Shepherd Village Rebranding – OVATION 21 “Award of Excellence”. We helped them stand out and increase demand, with profits planted back into the seniors community. Contact us for a consultation.

Together with Nathalie Noel, Strategy & Brand Coach, we won an OVATION 21 Award of Excellence in the category for the Rebranding of Shepherd Village, a seniors retirement community, with the IABC Toronto (International Association of Business Communicators), link to Press Release.

With more than 200 entries submitted from IABC members and non-members across various industries, we are proud to celebrate with award winners whose work has been evaluated against the global standard of the communications profession.

Shepherd Village is Toronto’s largest not-for-profit seniors community and it has been dedicated to the well-being of seniors since 1961. Shepherd Village has 460 full-time and part-time staff and operates on 9 acres of land in Toronto’s Agincourt neighbourhood. It offers an array of healthcare, retail, recreational and spiritual services and four types of accommodation choices from fully independent to full-care lifestyles, all within a caring, Christian-based community.

What were the challenges and opportunities?

Shepherd Village’s brand, communications and marketing did not match the professional and modern organization that it is. The logo, typefaces and imagery looked dated. Its positioning and messaging did not consistently communicate its strongest competitive advantages and attributes that make Shepherd Village unique.

At the same time, Shepherd Village was readying itself and adapting to several demographic and sector opportunities which include:

  • growing demand for affordable seniors’ housing and services;
  • an opportunity to better compete for government funding of seniors’ housing and services;
  • a larger percentage of seniors living longer and needing more complex physical and mental health services;
  • a growing number of seniors who speak little or no English;
  • a shift in society’s view of faith-based organizations, and
  • an opportunity to better promote the revenue-generating, active lifestyle accommodations at Shepherd Village.

Approach and solutions

Shepherd Village needed a full rebrand. This large-scale project was multifaceted. It included stakeholder research and the development of a wide-ranging brand strategy: foundational brand elements; a consistent visual identity; a website; and many promotional pamphlets and materials.

Together with Shepherd Village and Nathalie Noel Strategy & Brand Coach we planned and executed the project within 14 months.

The project had five stages of work:

  • Research and discovery
  • Brand and communications strategy
  • Brand visual identity
  • Design/communications/marketing
  • Technology

How did we begin? With listening

The Shepherd Village rebranding project was large and multifaceted so much so that it’s not possible to cover our entire approach in this post. For now, we can give a quick inside look at our research and discovery stage. And what was the first thing we did? We listened.

“I feel more confident having a professional sales kit that competes strongly with the other private senior residences.”

– Sandra Hayman, Marketing Manager Shepherd Village

That’s what Marketing Manager Sandra Hayman told us after we helped Shepherd Village with their rebranding project, we checked back to hear how it was working for them. Sandra oversees the marketing and communications for Shepherd Village, a faith-based, not-for-profit retirement community.


Brand new results for Shepherd Village

When we first met Sandra, it had been more than a decade since their last branding refresh. Life had happened. Shepherd Village had changed and the world had changed even more. They were still honoured to be providing a meaningful, caring place for seniors to live. On the other hand, the marketing hadn’t kept up and was even confusing. But would a branding rethink be effective and exhausting?

As it turned out, they said the rebranding process with our team felt invigorating. Everyone got to have a voice. Employee buy-in went up. Business goals were clarified and achieved. They got to proclaim what they are truly about and wished they had done this sooner.

Confident enough to adjust pricing

Shepherd Village also felt confident enough to increase some pricing, with profits planted right back into property and programing improvements for the seniors. One key business goal was to have complete occupancy of the Terrace residence. It now has a waiting list. In fact, all the residences have full occupancy.

Other business goals were achieved. All their paid services saw an increase in enrollment both in the Health and Fitness Centre and their Adult Day program are now at capacity.

Letting the web do the work

Searching a website may not be the first choice for seniors. But a modern, friendly website is increasingly important for their “kids.” With that in mind, Ledden Design iT built Shepherd Village a WordPress™ content managed site (CMS). The content can be quickly updated by Shepherd Village staff, with a professional-looking style automatically applied to each block of content. Shepherd Village website is accessible for anyone with visual disabilities and adapts for all digital devices, from mobile, tablets and desktop computers.

“We have 25% more people showing up for tours, and with the new website, many of them are already in stage 2 of the sales cycle.”

– Sandra Hayman, Marketing Manager Shepherd Village

Sandra gave us an example. Three people show up, and two of them are the kids (50-60+ years old) looking at options for their senior parent or loved one. Due to the website, the younger adults are now more informed and very interested in doing the tour. Even better, they already understand the options, making the time that Sandra spends with them more effective.

Susan Melnick, Manager of Volunteer Services, Shepherd Village, had a similar story. She told us she’s happy all the information comes in online with the ability for applicants to post their resumes. This streamlined process uses less paper and the information is accurate and stored digitally.

As the site settles into its new usage patterns, we will stick with Shepherd Village, helping them to understand site traffic data and make adjustments as needed.

The rebranding process is already showing important gains for Shepherd Village to confidently compete in their market. They are clear on their unique offering and position in their marketplace. And we are confident these gains will continue to grow and compound for several years ahead.

Client testimonial —

“We worked with Ledden Design iT on creating a revised brand identity, communication and marketing materials for our Retirement Community.

My expectations working with Ledden Design iT most definitely were met. The best example is how Ledden and her team helped us work through our marketing materials. We had lots of discussion and disagreements as to what should be included but their recommendations won the day. Their insight brought an external perspective which we were missing.

Their creativity and design provided value to the rebranding of Shepherd Village, which made us think differently about what we wanted to achieve and connect us to a broader audience. The feedback we received immediately from our staff was positive, one staff member said: “This site is so much better. I am speechless.”

We appreciated them keeping us on track with realistic deadlines, the service of managing such an extensive project was much appreciated. We highly recommend Ledden Design iT to other organizations looking for branding and creating insightful marketing materials.”

– Farhad Sethna, Vice-President, Shepherd Village