Established in 1946, Sydney Dogs & Cats Home is a non-profit, no-kill shelter in Sydney, Australia, that helps reunite or find new homes for over 3,000 abandoned pets each year. Currently in the midst of a move to a larger shelter and a significant fundraising effort, Sydney Dogs & Cats Home took the opportunity to introduce a new identity designed by local firm For the People.
We set about changing the experience people have with the shelter, online and onsite. We focussed on making it easier to search, fall in love and share the animals with friends and family. Highfiving them for their donations and clarifying the importance of every contribution. We developed a new identity that would work much more broadly and - importantly - celebrate the animals that came through their doors everyday. A versatile identity system was put in place to work across all manner of communications, with a boldness and clarity of message, whilst making sure playfulness was embedded throughout.
The old logo was as sad as a puppy making sad eyes at you. No non-profit, no matter how short on budget, should operate on a logo and identity like that but bless them for doing so for so many years. The new logo is a rebus that shows an abstract dog and cat instead of spelling them out and they are paired with a no nonsense condensed sans serif that conveys the strength and effort it takes to run a shelter like this instead of going for soft and cute and cuddly message like other pet shelters. The logo can be as rebus-y as using no words at all to just replacing the dog and the cat, which can be a hundred thousand of any dog and cat icons now in the library of the organization.
With each animal, on average, passing through the shelter within 2 weeks, we wanted spotlight every animal past, present and future through the new identity. Upon entry, each animal is photographed in their best light, capturing the true personality of each animal and giving them the best chance possible of finding their new home. Their physical information in the submission form helps to generates a new cat or dog icon that is then incorporated into the brand whilst giving each animal it’s own logo.
If we learn anything from this exercise is that you can render a dog in endless variations but cats, being the badass they are, basically have three different expressions and styles and they all say “Fuck you, pet me. Now stop.” Cat-celebration aside, the deadpan approach to the pet icons creates a highly endearing attitude that seeps through the identity.
In application, the identity almost works like a hip, retail fashion brand but without the pretentiousness. The black and white color palette and the single typeface approach could be deemed as edgy and perhaps cold, but the copywriting, iconography, and the new photographic approach all give it the necessary warmth to balance it out. It’s an unexpected approach for a shelter that gives it a strong yet playful voice to communicate while still managing to tug at the emotions of people and hopefully get them to adopt or donate or both.