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Identity FAQs

This FAQ was last updated on January 12, 2017.


Impact on various logos used across campus

Updating materials

Using the refreshed logo and identity elements

Stationery questions

Advertising and signage

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Q. What is a visual identity system? Is it the same as a brand?

A.  Visual identity is about packaging. It involves strategically defining and consistently applying graphics (logo, layout themes, colours, etc.) across many types of media to generate a strong, consistent and distinct visual memory, which ultimately yields top-of-mind recognition within our target audiences (e.g. students, prospective faculty, future employees, industry partners, donors, alumni etc.).

Identity is an important aspect of branding but is not the same thing. Branding is the complete process of developing a perception about our university. It incorporates visual design but also includes public messaging and media relations, marketing strategy informed by research, advertising, community engagement, user experience, etc. A brand is the full promise of who we are, what we aspire to be and how our constituencies perceive us.

Q. Why does the University of Calgary need a visual identity?

A. The university competes provincially, nationally and internationally for resources, students and attention. Our visual presentation is currently fragmented, ineffective and inefficient. Sending mixed visual messages, confusing images or a fragmented view of the university puts the university at a disadvantage in that competitive space. The impact of all residents of a city-sized community communicating using the same visual language is incredibly powerful. Right now, we are the equivalent of many individual neighbourhoods competing for attention from the same audience.

Q: Why has our visual identity changed?

A: The University of Calgary has been sending mixed visual messages, confusing images and a fragmented view of itself. The refreshed system introduces a more logically structured and streamlined visual approach to how the university presents itself and its work to the world. The primary objective of this change is to embrace the commitment to creating “one university family.” The Academic Plan – part of the roadmap to achieving our Eyes High goals – highlights the need to work together to create a shared future and unified environment on campus. Simplifying our visual identity system is an important and practical shift in this direction. 

Q: Was it really necessary to update the actual design of our logo graphic?

A: Yes.The refined logo graphic system corrects long-standing reproduction challenges with the current university identity; reflects a bolder, more vibrant personality;  and establishes a clean, unified presence across all channels (digital, print, merchandise, etc.). The updates respect the legacy of our official coat of arms while simplifying and emboldening its presence as part of the university’s logo structure. Read more about the evolution of our logo over time Note: the traditional coat of arms and the official academic seal, as used in ceremonial events and on official university-issued credentials, will remain unchanged.

Q. What was the process?

A. Following an internal audit of our current identity and the challenges associated with it, the Marketing department (University Relations division) developed a proposal and presented it to the university’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT). ELT endorsed the direction and the request to begin broad consultation with key stakeholder groups in the university’s extended community. Between early May and late June 2013, dozens of consultations happened across campus, with groups representing all of the university’s key stakeholder groups, including students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and leadership teams (e.g. Deans’ Council, General Faculties Council, Vice-Presidents of all business portfolios and their directors, and identity super-users on campus such as the Campus Bookstore). On June 26, 2013, the system – refined with feedback from the consultation process – was presented to the university’s Board of Governors and received final approval. Over the summer of 2013, guidelines, templates and tools were developed in anticipation of initial use beginning on September 3, 2013.

Q: Do I have to throw away or replace every piece of material I have that carries the old version of the university identity today?

A: No. One of the basic principles of this process is that it is being implemented in a financially responsible manner as an ‘evolution’ (change over time) rather than a ‘revolution’ (change in one fell swoop). You should take every opportunity as your refresh or re-order cycles occur to update your materials. Do not produce any new materials unless they carry the revised identity.

Q:  When should I use the faculty or unit lock-up and when should I not?

A:  Our strategic objective is to represent all entities within the university as part of a single, united ‘family’. The majority of the time, the only graphic representation necessary to represent our activities is the primary University of Calgary logo. Faculty and department sub-brand graphics are available for use in select situations where it becomes critical to isolate the structural entity.

The following bullets give basic guidance on when to use or not to use a faculty or unit sub-brand:


  • Letterhead (print or digital): use university letterhead with customized return address block
  • Envelopes: use university letterhead with customized return address block
  • Business cards: use university standard with customized content for personal affiliation
  • Web site: use university crest and standard templates with navigation/header text to reflect faculty
  • As one of multiple campus entities sponsoring/supporting an event: use primary logo with text identifiers for all involved entities
  • Community-facing programs (e.g. Continuing Education, summer camps etc.): use the university logo and explain the organization in supporting text


  • Partnerships between the specific faculty and another discipline-specific entity (e.g. the Faculty of Kinesiology and Be Fit for Life)
  • Discipline-specific conference presence/promotions (e.g. the Department of Physics and the World Congress of Physicists)
  • Team merchandise/certificates/giftware (e.g. coffee mugs or training completion certificates for the Office of Sustainability)
  • Direct, specific recognition (e.g. visual profile on a display board in a discipline-related clinic or gallery)
  • As context for very specific initiatives (e.g. The Hotchkiss Brain Institute is connected to the Faculty of Medicine)
  • On internal function- or discipline-specific documentation (e.g. training handbook for the Department of Geography, Faculty of Arts)

Q: I work in an academic department that has had its own graphic logo for many years. Can we keep it?

