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Published on February 2nd, 2014


Our New Brand: It’s Finally Here

By Krystle van Hoof

Since about mid-way through 2012 (earlier if you work at the office or are on the Board) we’ve been talking non-stop about branding: what it is, what it isn’t, what it means for your profession and why you should care (check here, here, here and here for a recap). Well, the time has finally come to stop the chit-chat and show you what we’ve got.

But first, some thank yous.

We couldn’t have come up with such a thoughtful and complete brand platform without the incredible willingness of members, Board Directors and staff to share their thoughts along the way.

This is your profession’s brand and we couldn’t have created it without you!


Our New Name
Essence & Promise
The Umbrella Term
Our Tagline
The Logo
The Advertising Campaign
What’s Next?
Watch a Video!


1964 – 1985: Canadian Speech and Hearing Association (CSHA)

1985 – 2013: Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA)

2014: Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC)

Rolls off the tongue a bit more easily, don’t you think?

Note: the acronym is pronounced ESS-AY-SEE. Similar to how the National Arts Centre is pronounced N-A-C. As with any new name, we will work hard to let people know what we’re now called and how to pronounce it.

Why the change?

1. Too Long (!)
Members, Board Directors and staff have experienced it for years: people’s eyes glaze over before we’re halfway through saying our association’s name. Many have even said that they’ve stopped using it altogether. That’s not very good for brand recognition!

2. Wrong Order
What’s most important? Where we are, what we are or who we represent? We think it’s the professions we represent. There’s no need to stick Canadian and association right up front and, if we’re looking to reduce the length, we don’t really need association in our name at all.

3. Unclear
We removed pathologist from our name for the sake of brevity and clarity as it is imperative that our new name be short, memorable and easy for the public to understand. However, speech-language pathologist is a protected title and will not change. While pathologist is no longer included in the association’s name, we will continue to use speech-language pathology and speech-language pathologists in our advocacy, advertising and communication materials.


When we began this project, our agency told us: “At the core of every brand is a universal truth. A singular idea that your brand stands for. It permeates everything you are and everything you do. This is your brand essence. It’s our job to uncover it and bring it to life.”

The agency reviewed our brand research and conducted interviews to help uncover our universal truth. In each of their meetings, they saw how dedicated we are to championing the professions we represent and how much we believe in the amazing work our members do.

They defined our brand essence — the thing that makes SAC tick — as:

Passionate support

And, our brand promise — the one thing we commit to doing for our members above all else — is:

Championing the professions

Everything in our messaging strategy stems from these two defining phrases.


A big part of any branding project is thinking about, defining and redefining the words and phrases you use to describe yourself.

When we’re writing a press release for the public or an advocacy piece for MPs, we often struggle to find ways to refer to our member professions without repeating the full list of speech-language pathologists, audiologists and supportive personnel over and over again.

We’ve tried the widely used communication professionals but it’s too easily confused with communications professionals, which is what I do for a living — not our members. And, many members felt the word ‘communication’ was misleading because it is not inclusive of their full scopes of practice.

It quickly became clear to us and to our agency that we would probably never find a term that encompassed everything our member professions do. However, to communicate effectively about our members, we needed something.

So, we needed to create and take ownership of a new term:

Communication Health Professionals

Does everything our member professions do fall within the realm of communication or of health? Perhaps not. But, by creating a new term, we will define it as we see fit.

Just the other day, I ran this term past a good friend of mine, an S-LP who specializes in dysphagia, and she made a great point. I’m paraphrasing, but she basically said:

“S-LPs often don’t like the term communication to describe what we do because it doesn’t include swallowing. But, when you add the word health, it immediately becomes broader and I can see how dysphagia can fit within it. One of the biggest problems we see with individuals who have a swallowing difficulty is that they retreat from social involvement. To me, anything that dissuades or prevents someone from spending time with family and friends is negatively affecting his or her communication health. In this way, it feels incredibly inclusive to think how treating swallowing disorders also improves a person’s overall communication health. And that is an important goal.”

Communication health is greater than the sum of its parts.

We define communication health as everything within the scopes of practice of our member professions. And, with the proper promotion, others will come to understand this too.

Consider this: dentists are doctors who safeguard oral health. Oral health can be anything from tooth decay to diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial region. But they’re still called dentists (dent = teeth). This term doesn’t simplify what they do, it just gives us a recognizable way to talk about a complex profession.

If someone doesn’t know that a dentist can screen for oral cancer, should we change the name of the profession or educate the public about a dentist’s scope of practice?


What is a tagline?

A tagline is a short phrase that describes what you do for your target audience.

