38 / www.universityaffairs.ca / January 2017
et, de ce fait, l’ampleur de ces études. Quoi qu’il
en soit, le mandat demeure le même. « Nous dis-posons de l’infrastructure nécessaire pour vrai-ment accomplir quelque chose, conclut M.
Ungar. Si nous pouvons démontrer ce qui fonctionne et ce qui ne fonctionne pas, peut-être que
la prochains fois nous serons mieux en mesure
de dire que nous savons exactement comment
procéder. » – diane peters
Sport rebrands as U Sports
New name and logo are first steps in an ambitious
business and marketing strategy
the body that governs university sports in
Canada has changed its name and logo. The
head of the organization and chief architect of
the rebrand said the new moniker – U Sports –
heralds the dawn of a new era for university
sports in Canada.
“This rebrand is the key first step in a much
bigger business and marketing plan aimed at
getting more media attention, increasing revenues from national sponsors and generating
more excitement among fans and student athletes for our member schools’ excellent sports
programs,” said Graham Brown, chief executive
officer of U Sports.
Unveiled at splashy press conferences in
Toronto and Montreal on October 20, the new
name and logo were designed to better articulate
and convey what the sports’ governing body is
and what it stands for, said Mr. Brown. The body
was formerly known as Canadian Interuniversity Sport/Sport interuniversitaire canadien, a
name adopted in 2001, and before that as the
Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union.
In a video about the project on their design
firm’s website, Ben Hulse and Craig Durrell
said, “There was never a bilingual name that
spoke to all Canadians.” The design duo, who
notably created the Team Canada logo for the
2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, said U
Sports will lend Canada’s 54 participating uni-
versities, 12,000 student athletes, 500 coaches
and 21 men’s and women’s annual national
championships “a cohesive, bilingual brand ...
that clearly conveys ‘Canadian university sport’
without ever saying it.”
U Sports’ CEO Mr. Brown joined CIS a year
ago after a 12-year run as the top executive of
Rugby Canada, a once-staid organization that
he helped to shake up, rebrand and transform
into a Canadian sports marketing powerhouse.
He said the new U Sports brand will help to
recast Canadian university sports as an exciting
and elite brand of athletic competition that
national media and big corporate sponsors will
want to be a part of.
“This is not something that’s going to hap-
pen overnight,” cautioned Mr. Brown. “Like
with any brand, it takes time to get established.
Our focus now will be on telling the really
amazing story of Canadian university sports
and its level of athletic competition that is sec-
ond to none.”
The rebrand is part of a new business strat-
egy that also includes tighter working relations
between university presidents, athletic directors
and the four old CIS regional associations –
Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario and Canada
West – to better coordinate, oversee and organize
teams, athletes and schedules.
That ties in with Mr. Brown’s vision of iden-
tifying and promoting marquee match-ups for
a televised game of the week that would bring
popular regional or intercity university sport
rivalries to the national stage.
“It takes those kinds of things to create a
buzz and build long-lasting partnerships with
sponsors,” said Mr. Brown. He said there is
already strong sponsorship interest from several
large Canadian companies in five sectors: banking and insurance, telecommunications, automotive, professional services and technology.
The new U Sports brand and the prospect of
more corporate sponsorship dollars appeals to
Mike Mahon, president and vice-chancellor of
the University of Lethbridge and chair of the old
CIS board of directors. “We’re very motivated to
raise the profile of university sports in Canada,
which is the main reason why we brought Graham on board,” said Dr. Mahon.
A former football and track athlete for his
alma mater, the University of Manitoba, Dr.
Mahon called the Brown-led rebranding process “invigorating” and said “there is great
enthusiasm for it” among all the university
members. “The new brand will help explain
ourselves better to everyone we deal with. That
goes for businesses, the communities where our
Members of Université Laval’s Rouge et Or football team celebrate their win in the Uteck Bowl
in Quebec City on November 19.