Inspiring resilience for women with disabilities

with the DisABLED Women’s Network Canada

What we did

  • Branding
  • Print Design
  • Branding
  • Print Design

What they needed

For more than 35 years, DAWN Canada has worked to end the poverty, isolation, discrimination, and violence experienced by women with disabilities and Deaf women. To help address key issues faced by this community, DAWN engages with all levels of government, the wider disability and women’s sectors, and other groups.

Problem is, their previous logo didn’t encompass the broad diversity of women and non-binary people that they advocate for. And they were paying an ongoing fee to use the likeness of an Egyptian fertility statue on display in a British Museum.

About the logo

As the embodiment of the sun, the hummingbird radiates with the warmth of dawn. Its wings are rays of sunlight, cascading out from the core and representing a new day full of hope and strength. The hummingbird looks toward the bright future ahead.

The new DAWN Canada logo. The logo features an illustration of a hummingbird with six individual feathers making up the wing. The hummingbird appears to be in mid-flight. Underneath the Hummingbird reads "DAWN Canada", with DAWN in bold. The entire logo is in white.

Previous Logo

The old logo for DAWN Canada. The logo features a gold nearly complete circle with a grey statue in the background with their arms raised. Above that, there is a red maple leaf outline, and above that, there is an illustration of a Woman with their arms raised in the air as if celebrating a victory. The logo reads "DAWN Canada" and "DisAbled Women's Network Canada" in French and English.
An internal spread of the DAWN brand guide. The spread features how to apply the logo to different merchandise as well as the brand colours and gradient treatments on the right spread.
The DAWN Canada logo without text. The logo is of a hummingbird with a purple body, a yellow to orange gradient stomach, and a red to orange to yellow gradient wing composed of 6 individual feather.

How we helped

Right away, we spotted that they would benefit from moving towards a more inclusive brand that did not idealize an able-bodied female figure. Instead, we explored visual symbols that would better resonate with the disabled and Deaf communities, ideally with the theme of overcoming challenges.

Our search led us straight to a legendary tale by Wangari Maathai. It tells of a tiny hummingbird carrying small drops of water in her beak to help put out a raging forest fire. The task seemed hopeless, yet she persisted. When the other, larger animals asked her why she thought she could put out the fire despite her size, she replied, “I am doing the best I can.”

Across many cultures, hummingbirds are a spiritual symbol of resilience. To First Nations on the Pacific Coast of Canada, the hummingbird is a messenger of joy that symbolizes beauty, intelligence, and love. The Aztecs believed that fallen warriors were reincarnated as hummingbirds. Their god of war, Huitzilopochtli, is even named after one (huitzilin).

Stationery for DAWN Canada. Included in the image is a letterhead, and the front and back of a business card. The letterhead features the DAWN logo with "DisAbled Women's Network" in french and english, and includes the feathers of the hummingbird in the bottom right corner. The bottom section of the letterhead has contact information for DAWN. The business cards feature the DAWN logo on the left, and the appropriate contact information on the right side with a purple background. The back of the business cards features the feathers of the hummingbird in the logo on the right side and the appropriate contact information on the left.
A handout for DAWN Canada. The handout features the DAWN logo in the top centre of the image, which is a hummingbird with a purple body, an orange to yellow stomach, and red to yellow individual feathers making up the wings. The bottom of the handout reads "DisAbled Women's Network".

Making a difference

Now, DAWN Canada has a brand that speaks to the hearts and minds of the broad community they serve. They use our brand guide as a helpful template for ongoing projects, which keeps things quick and consistent. And their brand elements are carefully crafted to help their messages connect with people who have a wide range of visual and learning abilities. The future is bright indeed.

“The brand guide has been used as a basis for many of our upcoming and on-going projects. It’s easy for us to choose between the already selected fonts [and graphics] that are associated with DAWN Canada from the hundreds of options, saving us time on major design projects.“

-Mackenzie Casalino, Communications Coordinator, DAWN Canada

A macbook mockup of a presentation deck for DAWN. This slide would be the main title slide of the powerpoint, and features the DAWN logo in the top centre of the image.The top half of the background is white, and the bottom half is purple divided by a curved line. There are spots for the Presentation title and subtitle in the bottom centre.
An iPad mockup of a presentation deck for DAWN. The background is a dark to light purple gradient with the feather details of the DAWN logo on the right side in an orange to yellow gradient. The bottom left section of the deck reads "Section Heading" and "Section Subheading" in white.
An iPhone mockup of the DAWN Facebook page. The visible post on the page reads "24% of women in Canada live with a disability".

“The range of colours was enough to play around with the design elements, while not overwhelming the design.“

-Mackenzie Casalino, Communications Coordinator, DAWN Canada

The cover of a parliamentary brief by the DisAbled Women's Network. The top 2/3 of the cover is purple with a nearly transparent detail of the hummingbird wing from the DAWN logo. The subtitle reads "The Impact of COVID-19 on Women living with Disabilities in Canada by Sonia Alimi (Research) & Jihan Abbas (Research and editing)" and is dated June 22nd, 2020.
An internal spread of the parliamentary brief by DAWN. The spread features an introduction section and contact information on white pages with a curved purple separator.

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