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By Larry Van De Valk

LeadNY has been operating for 35 years. But did you know that we’ve been using the same logo for about 20 years? Following our recently completed external review, considering our current “pause” in program seminars due to the pandemic, and looking ahead to our recruitment efforts for Class 19, we thought it was time to refresh our program brand. Board members, alumni, current fellows and program staff have been working with Matt Hayes and Kelly Merchan (communications specialists in the Department of Global Development) and Iron Design (a design firm in Ithaca) to develop our branding strategy.  

The first step in our rebranding effort was the development of a new logo, and I’m happy to share that logo with you here. As with any logo, there is a lot of symbolism embedded in the design, and I’d like to explain some of that to you.

First, you’ll notice that the outline of NY State is prominent in our design. This is intended to honor NY as our home state and our firm commitment to serve the people of NY.

You will also notice a “root zone” that spreads across the state. This not only strengthens the idea that we are a NY-based program, but it is also intended to symbolize what we are best known for – our extensive alumni network touching every corner of the state – which is the source of strength and support for our program.

Sprouting from that root system is a young plant – the connection to agriculture is obvious. But it also symbolizes the personal growth experienced by our participants – another hallmark of our program.

In the background we have a shield, which symbolizes our connection to Cornell University and higher education in general. The shield is also a symbol of leadership and protection, since we care about the people that we serve.

Our color palette is also symbolic (and can be altered as needed depending on where and how we are using the logo). Green is representative not only of agriculture and food, but also growth. Dark brown is representative of soil, our roots, and our foundation in the earth’s ecosystems. Blue, representing water and sky, is used to symbolize our connection to natural resources and the environment. And finally, red not only shows our connection to Cornell, but is also symbolic of strength and leadership.

Development of this new logo is only the first step in our overall rebranding effort. You’ll notice a new look to this newsletter, and we’ve already updated our website. We’ve also re-launched the LinkedIn program page and invite you to follow this publicly accessible page. Here, we’ll share program news, leadership resources, job opportunities, and more. In addition, we also have a restricted membership LinkedIn alumni group which is where alumni can connect with each other and share professional updates and requests. Likewise, the program’s public-facing Facebook page and private LeadNY alumni group have been updated as well. We encourage all of our readers to Follow, Like, Join and Share these sites as appropriate.

In the coming months, we’ll be updating all of our print material (e.g. marketing and fundraising brochures) as well as our recruitment display visuals. Our goal is to not only give the program a fresh new look, but also to make it attractive to a broader audience as we try to recruit more diverse cohorts moving forward. Thanks to all those that have provided - and will continue to provide – input on this process. We hope you like the result!

About the author

Larry Van De Valk

Larry Van De Valk is a Senior Extension Associate in the Department of Global Development and serves as the executive director of the Lead NY Program, a highly regarded leadership development program for adult professionals in the food, agriculture and natural resource sectors. 

Larry in LEAD NY office

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