Athabasca University Launches New Brand Everywhere

Athabasca University Launches New Brand Everywhere

September 23, 2013 (Alberta) – Open, accessible, and a made-in-Alberta first: Athabasca University has unveiled its new brand strategy, complete with an entirely new look and design for its online and printed materials. Created by brand strategy firm ZGM Collaborative Marketing, the new brand is designed to solidify AU’s position as Canada’s leading source for open and online post-secondary education.

“Competition has increased from traditional universities now offering online opportunities,” said Nancy Biamonte, AU’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “It was time to send out a strong message that AU has led innovations in distance and online learning for more than 40 years. AU is the benchmark that others measure themselves against. While working with ZGM Collaborative Marketing 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.”

The project, launched today, is the result of more than two years of research, consultation and design involving all employees and stakeholders at the university.


“This was a very exciting project for our brand strategy team,” said Michael Donovan, Managing Director and Creative Director, ZGM Collaborative Marketing, who led the rebranding project. “The challenge was to reposition AU as the leader in online and distance education. Since inception over four decades ago, many competitors have cropped up; but no one has the record that AU does, nor the ability to lead the space going into the future. As Canada’s first open University, we wanted to show this powerful idea in a new, simple and strong way, which is why we chose an open shield for the new logo: AU is open for learning, a portal to where you want to go and who you want to be. We then wanted to support the ideas of openness and accessibility in our online and offline advertising to tell the story that no matter where you are in the world, no matter at what stage you are in your life, no matter who you are, you can access AU to get from where you are today to where you want to be. AU helps you realize your educational and career aspirations by being with you, wherever you are, with the best systems and the best faculty you’ll find anywhere. With this new brand and new marketing materials we are re-establishing the true leadership position the University has held for some 40 years. We are incredibly happy with the result and the extremely positive feedback from alumni, students, and faculty to date.


“This is one of the most important projects in the history of Athabasca University, one that re-establishes its leadership position, and one that will help grow stronger awareness for the University globally. In this way, this is not only good for AU, it’s good for Alberta when we’re talking about Alberta-made solutions that help to attract awareness and interest to our province. So in my view this has wider implications beyond increasing enrolment. It tells a story of Alberta innovation, which helps us train and attract an educated workforce. AU is really at the forefront of this: helping to build awareness of Alberta around the world, and addressing Alberta’s ‘brain drain’ as it increases enrolment year over year in much needed occupations. From this perspective, this is a great win for AU and for the province of Alberta. We’re extremely proud to have been chosen for this historic project.”


To find out more about the new AU and the new brand, watch our new brand video.


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If you would like more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Nancy Biamonte

Director, Marketing and Communication

Athabasca University


Michael Donovan

Managing Director/Creative Director

ZGM Collaborative Marketing



About ZGM Collaborative Marketing

ZGM Collaborative Marketing, founded in Calgary in 1999, is an integrated, full-service marketing communications agency with a strong belief in the power of collaboration and internal culture. Clients include Western Financial Group, Fountain Tire, Government of Alberta, Market Mall, Jayman MasterBuilt, and Alberta Health Services. The agency recently acquired the Edmonton-based brand strategy firm DONOVAN Creative to add to the client roster such organizations as the Oakland International Airport, Hamilton International Airport, City of Edmonton, Alberta Fire Chiefs Association, Continuing Care Safety Association, Telus World of Science, and Athabasca University. For more, visit


About Athabasca University

Athabasca University, Canada’s Open University, is dedicated to the removal of barriers that restrict access to and success in university-level study and to increasing equality of educational opportunity for adult learners worldwide. Four key principles guide AU: Excellence; openness; flexibility; and innovation. For more visit





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