RYERSON PIMPS ITS ‘RU’ BRAND

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By Shannon Higgins

Ryerson is hoping five new large-print ‘RU’ signs will help build brand recognition with baby boomers who stroll through campus. Adam Kahan, VP of University Advancement, said the school is focusing on reintroducing Ryerson to the generation that has yet to be exposed to the “new” Ryerson.

“High school students get it. They want to go here — just look at the number of applications. We are very intent on branding,” Kahan said.

The signs are just one in a series of planned projects focused on increasing campus branding. The improvement program was given a budget of $500,000 in 2006. Kahan said the program is focused on defining the university and creating a campus atmosphere where students and faculty are proud to be.

Along with 14 Ryerson waste bins and the new banners that mark the school’s territory, the signs are meant to beautify the campus and its build a positive reputation in the community.

The ‘RU’ symbol was chosen for its simplicity, said Kahan. “The point is to define the campus and create a presence in the precinct.” He said many of the proposed projects required city approval, and although the program had a slow start, much more is in the works.

The next move is to put Ryerson signs on the upper most points of Jorgenson Hall, the library building and the Toronto Life Centre on the Victoria Street side.

The five new ‘RU’ signs glow at night and have been mounted on the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre, the Rogers Communications Centre, the architecture building, the Sally Horsfall Eaton Centre and the Heidelberg Centre School of Graphics Communication.

Though Kahan said Ryerson has done an enormous amount of work branding in the last few years, he admits their budget is less than other Toronto universities.

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said the University of Toronto St. George campus is a model in trying to achieve a campus feel.

“I think there’s a lot we can do to give that feel, which is part of the idea when you want to close Gould Street,” he said. Alex Bilyk, a spokesperson from York University, said branding is important for universities to establish an individual identity.

“It’s a quick identifier and it stands for something,” said Bilyk. Second-year architecture students Dan Molnar and Ryan Donnelly have mixed feelings about the large signs.

“It gives us an identity. Somebody who’s never been to this school will know they’re on our campus,” Donnelly said.

But the two are uncertain about the unnatural use of ‘RU’. Rather than a quick, catchy way of representing Ryerson, Donnelly and Molnar said it sounds like a question.

“I’ve never heard anyone call Ryerson ‘RU’?” Molnar said.

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