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This website as a whole is a comprehensive tool to help you understand and learn how to use York University’s brand. Our brand defines how we communicate with our current and prospective students, internal and external audiences, and the world. By applying the elements thoughtfully and consistently, we will strengthen our brand and tell the story of a unified York.

This page serves as a general overview and snapshot of our Brand and why it is important.

Brand Overview

Learn more about our brand and why it is so important. Brand is not just about advertising, it is about weaving our brand through our daily activities and keeping it top of mine in all of the work that we do at York.

What is the brand?

Our brand is our DNA. It’s how we act, think, speak and behave, and is our institutional culture and identity. It makes us stand for something unique and meaningful versus other universities. It is the essence of who we are.

Why is it important?

As the foundation of York’s marketing and communications, our brand allows us to tell a consistent and powerful story to the world around us. More than a logo, font and colours, our brand delivers on our promise to create positive change and a better, more meaningful future for all.

Our brand journey

In 2019, we embarked on a journey to clearly define who we are and what we stand for. With an evidence-based strategy created from extensive quantitative research and interviews with over 4,000 audiences, competitive reviews and validation research, we landed on Positive Change – a bold vision to take our brand further.

English version

French version

Our brand stewardship policy and procedures were last approved by the Board in 2020 with the intention of protecting and upholding the image and reputation of the University by regulating the use of brand properties. This policy is designed to limit the proliferation of brand properties that detract from the University’s core positioning by diluting our distinctive image and legal right in its names and marks.  

Our vision  

York is committed to giving a broad demographic of students access to a high-quality, research-intensive learning environment committed to the public good. 

Our promise  

We are a community of changemakers. Driven by passion, we exist to create positive change for our students, our communities and the world around us. 

Our values  

  • Excellence  
  • Progressive  
  • Inclusivity & diversity  
  • Social justice & equity  
  • Sustainability 

Brand Components

The Brand Architecture, the visual identity and messaging guide below outline the York University Brand system. 

The York University brand architecture reflects a master brand strategy. The brand architecture defines the organizational structure and visual relationships between the University’s various entities. It tells us how they relate to one another and to the larger institution. 

Images of logos for Sub=brands, Faculties, Athletics & Recreation and Spirit Mark. Text treatments for Divisions and Units and Campuses.

The brand elements below form the visual identity of the York University brand system. Together, they support our unique brand expression and our positioning of positive change. Each aspect of the system helps you communicate your ideas in various forms of media, from print to digital, including motion graphics and video.

Images of our logos, colours, typography, Window of Positive Change, emblems and imagery.

York University’s brand narrative, Positive Change, exudes hope, optimism, action and inclusivity. To establish a strong relationship with our audiences, our content must consistently communicate these attributes, across all channels, online and offline.

More than ever, audiences want to make an emotional connection with the brands they follow or engage with. You need to know your target audiences and how to make that content resonate.

Your tone of voice and messaging should encapsulate all that your stakeholders value, while maintaining consistency with the York brand. To learn more visit the messaging guide page.

YU Usage, Brand Campaign and Tagline

YU is defined as a proprietary entity in York’s Brand Stewardship Policy and procedures and therefore has a list of acceptable usage cases and required approvals from Communications & Public Affairs.  

Definition: YU – pronounced “Y - U” (not “YOU”) – is our most informal York term.  

Usage of YU

  • Pan-university internal initiatives with broad reach (i.e. faculty, staff, students)  
  • Names of products/services (e.g. YU Screen, YU Card, YU Eats, YU Link)  
  • Names of internal-facing campaigns or initiatives (e.g. MeetYU, BecomingYU)  
  • In special previously approved cases, lowercase has been used for all text.  

YU should not be used for external facing products/services, campaigns or initiatives .

Order of YU in Naming  

  • YU should primarily be ordered at the beginning of products/services names/campaigns  
  • YU can be placed at the end of the product/ service/campaign name in cases where YU sounds odd or is grammatically incorrect when placed at the beginning  

Visual Representation of YU with Project/Initiative (Not Copy)  

  • After securing approval of YU usage of your project/service/initiative, a text treatment can be created with a space in IBM Plex Sans via York’s University Brand & Marketing team. In the case of a hashtag, there will be no space.  
  • There should not be a hyphen between the YU and the project or initiative  

YU Merchandise Mark  

  • The approved YU merchandise mark does not appear on its own and must always have “York University” somewhere on the merchandise  

YU in Written Copy Form  

  • Should be capitalized in writing/hashtags with a space and the first letter uppercase, the remainder of the word in lower case. The exception is in hashtags where this rule applies, with the exception of the space.  


  • Using YU in product/service/initiative name requires brand approval. Please contact University Brand & Marketing: 

York University has one brand campaign and tagline – Right The Future – which has its own usage rules – see Advertising at York.

Additional Faculty, sub-brand, unit, campus, divisions and initiatives are not permitted to have  their own taglines. This includes any standalone statements that compete with the University logo or tagline. 


York University is committed to principles of respect, inclusion and equality of all persons with disabilities across campus. The Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities Act (AODA) issued by the Ontario government aims to make Ontario fully accessible to persons with disabilities by 2025.

A key component of York’s AODA compliance is for community members to follow design standards to ensure the experience for someone with a disability as someone without. To design for accessibility means to effectively communicate to people of varying abilities and impairments. Considerations need to be made for all media, from printed posters to social media posts and even environmental designs.

Fundamentals of Design:

  • Sensory (eyesight; hearing; cognitive; semantically structured information)
  • Language Usage (cognitive load-short and literal; avoid jargon; scannable; semantically structured text)
  • Colour (contrast is affective by hue, saturation and tonal value) Sample for Faculty & Sample for Main York
  • Text (size; tracking; line, paragraph and column spacing; line length, column length, justification, glyphs)
  • Digital Media (assistive technology compatibility; semantic structure; non-text content
    • Alt Text (function; length; redundancy; unnecessary words (ig. image of, picture of); close tag (period)
    • Video (captioning; transcripts; background sounds)
  • Physical Media (eg. sign design, can the user read it/access to a digital device or do they have to rely on another person? Are you creating signage that has regulations set by the Government of Ontario? eg. elevator or stairs, room identification, etc.)

In addition, there are many components of AODA website compliance that need to put in place on York’s many websites created or updated after 2012 by January 2021. Although the York’s 2020 template has been created with AODA compliance in mind, there are still actions that are required to take place in order to avoid fines to the university.

Principals of Web Design:

  • Web content accessibility guidelines for WCAG 2.1 as well as Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM) and W3c Web Accessibility Initiative
  • Present text in a perceivable way (semantic text, no content should be delivered through sound or visuals alone)
  • User should feel in control and be able to operate the interface regardless of abilities
  • Information needs to be understood by people with different cognitive abilities, with diverse education, linguistic and cultural differences
  • Consider wide range of displays, browsers, devices and assistive technologies a user may rely on

Website Resources

Within York’s Web Accessibility Hub you will find valuable tools and resources such as: Web Accessibility Guidelines, Web Editor/Owner Responsibilities, and an Evaluation Checklist.