Western University


Our work
Brand strategy, positioning and narrative
Identity design
Brand guidelines
Launch strategy
Communications planning
Brand film
Website development

Reimagining an Iconic Canadian Academic Institution

There is a loyalty and pride among Western grads that is unique among Canadian universities. Current and past, they share a common experience; one that is defined by community, collaboration, contribution, and accomplishment. It is an experience that lasts. We worked with Western to communicate this with a new brand strategy and identity defined by individual contribution and collective impact.

Western University, one of Canada’s oldest universities and a pillar in Canadian education, wanted to reset its brand strategy and identity to better reflect its evolution as a modern and dynamic institution. Its rich history did not adequately convey the university’s impact in the lives of its students and more broadly on society today. Our goal was to rejuvenate Western’s brand, authentically communicating its value and contribution in the world.

Right now, Western graduates are contributing to all levels of civil society, at scale. From private business to patient care, from courtroom defence to public policy, from arts leadership to venture investing, from new technologies to scientific discovery, and more. These individuals are part of a powerful legacy that continues each year, as thousands of students pursue education, research, and personal growth at Western.

As in all of our brand work, we took a deeply collaborative and empathetic approach. We started with actively listening and taking the time needed to fully understand the entire community and context. We collaborated with the Western community to define a shared vision through group sessions, material and reputation research, and meeting with 65 individuals important to the University’s success – including city officials, students, senior leadership, researchers, board members, professors, staff and alumni. This produced a collaboratively defined strategy that Western felt true ownership of, and which we could then express through design.

The identity update included a full refresh of the Western identity system that included an expanded colour palette and a new approach to photography and filmmaking. The system focuses on visually expressing the individual and collective impact that Western graduates are making through a flexible set of motifs that tie together across channels. 

This was all backed by a strategic communications plan and roadmap for the marketing and communications team. As part of this plan, we delivered two central communications pillars. We wrote, directed, and produced a short brand film tied to the launch, as well as conceived, designed, and executed a new initiative – The Impact Project – designed to showcase Western’s contribution to civil society at large.  

Partnering with the Pilot team has been a remarkable experience. Together, we’ve reimagined Western’s brand story and strategy, ensuring our legacy of community, innovation, and impact is clearer and more compelling than ever. Telling the Western story in a new way not only recharged our community pride but put a powerful spotlight on our collective commitment to excellence in research and education.

Adele Huffman
Executive Director, Brand Strategy & Integrated Marketing

All of these ideas were formalized in a comprehensive brand book designed to support the entire community with the roll-out of the new strategy. From faculties and departments to programs and Schools to marketing and advancement and everyone in between. We ensured the organization and its governing structures were in a position to be successful moving forward. 

Through this transformational journey, Western University has not only embraced a new brand voice but has also reinforced its stature as a leading light in education, ready to face the challenges of tomorrow with confidence and a renewed sense of purpose.

Next Story:


Hear the story

Hear how Story Design can align Brand with business strategy for your company.