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Brands have to evolve.

That was the challenge facing Macaulay Child Development Centre. With roots tracing back more than 90 years, this non-profit organization is an iconic and integral part of child care in Toronto.

As Toronto had grown over the years, so too had Macaulay, providing licensed child care and an ever-increasing range of community programs to better support kids, parents and communities, with particular attention paid to newcomers to Canada, low-income families and children with extra developmental needs.

With their services expected to be in even greater need over the coming decade, the leadership team at Macaulay knew their brand identity needed to evolve to meet the challenge.

For one, the organization’s name—Macaulay Child Development Centre—didn’t reflect the reality that the organization had grown to operate out of many locations throughout Toronto. And while the name was well known to existing program participants and professionals in the child development field, the leadership team understood that the name was confusing for families who weren’t already familiar with the brand. Similarly, Macaulay’s existing logo didn’t communicate the organization’s breadth of services and sophistication of their operations.

Through workshops and agency-wide questionnaires, we worked with Macaulay to uncover which parts of their identity needed a refresh—and just as importantly, which aspects needed to remain.

We started by developing a brand position: a succinct understanding of what Macaulay offers that could be communicated to the agency’s target audiences. The Macaulay leadership team saw that their services were helping not only children reach their full potential, but also their families and, in turn, the communities they inhabit.

Our positioning process also showed us that the organization’s name needed to evolve. Most importantly, it needed to reflect that Macaulay operated out of many different locations: child care centres, home-based child care, workshops in community centres and libraries, and even in local small businesses. A subtle shift of the wording to “Macaulay Centres for Children” helped us maintain the most recognizable part of the brand—the Macaulay family name—and move away from the somewhat technical language of “child development.”

By expanding the brand position to embody children, families and communities, we could better create an identity that spoke to the aspirations of all three groups.

Our workshops also revealed that Macaulay’s long history was a fundamental part of how they earned the trust of new families and funding bodies. We consciously sought to bring that history to the fore of their identity by including it in a new tagline, one that would complement and build upon the name. The new tagline, “Helping kids, families and communities thrive since 1932,” resonated deeply with the leadership team and other key stakeholders, helping to both communicate the organization’s societal impact and serve as inspiration for the staff and volunteers who bring that mission to life.

With these pieces in place, we could then redesign the Macaulay visual identity. The existing logo, while widely loved, had been created in a time before digital communications had become the default. The new logo had to function in everything from social media avatars to T-shirts to workshop banners.

The identity system also allowed all of Macaulay’s different sites to use a consistent nomenclature.

Given the aspirational nature of the new tagline, we zeroed in on the smile found in both the sun and the house of the old logo, and made that the key design element of the new brand identity. We simplified the colour palette to give the brand better recognition.

The new logo, tagline, name and positioning are now set to usher in another 90 years of excellence in supporting Toronto’s communities, giving Macaulay an identity that’s flexible, functional and, above all, fun.