Pivot Design Group creates cohesive identity with branding for Canada-wide union

Case Study by Ian Chalmers RGD and Provisional RGDs Iffat Jokhio and Chelsea LeathleyPivot Design Group Inc.

We were brought into this project by our award-winning partner Stratcom to help create a new name and brand identity for Canada's largest union.



The process began by conducting an in-depth review of member surveys and focus group results from external research that had been conducted with members of previously existing unions, Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and Communications, Energy and Paperworks (CEP). Pivot also conducted a landscape review of other unions, nationally and internationally, to gain a better understanding of union names, mergers, identities, and re-branding efforts. Working with Stratcom, we iterated through numerous collaborative naming sessions to develop the final name, Unifor. As a national union, it was essential that the new name have equal representation and meaning in French and English.

The inspiration for the concept came from the core values that the union stands for: unity and solidarity, strength and determination, and a modern, forward-looking perspective. The bold 'U' within the shape of a shield creates a powerful icon that is easily identifiable. The shield is iconic in itself, symbolizing the protective nature of the union towards its members and workers. The inflection in the U represents the joining of the two unions, CAW and CEP.



Design Issues

The new union required a single name that had equal representation and meaning in French and English for 300,000 members Canada-wide. We tackled this by exploring Latin root words, true French-English cognates, and fabricated names. The final name, Unifor, combines the words ‘unis’ (united) and ‘fort’ (strong).

We also worked within tight constraints of timeline and execution. For the union representatives and leaders, it was critical to visually demonstrate how the potential names would work as designed identities. To keep pace with the timeline and ensure that a name and identity would be ready for the May 30th launch, identity concepts were rapidly created and presented to a core team in order to get buy-in from representatives and leaders.



The final identity satisfies the original goals of creating a name and identity with equal meaning in both French and English and representing the core values of the new union: unity and solidarity, strength and determination, and a modern, forward-looking perspective. Identity guidelines and standards have been developed to ensure proper and consistent use of the identity across 300,000 Canadian members coast-to-coast.


Naming and branding this project represents one part of a much larger endeavor. The two unions will officially come together at a convention this September, and Pivot is engaged with Unifor to roll out a whole suite of materials and communications, including the new national website and local micro-sites.

"Working with Pivot Design on this complex project, was an outstanding experience for the Stratcom project team, from start  to finish.  Pivot staff were generous with their professional expertise, collaborated closely with the client team to design a brand identity process carefully tailored to their needs, brought tremendous creative energy and talent  to the table, and responded with speed and grace to  every new demand or deadline.
We were delighted with the results of this  project. As always, Pivot listened carefully and built their creative efforts on a  deep understanding of the needs and vision of the new union. The new name and visual identity works so well because there is  an excellent fit with the overall message of the new union, and the brand presence its seeks to build in the future" - David Kraft, Senior Consultant, Stratcom


"Creating a name and brand identity for our new organization posed a real challenge. Pivot brought a wealth of experience and insight to the project, backed up by rigorous research and an incredible amount of creativity. At every step, we were impressed by how Pivot presented us with many different and divergent options, but always making thoughtful recommendations for the best way to proceed. We are so pleased with the result – it embodies the values we’re trying to express as the new trade union Unifor – bold, open, strong and decisive. We’re really looking forward to working more with our new visual identity and face to the world." - Shannon Devine, Communications Director, CAW




  1. Define Goals: We deeply define the organization and their design project goals as part of our Informed Design Process. This goes into our design evidence and informs our process continuously along the way
  2. Stay Organized: When working with large teams and many moving parts, you've got to stay focused and organized — project management for the big picture and detailed eyes for the minutiae are a huge plus
  3. Understand Audience: Every so often, it's good to take a step back and look at the design system from your user's perspective — understand your audience and context of use



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