Capilano University rebranding


Capilano University
North Vancouver, British Columbia


Capilano University had a challenge with its existing brand. Previously a community college, it became a university in 2008. But people still thought of it as a college. Founded in 1968, Capilano was created to serve the surrounding community with post-secondary education. It grew to serve the entire community, including local Indigenous groups and developed a reputation for innovative programs with a strength in creative arts such as film and design. Leading up to its 50th Anniversary, Capilano University needed to reinforce its position as an experiential university developing creative leaders.

Capilano University Logo on wall

Listening and collaborating to craft a brand that is truly meaningful

Ion conducted five brand definition workshops with over 200 faculty, staff and students and solicited over 300 responses online. We walked participants through a series of exercises to help them define the way they saw the university growing and changing to meet the challenges of the next 50 years. What we heard from hundreds of people shaped the Brand Goal and Objectives, Key Messages and Brand Essence – Capilano University is Confident. Unified. Creative. Enduring. Luminous.

Through a collaborative process with the University as well as First Nations student representatives, advisors and Elders, we worked through dozens of iterations to craft a logo that speaks to the University’s unique status and offerings with symbolism that is both inclusive and meaningful for all.

The colour palette is reminiscent of the University’s setting between sea and sky and the influences of nature universally appreciated by everyone on campus. The shape of the mark is emblematic of an eagle’s wing, which in Coast Salish culture is a symbol of wisdom and leadership. The lines, arcs and angles represent pathways of peaceful co-existence, which disrupt the traditional crest shape, fusing it with Coast Salish art to create a modern and abstract treatment. The combination of these forms creates a vibrant, totally unique symbol in the post-secondary landscape that speaks to the multi-faceted character of higher experiential learning.

Capilano University Logo Process
Capilano University Event Ball
Capilano University Campaign
Capilano University Sign
Capilano University Logo on table cloth
Capilano University Campaign Bus Shelter
Capilano University Campaign Bus Tail Ad

A robust identity system and campaign creative

Beyond the logo, the brand story and language assist Capilano University staff work with the brand on a day-to-day basis. This included photographic subject matter and style, brand tone and speaking points in addition to report and viewbook to posters and stationery templates. A brand campaign followed the brand launch using “here” as the underlying theme to promote the University’s programs and campus experience. We also developed three years of recruitment campaigns and the 50th Anniversary campaign.

Capilano University Viewbook
Capilano University Viewbook
Capilano University Grad Cap
Capilano University Logo Podium
Capilano University Stationery

“Students, staff and partners in the community have told us they love our new brand and find it powerful and welcoming.”

Capilano University has been fortunate to benefit from your award-winning approaches to our identity and outreach. Your articulation of the uniqueness of CapU has created a brand that is rich in resonant messages and imagery that will stand the test of time. You have made you mark on Capilano University and its history. We are proud to work with you and grateful for your understanding and support of our commitment to students. May you continue to thrive and bring forward original and inspiring ideas for years to come.

— Paul Dangerfield, President of Capilano University