What’s in a Brand? Community Journalist Gavin Reid Explores the Gordon Neighbourhood House Rebranding Process

As a community provider with a rich history of giving, Gordon Neighborhood House understands its responsibility within the community. The services and programs provided are a reflection of the vision shared by each person that walks through the doors of Gordon House. One of the main challenges for the organization is to let patrons of the West End and citizens of the Lower Mainland know that the Neighbourhood House is committed to providing a centre for growth and sharing. A vital step in delivering this message is the creation of a strong brand identity, one that signifies to Gordon House staff, volunteers, donors, and members that it is an organization dedicated to a cause.

In an effort to better understand the work of creating a brand identity and the benefit it gives to the organization I spoke with James Kim, Communications Consultant; Cassie Clay Smith, Graphic Designer; and Paul Michael Taylor, Executive Director of Gordon Neighbourhood House.

James Kim has been a part of the creation of a brand identity for Gordon Neighborhood House since November 2012. I asked James why a brand is essential to any organization: “It is important to create a good first impression. A brand reflects personality and helps make it recognizable in different environments.” Establishing a vibrant first impression to Gordon House’s neighbours assists in building trust and creating friendships.

Cassie Clay Smith is a designer with a broad portfolio who has been a leader in the rebranding of Gordon Neighbourhood House. Educated in Fine Arts and Graphic Design at Langara College and Kwantlen Polytechnic University, I wanted to hear her hopes for capturing tangible meaning with the formation of a brand identity: “As an organization with a huge heart, I wanted the branding to encompass feelings of community, belonging, professionalism and a bit of sophistication. The literal imagery of the branding is the feeling of being in a treehouse in which you explore.” Gordon Neighborhood House is a place where all in the community are invited and welcomed into an explorative environment in which a variety of programs and services are offered. This offering fosters an atmosphere of togetherness within the walls of the Neighbourhood House.

Paul Michael Taylor serves as Executive Director of Gordon House. The opportunity to speak with him about the rebranding process was a key point in learning about the transition that takes place from the brand into the day-to-day operations within the Neighbourhood House. “The brand is a visual cue that introduces people and lets them know who we are and the work we are committed to doing,” says Paul. “With confidence and belief comes consistency in our work,” he adds.

Gordon Neighborhood House has a historic relationship with the West End. A unique and uplifting brand identity aims to speak to the community as a whole, from the volunteers working within the Neighbourhood House, to potential donors who enlist trust in its work, to those in the community who walk through its doors for the first time. A symbol of warmth, dynamism, and fellowship, James, Paul, and Cassie hope that the new brand identity helps connect community members to the Neighbourhood House. Gordon Neighbourhood House is open to all and forever in flux–together we grow.

-Written by Gavin Reid
Gordon Neighbourhood House's New Brand.

Two Summer Camp participants sport the new brand identity with their GNH t-shirts.