A great tagline should:
  • be memorable
  • reflect the brand’s personality
  • be concise
Before you can write a tagline, you have to think hard about:
  • what we really do
  • who we help
What does SAC do?

When it comes right down to it, we communicate.

  • We tell MPs, the media and the public about our members; the impact their work has on the lives of the people they help; and what the professions need in order to be effective.
  • We communicate with partner organizations to develop best practices and new research.
  • We then communicate all of the above to our members.
What are we communicating about?

Mostly, it’s our members. If you were to ask an SAC staff member what we tell people when we’re asked about our members, most of us would probably tell you that we are incredibly impressed and humbled by how much our members care. We would also tell you about how their day-to-day work changes people’s lives.

Our members see the connections between communication health and a happy, healthy life. We tell people about the care our member professions provide, the passion they have for their work and their dedication to improving the lives and maximizing the potential of individuals with communication health challenges.

Our new tagline:

Speech-Language and Audiology Canada 
Communicating care.



(acronym only)


(vertical – acronym, name and tagline)


(horizontal – acronym, name and tagline)

When we think about brands and branding, most people consider the logo to be a brand’s defining characteristic. We are visual creatures, after all.

Once you’ve done the work of defining and communicating what you want people to think about your brand, it helps to have a visual marker to bring all of those things to mind without having to verbalize them. That’s what a logo does.

The process

When I look at the logo now, it seems so simple; it’s hard to believe how much time, thought and energy went into creating the final version.

  • We began by choosing a ‘mood board’, which is a compilation of colours, photographs and words, meant to evoke the ‘mood’ we wanted our logo to have.
  • Next, we received rough logo ideas and narrowed it down.
  • We then explored colour choices.
  • Throughout the process, we ensured that we had the Board’s approval, we consulted various members and sought out reactions from staff. Finally, we settled on what you see here.
Why this logo?

With any logo, you can always give a hundred explanations for why it works and what it’s meant to represent. You might see the intended meanings or you might not. Either way, what really matters is that it is simple, memorable and conveys the feeling you want your brand to evoke.

That said, here are a few of the reasons why we chose this logo:

The icon
  • The two overlapping shapes hint at quotation marks, speech bubbles, the shape of an ear or a hearing aid.
  • Two intersecting shapes represent the two separate yet intersecting professions we represent.
  • The two shapes together form a loose outline of a heart, getting at the idea of ‘care’.
The colours
  • Using blue creates continuity with our former logo.The combination of blue and grey gives the logo a professional, crisp look, helping to create a visual balance between care and professionalism.
The font
  • The font is modern (sans-serif) but has rounded lines, which gives the logo a professional, yet friendly and approachable look.

Of course, there’s a lot more to our visual brand than just a logo. We have a whole book that defines our primary and secondary colour palettes, our fonts, the type of imagery we use, how to use photography and more. But I won’t get into those details here — I’m sure you’ll find it far more interesting to see the new brand in action as we roll-out new pieces in the months (and years!) to come.


So we have a new brand. Mission accomplished? Far from it! If branding is the process of defining who you are and how you talk about yourself, marketing is going out and telling people.

In the spring of 2014, we will launch a national advertising campaign. This campaign will be the beginning of an ongoing effort to educate the Canadian public about the professions and the importance of communication health.

I can’t share the campaign details with you at this point but I can tell you that, when we presented the initial concepts to the Board of Directors, their reaction was overwhelmingly positive.


As I’ve said from the beginning: branding is not something you do and then finish. A brand is something that must be lived and cultivated every day if it’s going to be successful. In our work to promote your professions, it’s essential that we not only grab attention, but also hold on to it and sustain the momentum over a prolonged period of time. While the branding project began with our current strategic plan, it’s not going to end with it — the SAC brand will live and grow with the association.


McMillan, our branding agency, put together a short video to introduce our new brand to members. Click here to watch!


Krystle van Hoof
Communications Consultant and
former SAC Director of Communications and Public Affairs

About the author:

Krystle van Hoof has worked in marketing and communications since 2001 (which she still thinks was just a couple of years ago). She has worked with marketing agencies and non-profits alike, trying to combine the best of both worlds to serve the needs of her employers and clients.

After a fantastic two years with SAC, Krystle embarked on a new adventure: moving to Bamako, Mali with her spouse, where she has lived since July, 2013. Since the move, Krystle has been wrapping up some of the larger SAC projects she had been working on, including the new website and the branding and advertising projects. While she’s sad to go, she’s looking forward to finding interesting and fulfilling work in Mali.

You can get in touch with Krystle at or @krystlev on twitter.

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