Western University Rebranding Brings Transition to Light

The University of Western Ontario unveiled a campaign Thursday, January 26. Although the institution’s official name still remains the same, it will henceforth be referred to as Western University. The organizers of this rebranding movement hope that it will lead to more global recognition.

“Harvard isn’t just Harvard,” [President Amit Chakma] said. “It’s Harvard University. But you don’t have to say university. How long will it take Western to get there, I don’t know. Our goal is to become such a recognized brand that just Western means us.”

This rebranding movement has been the source of a lot of controversy amongst alumni and the student population. There’s also been a lot of conversation about the $200,000 that was spent on this initiative, the majority of which went into consulting.

The more tangible results of this project besides the new name consist of a new logo, a richer shade of purple, and a custom font designed by font wiz Ian Brignell.

Chakma was once VP of the University of Waterloo, and watched it blossom into a bit of an international force itself. This is due largely in part to its famous co-op program and its reputation for being well-connected to the high-tech industry (and being partners with RIM and Microsoft certainly helped). Along with the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, and McGill University, the which was also met with conflict.

The University of Western Ontario’s branding exercise returns it to its roots (as it was once known as Western University of London Ontario), and simultaneously explicitly marks the transition of numerous changes in the school system. This includes increasing international student enrolment, putting more resources into the Brain and Mind Institute, and even a good ol’ unconference to generate more ideas for change.

ChangeCamp Western will be taking place on February 4, and will be the place where students, professors, and alumni find out more about current issues and future goals for the school campus.

It’s interesting to see the changes Western has adopted. Earlier this year, the launch of BizInc. marked the development of the first business incubator at Western. Similarly, the use of an unconference instead of just an ordinary press release or speech means that Western plans to directly engage students, and perhaps will be willing to hear the student population’s concerns and questions.

As a Western student myself, I can’t say I’m too jazzed about the changes to the name and logo and graphics and all. They’re just a visual change, a small piece of the whole movement. Nonetheless, it’s pretty exciting to be part of a university that has set its eyes on such an ambitious goal.