How an RRC student and teacher saved the college thousands of dollars through a logo design
Story by Luke Rempel
Video by David Boulet and Luke Rempel
Red River College’s logo was created by a student for a class assignment twenty years ago. The college paid him a $500 honorarium for the logo that is now plastered across RRC’s eight campuses and featured on advertising across the province.
“I was floored when they selected mine,” said Rob Niedzwiecki, the former student who designed the logo. “Looking back, $500 for a logo that’s the face of the college – that’s not really much when you think about it.”
Red River College did offer Niedzwiecki a job implementing the logo once he graduated, but he had another job lined up.
He now works as a design director for a marketing agency and said the average cost to create a big client’s identity and brand guide is $30,000 to $50,000.
“It’s a source of pride seeing it everywhere, knowing that I created it. I’m extremely grateful for everything the program taught me, it launched my career in a way,” said Niedzwiecki. “If there’s a sore spot, it’s knowing that they would have had to pay a company thousands of dollars for an identity.”
The logo design began in Frank Reimer’s third-year graphic design class. The college wanted a new logo so Reimer took on the project of rebranding Red River College through a major class assignment.
“The president of the college at the time took two chosen students’ logos and presented them to the college staff in the library,” said Reimer, who still teaches graphic design at RRC. “She had them vote on which logo they thought was better.”
Once the majority of staff voted for Niedzwiecki’s logo, Reimer made some subtle alterations (with Niedzwiecki’s approval) before it became the face of the college: he trimmed the three lines as they used to come to a point at the bottom, he changed the spacing between the three lines, put nicks in the ring to make it look three dimensional and altered the typeface that accompanies the logomark.
In 1998, it became the new identity of the college and Niedzwiecki became $500 richer.
Meanwhile, the University of Manitoba was going through its own rebrand. Reimer said the consultant hired to create the university’s crest logo and the brand book was rumoured to have been paid $100,000.
“I’m not saying the U of M didn’t get their money’s worth, but Rob was paid $500 and I didn’t get anything in addition to my teaching salary,” said Reimer.
What even is the logo?
Red River College’s brand book lists a handful of meanings for the logo. The three bars going through the middle ring are symbolic of pages turning in a book, or the Red, Assiniboine and Seine rivers flowing together, among other things.
“That stuff is pure poetry,” said Reimer. He said it’s common for a designer to rationalize the meaning behind a design after the design is created. “I always say you can rationalize anything.”
Niedzwiecki did say he considered some of the meaning in the brand book while creating it, but not everything beforehand.
Here’s what RRC students think of the logo: