More Than Just a Logo

Assistant Professor of Practice of Visual Arts Goffredo Puccetti, along with a group of NYU Abu Dhabi students, discuss the creative rebrand of Emirates Nature-WWF.

NYU Abu Dhabi students pioneer major organizational rebrand

A phone call from an unexpected source set into action an extraordinary, life-changing  experience for a group of NYU Abu Dhabi students.

The students are the primary force behind the new logo and creative rebrand of Emirates Nature-WWF — the UAE branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature, which unveiled its new look last month. The story of the award-winning logo, however, begins more than two years earlier at a campus tour for the UAE’s Minister of State. 

How it Came to Life
“His Excellency Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh visited NYU Abu Dhabi in spring 2016,” recalls NYU Abu Dhabi Assistant Professor of Practice of Visual Arts Goffredo Puccetti. “During his visit, he came across a student’s art capstone project, Ramadan Recipes, in the Project Space, and was so impressed that he enquired about the student’s mentor, as well as the University’s design program.” The capstone was by Mariko Kuroda, who’s now graduated, and Puccetti was her mentor.

Days later, Puccetti received a call from Emirates Nature-WWF, formerly Emirates Wildlife Society, seeking his expertise in leading the organization’s creative rebrand, a recommendation that came from HE Al Sayegh following his campus tour.

“I told them that I would be honored to assist. However, instead of designing the organization’s logo myself, I suggested to turn this project into a semester-long exercise for my class on branding under the name Yes, Logo.”

The Rebrand Journey
The class was set up like a design agency, with 11 students working collaboratively on the new logo design, which had to capture a unique mark comprised of elements that reflect the UAE’s natural heritage: the fragile roots of the mangroves, the depth of the rocky wadis, and the country’s azure waters.

The group delivered four creative proposals to Emirates Nature-WWF, one of which was chosen and unveiled to the public in September: The Wadi Imprint by NYU Abu Dhabi students.    

Students’ sketches in progress
Final Emirates Nature-WWF’s logo that was designed by NYU Abu Dhabi students

Students’ Experience 


“The ‘Wadi Imprint’, as we call it,  was an exciting concept to design as it focused on two key elements: the mangroves and wadis as examples of the natural ecosystem of the UAE and a human fingerprint to demonstrate that the power is in our hands to make an environmental difference. The designing process was exciting because we were students from 10 different nationalities in our class: the logo was for a local organization but the team approached it with a global vision.”

NYU Abu Dhabi Student Abda Kazemi

“It was a privilege to engage in an environmental dialogue with Emirates Nature WWF. It was an incredible experience to learn more about the natural environment of the UAE and use design as a medium to promote awareness for the UAE's valuable ecosystems. I hope this project serves as a basis for future collaborative experiences between NYUAD students and UAE organizations.”

NYU Abu Dhabi Student Reine Defranco
A group of NYU Abu Dhabi students led the creative rebrand of Emirates Nature-WWF

Moment of Pride


"This project represents a remarkable opportunity for NYU Abu Dhabi students to partner with a local environmental organization on an exciting brand transformation. It has been a privilege to share in Emirates Nature-WWF’s vision. The outcome is a testament to the NYUAD students' creativity and dedication to the success of this first-of-its-kind partnership; we are honored that Emirates Nature-WWF has trusted our students to be able to fulfil their challenging brief and look forward to continuing this partnership in the future." 

NYU Abu Dhabi Provost Fabio Piano

“The work that our students have produced is truly inspiring; it is always exciting to see them demonstrating their extraordinary potential. They were given a challenging brief and they executed it beyond expectations. We look forward to an enduring and sustained partnership with Emirates Nature-WWF.” 

NYU Abu Dhabi Assistant Professor of Practice of Visual Arts Goffredo Puccetti

Emirates Nature-WWF’s new visual identity features a distinctive thumbprint brand mark that encapsulates the heritage of the UAE and the organization’s connection to the nation, its people, the environment, and prominent sustainability issues.