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OPPORTUNITY

With over 40,000 students from around the world, AU is Canada’s leader in distance and online education. The university has an over forty-year history of firsts in educational excellence and innovation, in areas of publishing, research, and post-secondary studies of all kinds.

Many competitors have cropped up in the distance education and online learning space, including leading Canadian and American Universities. While AU has a strong history of leadership and innovation, this reputation had waned some in recent years because of competitive pressures, aging technologies, and budget cutbacks that, in sum, has had an effect on the erosion of the brand.

Rebranding Athabasca University was a strategic move to reinvigorate the image of the university and
more purposefully and strongly position it against upstart competition. We re-established the leadership position it had enjoyed, and told the story that innovation is at the centre of the university’s philosophy.

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METHOD

AU is everywhere you are, and can take you everywhere you want to be; AU is always focused on the future of learning, leading the way with new technologies, new ways of delivering services and engaging with learners, and evolving new and innovative ways of thinking that influence the way that learning is delivered online.

We developed a new brand mark, positioning statement, website redevelopment (with a view to enhancements in the next fiscal year), a full marketing and media strategy, ad materials of all kinds, and an online brand launch video. For AU we followed our proven branding method, which sought to establish internal and external perceptions of the brand, internal buy in through a fully facilitated process, all the way though to internal and external launch of the brand.

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RESULTS

Within the first year of Donovan launching the new AU brand, international enrollment increased 6%.

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DONOVAN SETS THE BAR WITH ATHABASCA UNIVERSITY

"It was time to send out a strong message that AU has led innovations in distance and online learning for more than 40 years," said Nancy Biamonte, Director of Marketing and Communications. "AU is the benchmark that others measure themselves against. While working with Donovan Creative Communications on the branding project, we kept coming back to the idea that AU represents the future of learning; open and accessible university education for everyone, everywhere. This was the foundation that led to the open shield symbol - show rather than tell the concept of open accessible learning balanced with academic excellence and history."