B3 and Clear Space engage community with a new name and identity for Oak Valley Health

This project is a collaboration between B3 Strategy and Clear Space Design

By John Furneaux RGD, Principal at B3 Strategy and Will Hum RGD, Principal at Clear Space Design.


Over the last three decades, the population served by Markham-Stouffville Hospital has grown from less than 150,000 to over 350,000 with a marked shift in demographic representation. The Hospital Corporation itself now also encompasses Uxbridge Hospital, the Reactivation Care Centre in North York and several community-based services.
Working collaboratively, B3 and Clear Space embarked on a journey to engage staff, physicians, volunteers and community members to explore a new corporate identity that would align and unify the multi-site organization. This included a new name and brand platform for the hospital including updated positioning, personality, promise, value proposition and point of differentiation. The new visual identity also takes into consideration existing and future sub-brands, Foundations and programs within the context of the hospital’s key expressions and core strategic concepts: "Care beyond our walls" and "Honoured to care".
After extensive research and engagement with internal and external stakeholders, the name "Oak Valley Health" was selected. A hybrid of Oak Ridges Moraine and Rouge Valley, it represents two prominent geographical landmarks within the organization’s reach. Stakeholders agreed that the name honours the history of both hospitals while reflecting today’s communities and the future of their health care. The brand architecture allows sites to retain existing names, maintaining connections to their respective communities.
The team explored options using an evolution-to-revolution approach to reach an understanding of where stakeholders felt most comfortable. Through our engagement, we uncovered a strong affinity to the existing logo’s story. The final choice retains the feeling of family and community, simplified with an arc dubbed the “life path,” which is expanded upon in the branded applications. 
The final logo is filled with layers of meaning. The human quality is represented in the three silhouettes, which connect back to the organization’s history and brand equity. A closer look in the mirrored negative space reveals a hidden oak leaf, reflecting growth and the cycle of life, which also supports the new name.
Launching a new hospital brand during a pandemic required careful handling, without too much fanfare. The training we supplied, together with brand standards that were developed contributed to Oak Valley Health's phased approach to the launch, allowing for a consistent on-brand release over time.
As the brand slowly rolls out across touch points, positive feedback has been communicated from various staff and departments, including the Foundation, which will be moving forward with their own identity refresh to align with the updated Hospital brand.
With public institutions such as community hospitals, it is essential to bring internal audiences along with you for the entire branding journey. As the  ambassadors and representatives of the brand, stakeholders must feel that they have been able to contribute their thoughts on what it should represent.
Sometimes this requires significantly extending the timeline in order to properly engage and consult. Getting it right is far more important than meeting predetermined milestones. Engaging with key audiences and earning their buy-in directly relates to the successful launch and acceptance of the brand in the larger community.
Program Manager: Sarah Longwill (B3)
Research Strategist: Corien Kershey (Brand Clarity)
Designer: Tahirah Abrash (Clear Space)
Designer: Eitan Zohar (Clear Space)
Watch a video on Oak Valley Health's Logo Evolution:
John Furneaux RGD is the founder and the creative and strategic lead at B3 Strategy, a collaborative consultancy, working with clients to understand their needs and deliver insightful solutions. For 30 years, John has worked closely with organizations of all sizes — from entrepreneurial start-ups to global leaders. His award-winning experience spans a broad range of brand image and identity programs, as well as the communications and marketing initiatives that bring brands to life. John also teaches at George Brown College in their Design Management Program. He is a Past President of RGD and is an active speaker and contributor in the design industry.

Will Hum RGD leads the creative direction and vision for Clear Space. He is an advocate for smart and minimalist ideas that make a big impact. To Will, design is only as successful as its ability to solve a client’s specific challenges. With that in mind, he approaches every assignment with a combination of clear thinking, calm demeanour, imaginative design and an eye to the big picture. Will has shaped the identities and communications for some of Canada’s most notable organizations, garnering numerous awards and accolades for his work along the way. He is an active contributor to the design community, frequently working with the RGD and local and US colleges providing mentorship to young designers, participating in panel discussions, speaking and judging competitions.