A: Academic departments do not require logos that are distinct from that of the university. Over the years, in the absence of any structure or detailed guidelines, some have been created. With the endorsement of the Deans’ Council in place, we will be phasing out all independent academic department logos in order to maximize the consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness of our visual communications. A consistent visual identity will greatly enhance our ability to communicate effectively about our value to students, parents, alumni, donors, and others who can support our success. Please refer to the Visual Identity Guidelines Identity Basics chapter to better understand how an academic faculty can be positioned in relation to the university identity. Guidance is available for those instances where a department wishes to identify itself on team merchandise or in situations where it is providing targeted sponsorship of an activity.

Q: I work with a business unit that has its own graphic logo. Can we keep it?

A: Business units that support the university’s operations do not require logos that are distinct from that of the university. Over the years, in the absence of any structure or detailed guidelines, some have been created. With the approval of the Board of Governors in place, we will be phasing out all independent business unit logos in order to maximize the consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness of our visual communications. A consistent visual identity will greatly enhance the ability of these units to communicate effectively about their value and credibility as a functional unit of the university.

Please refer to the Visual Identity Guidelines, Identity Basics chapter to better understand how a business unit can be positioned in relation to the university identity. Guidance is available for those instances where departments or structural groups wish to identify themselves on team merchandise or in situations where they are providing specific sponsorship of an activity.

Q: I work with a centre or institute that has its own graphic logo. Can we keep it?

A: There are many types of centres and institutes on campus, including those that have been formally created and those that have formed organically, those that are exclusive to the University of Calgary and those that are partnerships formed jointly with other organizations. Over the years, in the absence of any structure or detailed guidelines, many centres and institutes have created their own visual identities. In many cases, these identities do not reference the group’s connection to the university at all, nor are they legally protected marks.

The structure and management of centres and institutes on campus is currently under review, which may result in changes to how they present themselves in relation to the university. The bulk of university-based centres and institutes will ultimately be expected to operate under the same identity guidelines and hierarchy as other structural groups. There will be specific exceptions for large research institutes that present a strong business case for creating and sustaining a distinct identity. Even in those cases, there will be guidance in place for how the university identity should appear. The complexity of identity surrounding centres and institutes will be addressed in detail in the coming year, and will involve detailed discussion. In the meantime, if you have the opportunity to embrace the new structure and have no concerns about doing so, please proceed. Questions can be directed to

Q: How do I get letterhead and business cards now? Will they look different?

A: West Canadian Digital Imaging operates the printshop on campus and supplies letterhead and business cards. They are also ready to assist you in printing business collateral featuring the revised visual identity. There is now a single system of stationery for the entire campus community. Review the system – and all stationery templates available – in the Visual Identity Guidelines, Stationery chapter. Orders can be made online.  Any requests for exceptions will be documented by West Canadian and discussed with University Relations.

Q: We have our logo on a lot of things, such as t-shirts, vests, polo shirts, tablecloths, as well as all of our brochures that we’ve already ordered in bulk and use on a regular basis. Is there going to be a definite deadline/timeline for us to stop using these items with our old logo and update with the new visual identity? Will there be a grace period?

A: This is an evolution. There will be a grace period to phase out existing supplies in order to minimize the cost associated with applying the revised visual identity across the university. Please make the change when you do your next order, and request help if you need it.

Q: There will be a cost to replacing things like shirts, tablecloths, etc. Will there be any funding assistance from the university to replace these items?

A: We realize that this is an issue, but there is currently no incremental funding available to offset the costs of replacing items with the refreshed visual identity. Please make the change when you do your next order, and request help if you need it.

Q: Where can I download the revised logo?

A: Complete our online form to request the specific format of logo you require (files are available in formats suitable for profession print, desktop application use, web, display and broadcast, in multiple colour spaces). You can also take this opportunity to ask questions about your specific application. Please do not scan logos from other reproductions or copy them from the web. Reproduction quality will suffer if you do. Also, remember that it is not acceptable to "build" the logo on your computer. If you need assistance in downloading a usable file, contact .

Q: How do I place the new logo in Microsoft Word?

A: First, consider starting with the basic document template we have provided for download. If you plan to insert the logo into a Word document yourself, we recommend using the high-resolution JPEG files (in colour or black-only, as needed). Save the logo to your hard drive, open your Word file, and then insert the saved logo (as a ‘picture’) into your document. You may want to insert it into a text box so that you can move it around easily (remember to remove the default line from around the text box if you do this). You will have to scale the logo to the desired size. To do this without stretching or skewing the graphic, hold down the Ctrl key as you drag the corner of the image box to the desired size.

Q: I use a lot of forms and documents with the logo currently on it.  What do I do?

A: Update your documents over time as you are able and connect with if you need guidance.  Replace the logo wherever it appears and consider changing the body font of your document to Calibri. 

Q: I'm in a hurry. Why can't I just recreate the logo myself?

