the Dal community to mail — yes, old-fashioned mail — their views on what should be the Dalhousie logo.
The problem was the fact that there were over 90 different logos used by various faculties, departments and units. Howard Clark, president of the university at the time, said that in one day he received five letters with five different Dalhousie logos. “You’d swear they come from five different institutions,” he said.
Among the most interesting logos circulating at the time included various versions of squares and lines, a unicorn’s head – like the eagle and shield, also taken from the Dalhousie crest – and a trident.
A committee chaired by Dean of Medicine Jock Murray was tasked with sorting through the various options, and in 1989 the eagle and shield were officially part of Dal’s first standard logo.