Online education company D2L is marking a year of big change with an updated visual identity, website and a brand story that emphasizes personalized, flexible and collaborative learning.

 The Kitchener-based company, which began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange in November (TSX: DTOL), unveiled its refreshed logo and design system today.

“Design is one of the most essential tools we have for conveying brand identity,” said Chief Marketing Officer Aly Scott. “Our new brand harmonizes the evolution of our company with the transformative impact we’re making for learners around the world.”

Launched as Desire2Learn in 1999, the company was founded by CEO John Baker as a “tech for good” project while he was still a systems design engineering student at the University of Waterloo.

D2L’s core product is an online learning management system (LMS) called Brightspace.

The company’s steady growth over the past two decades was accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused schools, colleges and universities to quickly ramp up their adoption of remote-learning technology.

According to IPO documents filed last fall, the number of D2L customers grew to 970 in fiscal 2021, up 33 per cent from 730 in fiscal 2020. Customers include more than 500 colleges and universities, over 150 K-12 elementary schools and districts, over 50 professional associations and industry groups, and more than 300 businesses, health care institutions and governments in more than 40 countries.

In an interview with Tech News, Scott said D2L’s updated visual identity goes hand in hand with a refreshed brand narrative. The new storyline emphasizes the company’s commitment to providing educators and students with technology that ensures a personalized, flexible and collaborative approach to education.

“D2L has built a platform from the ground up that is built around the learner,” she said. “We really believe that we are a learning-innovation platform, we are changing and transforming the way the world learns.”

She added that D2L strives to evolve online learning management beyond a “digitized function to an optimized function – how are you blending teaching and learning in a classroom so that it is optimized to get the best of both types of environment?”

In a news release, the company said: “With this brand launch, D2L steps into an expanded category with a learning innovation platform that defines the flexible, powerful and personalized experience and breaks free from the restrictive, one-size-fits-all limitations of a traditional LMS.”

Key changes to D2L’s visual identity include a new font type and a broader palette of colours.

 The core logo – D2L – is now rendered in a black serif font, replacing the previous orange sans serif typeface (a serif is a decorative stroke at the end of a letter’s stem; “sans” serif means “without” a serif). As well, the numeral “2” is now underscored with a green line, which links the main logo to the use of various shades of green across the entire visual identity family.

D2L engaged Toronto creative agency Zulu Alpha Kilo to assist with the redesign. The changes were carefully thought through to reflect several milestone changes for D2L and to convey the company’s vision and refreshed mission, Scott said.

For example, as a newcomer to the world of publicly traded companies, D2L studied the latest in visual identity design used by dominant, international brands. Scott said the research led D2L to move away from the “sort of mid-eighties technology logos, which were sans serif (and) muted colours.” Instead, it chose a bold serif typeface, coupled with another refinement – dropping the text “Desire2Learn” from underneath “D2L,” a move that simplifies and emboldens the logo.

“We were trying to change our peer group and look at internationally recognized brands in public markets,” she said. “They often did not have a description of their company underneath; they had the confidence and dominance of a logo. So, the evolution of our (logo) moves us closer to what we believe to be our future peer group.”

Similarly, the introduction of green into the design system is intended to represent innovation, growth and human potential. Various shades of green will also represent the spectrum of lifelong learners that D2L serves, from children in elementary and high school, to the college and university level, and, increasingly, corporate learning clients.

“For us, green also symbolizes spring and youth and newness,” Scott said. “And then the darker greens look at evergreen and lifelong learning and endurance.”

D2L plans to follow up today’s unveiling with an awareness campaign over the next few months to promote the refreshed brand identity.