Giving Focus to a New Kind of Healthcare Clinic

Branding, Naming, Wayfinding & Signage

A Place that Reflects Its Community

HQ Toronto, at 790 Bay St., is a welcoming, sex-positive, shame-free, stigma-free, and bully-free space where cis guys into guys and all trans and non-binary people can receive integrated, person-centred health services. Its team first approached Frontier to help name the space, which led to a comprehensive visual identity, launch collateral, and wayfinding system.

Providing physical-, sexual-, and mental-health services as well as community programs, this forward-thinking integrated health hub needed a name that is memorable yet open-ended enough to be infused with meaning by its communities. The brevity and immediate association with “headquarters” provides instant impact. But “headquarters” appears nowhere in the branding; instead, the letters are repurposed for phrases—happy queens, helpful questions, high-speed queues—that communicate the range of services and experiences associated with the space. HQ the name, like HQ the venue, becomes what its communities make of it.

Giving HQ a Visual “Voice”

The type- and icon-focused visual identity expands upon this notion of diverse definitions, emphasizing how language relates to identity and empowerment and giving the organization an ability to express different messages. The brand uses one typeface: Garnett, a contemporary grotesk from Sharp Type with slight eccentricities that create a warm and conversational tone that matches HQ’s approach to health services.

Because HQ is a physical place, a magnet for community members who might feel they aren’t understood elsewhere, we included the address in the logo. If the accompanying message resonates with them, anyone who encounters the logo will know where to visit. The address likewise creates a built-in system to accommodate HQ’s future growth.

We also created thirteen icons as an extension of the visual identity and to aid people who have difficulty reading. These icons, whose forms and details are inspired by Garnett, represent not only services but also key emotions and ideas associated with the space.

Building a brand for this vital health space was not an easy task, but Frontier rose to the occasion and created one that breathes exciting life into HQ and is something our community is proud of. They approached the diverse needs of this space and its people with thoughtfulness, creativity, and respect, and I’m grateful for the partnership we have.

Jean Bacon, Executive Director, OHTN

We Speak Your Language

Like Toronto itself, HQ should feel welcoming to people from a wide range of cultural and social backgrounds. The brand system we created is flexible enough to accommodate many languages, and we worked with HQ community members to translate several “HQ phrases” into more than one hundred unique logo marks.

Giving “You Are Here” a Touch of Color

When it was time to apply the brand to 790 Bay itself, we partnered with Architecture Counsel to complement its calming, art-filled interiors. By moving the brand colors to the edges of the signs; by creating some additional room-specific icons; and by designing a “welcome wall” with the phrase sign in here translated into all the languages spoken by its audiences, we helped set a fun and inviting tone that also communicates with visitors efficiently.