The dinosaurs may be extinct, but the University of Calgary has ensured that the Dinos keep on evolving by officially unveiling their new logo to students on Wednesday, April 3 at the MacEwan Student Centre South Courtyard.
The Dinos have changed their logo several times throughout their over 40 year history as a university. The U of C introduced their first dinosaur logo in 1964 and has updated it four times since then. When the Jack Simpson Gym floor was installed, the logo was the rotund dinosaur from the 1980s.
The outgoing logo was introduced in 1998 and university staff believed that it was showing its age. The design complexity also made it difficult to embroider onto apparel.
The new identity was unveiled by Rex, the Dinos mascot, in a video in which he is inspired to take a trip to the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller to rediscover his roots. Returning to his dorm with a new take on life, Rex got to work on creating the new Dinos logo and proudly displayed the end result to students and staff who gathered to watch the unveiling.
The brand overhaul is centered on redesigning the Dinos current logo to reflect a more modern and updated image for the university’s athletics department. While still featuring a snarling dinosaur peering over the ‘Dinos’ lettering, the logo now has bolder features that simplify the overall look of the design.
U of C officials engaged with students in a series of focus groups to determine the direction they wanted to go with the new logo. According to assistant athletic director Ben Matchett, the feedback was almost unanimous.
“It needed to be fierce, it needed to be simple and it needed to be modern,” said Matchett. “When we went back and started on the actual design phase these were the guiding principals.”
The rebrand was funded by Quality Money, an initiative in which $1.6 million from the board of governors is designated for projects allocated by the Students’ Union. The decision to begin work on the project came during a September meeting between Matchett and U of C associate vice-president marketing Kim Lawrence, during which they determined that the timing was perfect for a Dinos brand refresh. With plans to replace the Jack Simpson Gymnasium floor already underway, the U of C had an opportunity to refurbish much more than the look of the basketball court.
“The current Dinos visual identity had become disparate across campus to the point where no team was actually using it consistently with any other team,” said Lawrence, referring to the spontaneous adoption of the interlocking ‘U’ and ‘C’ logo by several Dinos teams in recent years. While the interlocking letters will continue to serve their original purpose as a secondary logo, the university wanted to ensure the dinosaur was an integral part of the new identity.
“The new brand is meant to bring everybody back,” said Matchett, noting that no other academic institution in North America uses a dinosaur as a logo. “It’s a dinosaur, and that’s what we are. It really is unique and differentiates us from everybody else.”
While the new logo design is simple, it was crafted with careful attention to detail. U of C creative services director Scott Cressman visited the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller to consult with a paleontologist on the anatomy of a tyrannosaurus rex. The dinosaur in the logo has two fingers just like its extinct real-life counterpart.
Those involved with the development of the rebrand are hoping that the impact of the project goes further than a logo makeover. Cressman hopes that students will rally around the new identity even if they are not involved in campus athletics.
“We spoke with a group of non-athletic students and they really all wanted to be Dinos,” said Cressman, “but they didn’t necessarily feel like they were. We wanted to actually help make that possible.”
In addition to consulting U of C students on the Dinos rebrand, the entire project was done in-house without hiring an external design or marketing agency. Not only did this keep costs for the project to a minimum, according to Cressman it ensured that the new identity captured the wants and needs of university students and staff.
“Not going with an agency and really talking to people that understand the U of C experience and where we’re headed is really the best way to come up with a solution,” said Cressman. “Due to our process of inclusiveness, a lot of people had a say and it made for great results.”
This goal of unifying the campus around its athletic identity will be aided by the introduction of Nike as the exclusive supplier of athletic gear and merchandise to the U of C. This is the first time that the university has had an exclusive across-the-board deal for athletics with an apparel company. Until now each team selected its own apparel provider.
“This is just as big a part of this announcement as the identity itself,” said Matchett, adding that the merchandising clout of Nike makes students more likely to buy into the new identity and purchase Dinos gear adorned with the famous swoosh symbol.
Along with new Nike merchandise available for sale in the bookstore, students returning to campus next September can watch all the Dinos teams dressed in their fresh new uniforms featuring the redesigned logo.