Lakehead University Branding and Marketing Project

What is a brand?

A brand is a promise to deliver value. It has to stand for something that is credible, compelling, engaging, and differentiating – for all key audiences – in order to drive the desired perceptions, behaviours, and attributes. It also has to be relevant across the internal organization in order for all employees to deliver on this promise or it will lack credibility.

Branding identifies and articulates an organization’s core promise which it holds out to itself and all its stakeholders. It is not a logo, a tagline, or a product. It is the emotional, physical, and intangible attribute that defines the organization in a unique manner. A university’s brand is built up through an integrated and complex web of communications and interactions.

Why is branding important for Lakehead?

Lakehead needs to stand out in a competitive marketplace. Our challenge is to define a compelling and emotionally engaging position that resonates with students, prospects, parents, faculty/staff, and alumni.

The brand must be bold and memorable. It must also be integrated.

Unsuccessful brands sit on top of organizations like an oil slick, communicating a message that in reality is not supported by the organization’s behaviour.

Strong brands are emulsified, completed absorbed within the organization and define behaviour, planning, choices, and value delivery.

Who are the branding and marketing consultants?

Fifty Strategy + Creative is an Ottawa-based branding and marketing firm that was one of 16 agencies who submitted a proposal in response to Lakehead’s  RFP for Institutional Branding, Visual Identity Guidelines, and Marketing Strategy, Plan, and Implementation published in February 2012.

What are the goals and objectives of the project?

The Branding and Marketing Project will help Lakehead University achieve its long-term marketing goals:

  • To increase overall enrolment at both its Thunder Bay and Orillia campuses
  • To redefine and reposition the Lakehead University brand and establish its point of differentiation among its competitors 
  • To increase brand awareness and recognition in Southern Ontario and beyond
  • To generate ongoing donor and alumni support for its major initiatives
  • To draw positive attention to the University’s contributions – particularly its economic impact – to the development of the Northwestern Ontario region and Simcoe County and surrounding areas

Who is coordinating the Branding and Marketing Project?

Deb Comuzzi will lead this critical initiative and a new Communications Committee will be staff resourced by Frances Harding.

Will Faculty and Staff get the chance to be involved in the development of the new brand?

Yes. The project will be guided by input from a Communications Committee comprised of staff and faculty from both campuses.

All members of the University community are invited to share their ideas, comments, and suggestions by email:

Communications Committee Members:

  • Cheryl Balacko, Textbook Supervisor, Lakehead U Bookstore
  • Emma Brightwell, President, Lakehead U Student Union
  • Sarah Browne, Research Analyst/Survey Specialist, Institutional Analysis & Government Relations
  • Frank Capadoccia, Associate Vice-Provost, Orillia Campus
  • Jennifer Childs, Manager, Advancement
  • Judy Flett, Aboriginal Education Program Coordinator
  • Toby Goodfellow, Director, Media Relations
  • David Hare, Director, Residence and Conference Services
  • Andrea Huillery, Director, Admissions and Recruitment
  • Kathy Hunt, Communications Officer, Orillia Campus
  • Bill Keeler, President, Alumni Association of Lakehead University
  • Dr. Alice Den Otter, Associate Prof. Interdisciplinary Studies and Assistant Dean, Orillia Campus
  • Robert Perrier, Manager, Undergraduate Recruitment
  • Dr. Todd Randall, Chair, Department of Geography
  • Marian Ryks-Szelekovszky, Vice-Provost (Student Affairs)
  • Dr. Gillian Siddall, Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities
  • Tove Tronslien, Manager, Web Development Services
  • Dr. Beatrice Vernier-Larochette, Chair, Department of Languages
  • Tom Warden, Director, Athletics
  • Tony Williams, Advisor, International
  • Gwen Wojda, Director, CEDL, Continuing Education and Distributed Learning
  • Deb Comuzzi, Vice-President, External Relations (Chair)
  • Frances Harding, Manager, Marketing Support (Staff support to the Communications Committee)

Internal and External Stakeholder Focus Groups:


Since June 2012, Lakehead has conducted more than 60 interviews, focus groups, and meetings with students, alumni, staff, faculty, donors, and external stakeholders. A new Brand Framework, developed by Fifty, has been approved by the President. Lakehead is now in the process of preparing new Visual Identity Guidelines in preparation for the implementation of the new Brand during the fall of 2013.

Our brand will articulate why Lakehead is a preferred destination school in a way that is consistent, credible, differentiated, compelling, and engaging.

How will the work unfold?

Phase I: Brand Position, Visual Identity

Fifty Strategy + Creative will review Lakehead University’s current marketing materials, visual identity, and market research data and perform a review of the Canadian higher education branding landscape in order to build consensus among Lakehead University’s senior administration on what differentiates Lakehead from the competition.

Fifty will recommend a brand position – to be supported by an overall graphic look or image – that will serve as a foundation for developing a marketing strategy and plan for all future marketing collateral.

Once the brand position is approved, the Agency will develop the University’s new visual identity for publishing on the Lakehead University website.

Phase II:  Marketing Strategy & Plan, Implementation

Part 1: Fifty Strategy + Creative will map out a marketing strategy (the overall direction or road map) and plan (the key tactics/activities) to meet Lakehead’s long-term marketing objectives.

Part 2: The Agency will implement selected tactics on a project-by-project basis.

What impact will this project have on the “new” Lakehead University website?

Lakehead’s website is one of the institution’s most important marketing tools. Last year, Lakehead reconfigured its website’s architecture and navigation tools and launched a “new” website for testing in September, 2012.

As soon as Lakehead's Visual Identity Guidelines are approved, the University will begin to make superficial changes to ensure the website conforms to the new Brand.

What should I do if I need to produce marketing materials before the new guidelines are in place?

Use the existing VIP Guidelines that are posted on the Lakehead University Media Relations website.

If you have any feedback contact:

Frances Harding
Manager, Marketing Support
1294 Balmoral Street
Room 2004
Telephone: 807-343-8193
Fax: 807-346-9990