Updated branding from Hambly & Woolley represents evolving membership for Retired Teachers of Ontario

Case Study by Barb Woolley RGD, Partner at Hambly & Woolley



To become the trusted voice for the broader education community, improve the lives of members and seniors and broaden their membership base, Retired Teachers of Ontario (RTO) required a strong brand to support their strategic plan. 



The Retired Teachers of Ontario / Les enseignantes et ensignants retraités de l”Ontario (RTO/ERO) has provided programs and services to the education sector retiree since 1968. RTO’s mission is to serve, support, connect and represent its members by developing and delivering benefit programs, pension support, group travel, advocacy on social, political and economic issues and social engagement. They also have a foundation concerned with the aging population and the health and well-being of seniors in general.


H&W was awarded the project through an RFP process based on the team's strong portfolio of work in academe and in the education sector in general. Our rebranding of the Peel District School Board was particularly resonant with the RTO Board and leadership.



Design Challenge

With an evolving membership, RTO's mission has grown since they were founded over 50 years ago. The organization has a much broader mandate than others in their sector and the team identified a gap between their message and their mission. They needed a better story to more accurately reflect the current brand story and the future of the organization. The new identity would be applied to the Foundation, tagline, descriptor, socialization and all implementations of the new brand.


The audience was primarily members (89,000 strong and growing). We were also focused on RTO’s partners who administrate their benefits plan, as well as staff. The resolution to adopt the new brand was unanimous at the Board.


The following objectives were identified for the new RTO brand:

  1. Honour the history and reflect the values of the organization
  2. Engage existing and future members, employees and partners
  3. Provide a clear and distinctive story of who they are
  4. Convey a sense of a modern, energetic organization
  5. Give them the flexibility to adapt to where the members take them in the future


Design Process 

To meet the needs of a member-based organization with 51 districts across Ontario and Canada, it was important to hear as many voices as possible: internal and external stakeholders including staff, the Board, District presidents, members, partners and the Foundation. We did this through direct consultation, surveys, workshops and teleconferences to gain as much insight as possible. The organization has a diverse mandate and the discovery sessions provided us with key insights to create a brand idea, which was again tested with various stakeholders. The brand idea underpinned the whole brand framework: the positioning, promise, story and personality and ultimately the full brand expression. 



Brand Applications:

  • We worked with an animator to create a launch video for the AGM, in addition to other pieces related to the event including a surprise gift for all attendees.
  • New, brand-right photography for use in various channels.
  • Re-skinned website (a new build is in the works) and social channels to flip over at launch. 

The AGM provided the perfect platform to launch the brand, given the large numbers of delegates and staff in attendance. We wanted to reflect back their input and to create clarity around the brand. A video was commissioned to impart a lot of information in a concise and exciting way. It was also an asset that could be used for future communications at meetings, conferences and on the web.



We also needed new photography and graphical assets to express the new brand so that RTO could hit the ground running once the launch happened. At the AGM, all the website and social media channels changed over so that all content reflected the new brand in real time. It was super powerful.


We are continuing to work on multiple applications in print and digital to support and socialize the brand, including a web-based brand toolkit for the 51 districts across Canada.



The response has been tremendous. The community has wholeheartedly embraced the brand. The Communications and Marketing teams are overwhelmed with requests for branded elements and the digital toolkit to help the Districts update their materials. The social media channels have been hugely active in terms of shares and extremely positive commentary.


Now, we are trying to keep up with reflecting it on every touchpoint. This was a great client who wanted to get it right. We were lucky.




  1. A brand can never succeed without a measured process for stakeholder input. Because we brought the organization along for the whole journey, they felt that it was their brand right away.
  2. Brand work cannot be hurried. People don’t like change for the sake of change. Letting this steep was the key to gaining full support.