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Strong communities and social justice, start with HousingFirst

5 December 2018

We worked with Port Phillip Housing Association (PPHA) through late 2017 and into 2018 on a momentous re-brand. We helped guide the organisation through a clear process from stakeholder and community engagement, through a naming exercise, on to the development and execution of their new visual and verbal brand identity.

After 30+ years in operation, and with a community familiar with their name, it was an enormous decision to undertake this re-brand. But with a name and brand that was increasingly ill-fitting the geographically expanding organisation, and with a firm commitment from the executive and board, the decision was set. The new name and brand are now in place to build on HousingFirst’s remarkable history while more accurately reflecting the current and future direction of the organisation.

As a social housing organisation PPHA had to walk a delicate path through their re-brand. We helped them to engage and inspire their staff and community while taking care to manage expectations and not to cause undue stress amongst their tenant group through the period of change. The tenants are a diverse group of people whose shared experiences include significant cases of housing stress. Many have spent time couchsurfing, some have lived on the street, so naturally mental health is a significant concern for the organisation.

To ensure transparency for the project and enable a voice for the varying stakeholder groups the organisation appointed a Naming Committee comprising staff and tenants. Building on this we conducted a survey, collating opinions around the project from the wider PPHA community. We ran an interactive workshop session with a large group from the community. Spirited and passionate conversations were held, stories were told, and the many objectives, concerns, opportunities and risks were uncovered. This human-centered approach fed our research phase. From there we developed a series of key insights and arrived at a detailed creative brief, ensuring the new brand would resonate for staff, tenants, stakeholders and the wider community.

The brand needed to be simple, fresh, and reflective of the bold optimism of the organisation. It needed to resonate with a strong emotional connection. We explored a variety of concept directions, identifying potential approaches and testing each option against the creative brief.

The name HousingFirst emerged as a true reflection of the many voices that fed into the process. Connecting back to a 2016 book of the same name which chronicled the history of the organisation and its vital part in the story of community activism within Australia.

HousingFirst provides housing, of course, but it’s much more than that. The new brand reflects the larger aims and aspirations of the organisation. Secure housing and the acceptance of a community has a flow-on effect in a tenant’s life, and that’s what this concept celebrates. The word “housing” and the house icon are immediately apparent, optimising readability and comprehension. Look closer and you see the arrow motif which is symbolic of the way in which secure housing is a starting point for many tenants.

Reception mock-up

In an industry where so many brands look and sound quite similar, offering something bold and distinctive ensures; internal audiences have a proud symbol to rally behind, empowering staff to be confident and singular in purpose; while external audiences (partners in particular) take notice, with a far higher likelihood of remembering the organisation and what they stand for.

The bright palette and bold, friendly letterforms speak to the energy and optimism of the brand. The rotated house implies forward movement and momentum; the ongoing positive impact of HousingFirst illustrated through a clear and simple motif. A tone of voice was developed to reflect a personality which is bold, compassionate, professional, innovative and collaborative. And the introduction of a suite of supporting graphic devices and illustrations has provided flexibility and variety for the brand as it is expressed across all communication channels, from tenant booklets and development tenders to physical and digital environments.

We love the bold new stand-out vibrant look, the colour-scheme and in particular the artwork graphics that Liquorice designed for us. It truly encapsulates our bold, compassionate and collaborative personality. The new look and name has been embraced by tenants, staff and our stakeholders and is the perfect platform to help HousingFirst grow even more and to springboard us into the future.

Haleh Homaei, CEO HousingFirst

The HousingFirst rebrand was a finalist in the Communication Design category for the 2018 Victorian Premier's Design Awards. We were so inspired throughout this project while working closely alongside an organisation who do such meaningful work. And with some tenants having recently celebrated their 21st anniversary in HousingFirst accommodation we are excited to see more stories emerge of the remarkable work they do in the sector.


Brand Strategy


Art Direction



Strategy: Shane Loorham, Anna Gowers

Research and Copywriting: Madeleine Baud

Design: Shane Loorham

Project Management: Anna Gowers

Animation: Andrew Fiscalini

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