Youth Without Shelter, commonly referred to as “YWS”, has been located in the community of North Etobicoke for over 30 years. It provides a safe refuge for youth aged 16 to 24 who – often through circumstances beyond their control – have found themselves without a home to call their own. Having just completed their 2019-2024 Strategic Plan, the need for the new brand to align with their refreshed mission, vision and values became imperative. Despite 32 years of equity in the name, internal and external feedback indicated the need to strengthen both brand positioning and visibility to drive fund and friend raising.
Visual Identity and Program
Stationary and Templates
Extensive primary and secondary research was conducted by YWS to inform the new Strategic Plan. SOS was exposed to this research with the task of developing a Brand Pyramid and Positioning to lay the foundation for the new brand identity. The new brand pyramid encapsulates the mission statement – Empowering youth facing homelessness to reach individual potential – and defi nes a new brand essence and call-to-action – Look Closer.
Ensuring youth livedexperience voices was key in the formulation of the new Strategic Plan. Following suit, SOS invited one of the Shelter’s youth, John, to participate in the brand development process to help guide key creative decisions and ensure the voices of all the YWS youth were heard throughout the process.
The new visual identity had to refl ect both the brand essence and the need to force a change in perspective – seeing the youth YWS supports not simply as homeless, but as individuals that can be empowered with vast potential. Perceptions of YWS as solely an emergency shelter had to evolve to refl ect YWS for what it really is – a ‘home’, where a youth’s culture and needs are understood; a safe, welcoming place committed to delivering vital programs and support services that help youth exit out of homelessness to stable living.
By emphasizing the word Youth, the new identity forces audiences to look closer at the
youth themselves and the issue of youth homelessness. The new logo is set with a sense
of boldness and confi dence yet communicates YWS as a stable and supportive place. A
secondary logo, or Spirit Brand, was developed to accommodate the often-used colloquial
acronym which can be used on apparel and merchandise.
An existing colourful wall mural at the shelter inspired the dynamic and vibrant colour palette, brand patterns, textures and photography styles that will help convey the shelter, the youth and the staff as positive, resilient, welcoming in all communication materials.