The challenge: Aligning a K-12 summer program with an established higher education brand.

For more than 40 years, the University of Manitoba’s Mini U (or Mini University) program has provided unique access to the university environment for young people ages 4-16. The program runs over the summer months and offers a number of active and athletic programs using university facilities. 

As one part of the institution’s community engagement commitment, Mini U acclimates young people to the campus, and can help foster their affinity for the university once they’re ready to start their post secondary journey. Therefore, the Mini U organizers were eager to leverage the university’s new campaign and distinctive look into their programming and promotional materials.

This new look, based on the Trailblazer campaign creative, featured young people as a metaphorical device. But its approach had much more gravitas than is appropriate to attract young people to attend a summer camp style program. Further, Mini U wanted to use a proposed new approach for multiple years, managing and adapting the platform in-house. Our task was to show the flexibility of the institutional brand for this unique audience and expression; and equip the Mini U team to carry this dedicated iteration forward.

The solution: An injection of youthful energy within the visual lexicon.

We developed a new visual mark for the program – building off of the colloquial familiarity of the ‘Mini U’ name. The mark was set in a more youthful typeface, and used tones from the institution’s secondary colour palette to ensure alignment with the university’s graphic standards.

Mini University

Combined with a complementing graphic device, this mark was set against the sepia toned photography approach that was a signature for the broader institutional campaign.

Mini University
Mini University
Mini University

The colour of the photography approach wasn’t the only way we set the look and feel apart. The Trailblazer brand featured its subjects standing firmly in place. By contrast, the Mini U photographic approach was deliberately active – and fun – to convey the enjoyment that young participants could expect. In some applications, such as the program brochure, assets from both creative platforms co-existed seamlessly.

Mini University
Mini University

Once on site, real world applications like wearables leaned fully into the secondary colour palette, using various colours to easily identify camp participants from staff – a useful feature for program attendees (and parents) who may not be familiar with the campus.


By successfully updating the Mini U look and feel, and working closely with their in-house team, we were able to position the university to use the new visual platform for multiple years, evolving the call to action along the way.

In subsequent campaigns, the internal team evolved our initial direction. Their adaptation embraces the device that made our Trailblazer campaign effective – namely, a juxtaposition of a bold statement with an unexpected portrait of a child. 

“This summer, I’m going to university.”

Armed with this understanding, Mini U flipped the convention – combining an expected image and a surprising contrasting headline, “This summer, I’m going to university.” – demonstrating that ED provided them with the tools to effectively evolve this foundational campaign over several iterations.