A: Recreating the logo will not reproduce the logo accurately. The logo is created from characters designed specifically for university use; the characters have specific spatial relationships and alignment. Simply selecting a similar font, eyeballing it and then reproducing it will invariably produce differences that may be minor, but will detract from the design. Recreating the logo also takes time that might be used more productively.

Q: Can I use the words in the logo separate from the shield portion?

A: No, this is not acceptable usage. There are a few very specific situations in which the Campus Bookstore has some flexibility with the logo treatment but they are the only group permitted to do this and they work closely with University Relations on each application to ensure its integrity.

Q: What are the colours in the logo?

A: The official University of Calgary colours are red and gold.  Read the Visual Identity Guidelines, Identity Basics chapter for details on colour specifications.

Q: How do I change the colour of the logo to match my document?

A: You don't, although you may choose to use a single-colour version (black or white). Read the Visual Identity Guidelines, Identity Basics chapter for details on colour specifications.

Q: Do I have to change to the revised logo? I don’t like it.

A: Yes. The revised branding system replaces the old crest logo and related insignia. As our evolution progresses, those graphics should be considered obsolete and no longer be used, except in an historical context. Regardless of personal opinion – and there will always be differing sentiments on graphic decisions – this revised logo has been approved for use across the institution.

Q: What has happened to the official academic seal of the university? Are you changing our original coat of arms?

A: The academic seal remains unchanged and will continue to be used for ceremonial and official purposes only (e.g. on parchments for graduates). It features our original coat of arms, issued to us in 1966, which will also never change but is also only used for ceremonial purposes.

Q: May I use the university's seal?

A: The seal may only be used on official university academic documents, such as parchments, diplomas and transcripts, and collateral associated with Convocation. It may never be used as a substitute for the university logo. Permission to use the seal must be requested of the Office of the Registrar. Do not scan the seal from old documents. It will result in poor-quality reproduction.

Q: I am launching a new program/project and I need a logo for it. Who can create it for me?

A: There is generally very little need for a program or project at the university to have a separate identity that is totally distinct from that of the university. There is a treatment that can be used to connect your program or project to the master university logo (read about it in the Visual Identity Guidelines, Identity Basics chapter).  Contact if you feel you require use of this treatment. In the case of a few programs that have longstanding symbols already entrenched with the audience, permission may be granted to continue use of the proprietary logo as a secondary graphic element. Please contact if you feel this applies to you.

Q: I am having a fun, spirit-oriented event and it doesn’t seem appropriate to use the formal university logo. Do I have any options?

A:  Yes. You may use the interlocking UC spirit mark, a more casual, spirit-oriented graphic.  Read about how to use the UC spirit mark in the Visual Identity Guidelines, UC Interlocking Monogram chapter.

Q. How do I get the fonts?

A: Read the Visual Identity Guidelines, Identity Basics chapter for details on the university typefaces (Gotham and Georgia). These typefaces are for design purposes only; designers building files for the university will have to purchase a licence to use them. Employees are not expected to use these typefaces on a daily basis for business communication or presentations: use a standard system font (we recommend Calibri [sans serif] or Georgia [serif typeface]) for day-to-day use.

Q: When I'm typing a letter or memo, do I have to use Gotham, or can I use another typeface?

A: The suggested typefaces in the visual identity guidelines are for professionally designed documents intended for external use. You are not bound to use any particular typeface for the body text. Calibri is suggested in order to maximize readability, but other standard fonts may also be used. Please avoid using cute or trendy fonts such as Comic Sans, Copperplate, script fonts or anything that would not represent the university with dignity.

Q: How do I fit all the information I need on a business card?

A: A business card is designed to convey your relationship to your employer and communicate how to find you in the physical and digital domains. Consider carefully how much information really needs to be on your card. There is a treatment for a double-sided card when an individual has multiple appointments across the university, when there is a special connection with a centre or institute that will be maintaining its legacy brand for proven business reasons, or when multilingual communication is required.  When you order your cards through West Canadian please specify any exceptions you feel may be necessary but be prepared to explain your case thoroughly.

Q: May I revise the letterhead design? What about the digital letterhead?

A: The basic layout of the university letterhead and digital letterhead may not be redesigned. There is a special treatment for handling legacy brands as required.

Q: I still have a box of stationery and a lot of business cards left. Do I have to change them all to reflect the revised logo?

A: Eventually, yes. But to be fiscally and environmentally responsible, use as much of your old inventory as possible before ordering new supplies.

Q:  I need to create and submit an advertisement. What do I do?

A: Start by contacting your faculty or unit communications staff and referencing our Visual Identity Guidelines, Advertising chapter. All external-facing advertising must be reviewed by University Relations before being placed, given that it has direct reputational impact on the university as a whole.

Q: Are there any standards for signs that need to be made for either the interior or exterior of buildings?

A: Yes. If you need a sign made for either the interior or exterior of a building, consult first with the University Architect’s office, which manages the relationship with the university’s signage contractor. Signs need to include the proper logo and will need to conform to specific design requirements. Do not order signage without checking in first. Got a question that’s not answered here? Email it to