Eagle-inspired logo ruffles feathers in the best possible way
Andy Rice // Editor-in-Chief
As several hundred students, faculty and guest dignitaries crowded into the Lower Cafeteria on Nov. 24 for their first glimpse at Capilano University’s new logo, the anticipation was palpable.
After all, the project had been nearly a year in the making, carefully crafted through months of consultation between the campus community, local First Nations and Ion Brand Design. Many who were involved behind the scenes have alluded to the myriad of revisions, changes and tweaks that were made, right up until its approval by the Board of Governors on Nov. 8 — but when Irine Chanin, CapU’s executive director of advancement, stepped up to the microphone just after noon, it was clear the University had reached common ground regarding its new identity.
“It’s been quite the expedition,” she remarked from the podium, “Full of twists, turns and revelations as we delved into who we are, and how we are all connected through our CapU experience. Along the way, we forged new relationships and a new understanding of one another. I believe we found a way to honour our past, respect our present and declare our ambitions for the future.”
CapU’s new logo features a swath of primary colours, representing the ocean, forest and mountain setting in which the University’s campuses are located. Its shape eschews the traditional crest used by many post-secondary institutions around the world, opting instead to feather the edges as a nod to the mighty eagle that is so prominent in Coast Salish art and culture. Three golden hues make up the logo’s top-right corner, where two white lines emerge downward. They represent to pathways of peaceful coexistence — not the slashing of programs in CapU’s recent past, as one student muttered at the reveal — suggesting that the two will eventually intersect one day. Underneath the symbol, a modern sans-serif typeface ties the brand together.
“I think that it’s a good, bold new vision for the future,” said Jullian Kolstee, vice president of university relations and services for the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU). “I really appreciated how they incorporated feedback that we gave them in the summer when they were going through the review process of some of the final drafts of it.”
Kolstee explained how initially he and the school’s First Nations advisors took issue with some of the elements that did not adequately include First Nations imagery or artists. However, “that feedback was delivered, it was received,” he said. “That led to further consultation with First Nations elders and First Nations artists are now contributing to the logo that we see, that they went with.”
Ion collaborated with Squamish/Nisga’a artist Marissa Nahanee and Tsleil-Waututh artist Jordan Gallie to come up with the final result – a contribution that was noted by CapU president Paul Dangerfield. “Your insights and creative contribution helped us shape and transform the symbol into meaning,” he said during a speech at the reveal. “I understand you have both studied at Cap, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one day you came back to teach here.”
Dangerfield explained that it would take approximately nine months to fully implement the brand across all platforms, including the university’s website, signage and documentation. “We are aiming for September 2017,” he said, which would see the project completed before the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2018.
“When all this began, we didn’t really know how far or how deep we were going to go,” he added, “But there was an overwhelming desire that came through the stakeholder engagement process to more boldly assert ourselves as a university.”
To some, however, that boldness may have backfired. In the hours immediately following the reveal, social media was abuzz with a flurry of opinions and criticisms comparing CapU’s new logo to Toucan Sam, Windows 98, NBC, MLS Soccer and a technicolour guitar pick.
“Our brand came from careful study and research, input, observations and conversations — some very memorable conversations — across the University,” said Dangerfield. “And then there was the thinking, the creation, and many attempts left on the cutting room floor, before we got it right. And all the while we were doing that, we were building community.”
“After almost 50 years, you’d think we’d know ourselves, and we do,” remarked Chanin. “We discovered that we are rich in diversity and united by some powerful values.” And really, at the end of the day, what could be more metaphorical of a university than a logo that encourages dialogue and discussion between people of contrasting opinions?
To learn more about CapU’s new brand and the story behind it, visit CapilanoU.ca/BrandStory.