Building a Brand for an Abu Dhabi Institution

NYUAD visual arts professor Goffredo Puccetti, and colleague Jim Savio, a University writing professor, enlist Graphic Design Studio students to design a logo for the Ability Center.

When NYU Abu Dhabi visual arts professor Goffredo Puccetti, and colleague Jim Savio, a University writing professor, first volunteered at an Abu Dhabi day school for students with special needs three years ago, the visual arts professor saw an opportunity. The Ability Center was doing amazing work and gaining respect in the community for its efforts. But a lack of visual identity had limited the center's ability to share its story and engage with supporters.  

Puccetti decided to enlist students in his Graphic Design Studio class to design a logo for the Center. But while doing the class exercise NYUAD senior Erin Meekhof realized that the problem was much bigger than just a logo. "The Ability Center needed a whole identity, a whole way of narrating the work that the school is doing," she said.

Wanting to move away from stereotypical image of an adult assisting a child, Meekhof wanted to create an identity that is contemporary and meaningful. Remembering a simple doodle drawing that she had learnt from her dad as a child that represented connections, Meekhof explored many variations and finally came up with a logo that resembled two intertwined loops.

"I was really struck by the connections that are formed at the school and was reminded of the doodle that my dad had taught me," Meekhof said, "The logo expresses the connections that the Center makes, engaging everyone to the best of their abilities." With the help of Graines d'Octets, a design consultancy in France, Meekhof produced a visual brand identity makeover for the center.

The end result, unveiled at a launch party on February 27, is a new logo, a website, pull-up banners, name cards, and brochures. The logo itself is cutting-edge; the typeface was fine-tuned so that people with dyslexia can actually read it more easily. "It's an entirely new area of studies applying to typeface design, especially in contemporary Arabic typeface design," Puccetti explained.

To ensure that the work at the Center continues after her graduation, Meekhof and the NYUAD Community Outreach Office are looking at getting a brand intern every semester to continue assisting the Center with their branding needs.

Visit the newly minted Ability Center website to find ways to connect and support the school, such as their newly published wish list for their students.