UBC Brand Visual Identity Program
The University of British Columbia*
When the new brand platform, ‘a place of mind,’ was handed over by the agency, UBC had no coherent visual identity on which to anchor it. There were 14+ official logo configurations that included versions for UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan. As there was no mandate to create an entirely new visual identity for the university, the design strategy required a sensitive refresh of the existing elements. Within an uncommonly short timeframe of four months, UBC Brand Assets, Applications, Guidelines and Templates were produced to support the launch of the new tagline. The larger vision was to increase the profile and reputation of UBC as a tier one, international research-intensive university and to create a renewed sense of affinity, pride and connection to the university locally, nationally and internationally.
The design solution retained those elements with the greatest visual equity (the logo and the colour blue) and introduced a place of mind. UBC had never developed an integrated design system for communications at the enterprise level. By courageously resisting the short-view push-back for more one-offs, a deliberate systems approach provided strategic design solutions in key communication areas from web and digital signage to stationery and publications. The UBC Brand Guidelines Preview signalled a call to faculty, staff, students, alumni, partners, consultants and members of the community to create fresh, relevant and intelligent interpretations that would evolve the UBC Brand.
Reclaiming UBC Blue
UBC is Blue but somehow the communication materials were losing this connection. UBC Blue and a crisp White were reclaimed as core elements. A deeper and more formal navy blue was selected for the refresh that would better reflect the tier one brand.
The visual identity program (a brand retrofit) included a UBC Wordmark, a UBC Signature and Unit Signatures for Schools, Faculties and Departments, a Tagline, a new institutional Typeface called Whitney and new institutional Colours (UBC Blue and UBC Grey) The lemon yellow interpreted as gold was reserved for formal and ceremonial purposes, and the (college blue) and gold (lemon yellow) ‘school colours’ remained for Athletics.
* A Note from Arlene
This project was created during my five years as Design Manager for UBC Communications and Marketing (previously Public Affairs). During that time we pioneered and developed a series of design systems (and programs) that built a solid foundation for a unified UBC Brand. This project was designed in collaboration with my colleague Ping Ki Chan, another systems thinker.
Photograph of UBC Brand Guidelines, media centre and development sign by Martin Dee | UBC © 2017
Garbage truck photograph by Ping Ki Chan © 2017
Visual Identity System