McCann creates a new brand for Montreal’s The Lighthouse

McCann Montreal recently revealed a new brand identity for Montreal-based The Lighthouse, a paediatric palliative care centre that supports children and their families from their initial diagnosis through end of life and the grieving process.

McCann has been working with The Lighthouse since 2019, and was asked to create a new, more modern brand identity to better reflect changes at the charity and help it stand out among other children’s charities.

“The brief was clear: They needed a refreshed brand identity that was modern, distinct and bold,” said Dave Roberts, executive creative director at McCann Montreal. “And yet, at the same time, it was still essential to communicate the deep caring and community that makes The Lighthouse so special.”

McCann came up with a comprehensive brand identity and brand guidelines, including guidance on the logo and tagline, colours, typography, graphic elements, photography, and brand tone of voice.

The Message asked McCann designer Kate Brunn to take us through the new brand identity, explaining some of the elements and the reasoning behind some of their decisions.

The name: “Everything we did started with the name, Le Phare, or ‘The Lighthouse’ in English. Just thinking about the word ‘lighthouse’ stirs up vivid imagery and tells so much of the story of the organization and its services. Lighthouses see people through storms; similarly, Le Phare acts a beacon in a storm for children and families, guiding the way for them in one of the most challenging situations imaginable. We couldn’t ask for a more meaningful name to start a project with.

The logo: “It was a major decision for Le Phare to move away from its previous logo, which featured a childlike drawing of a lighthouse, and move toward a cleaner, more modern design. Our new logo design continues to reflect the guiding light that comes from a lighthouse—but in a more graphic fashion.

My favourite parts of the logo design are the three interconnected rings in different shades of blue, representing the different stakeholders of the organization and how they support each other. The outermost circle of the logo represents Le Phare’s donors, caring community, caregivers, volunteers and partners; the second circle represents the families; and the innermost circle represents the children. When combined, the icon and word mark form a metaphorical lighthouse—a true beacon of support to those in need.

The colours: “The previous colour palette was very nautical, with bright reds and blues. We wanted to tone it down and use colours that expressed a softer and more caring organization. The shades of blue we chose bring a sense of calmness and trust to the identity, while the yellow brings a sense of happiness. Le Phare’s mission is about making the remainder of a child’s life as enjoyable as possible, so expressing optimism was important in our colour choices.


The font: “The choice of sans serif fonts was influenced by wanting to express a plainspoken and uncomplicated personality. The world of palliative child care is often loaded with complex medical terms and false hope. Le Phare’s approach is to be caring but also as straightforward as possible, so families really understand what is happening to their children and the road that lies ahead. This also influenced the choice of putting the name Le Phare in lowercase in the wordmark.

Application: “The anticipated applications for the logo and graphic design certainly influenced us from the start: We knew that we would need English, French and bilingual versions of the logo, as well as horizontal and vertical versions for both print and digital. And we knew that the logo would often need to be accompanied by the line ‘A light for children and their families’ to help provide brand context. Those were a lot of factors to maneuver around—but we all love where we landed.”

David Brown