Ithaca Area Economic Development

Ithaca Area Economic Development (IAED, formerly Tompkins County Area Development) is a private non-profit economic development organization based in Tompkins County, NY. Their task is to attract, grow, and retain companies that provide employment in Tompkins County. Since their founding in 1964, little had been done to update their brand, and the timing was right in 2020 to re-consider the market and how best to freshen their positioning. Our Brand Discovery process helped them become aware that a name change and re-brand would help better define and align their talents with the modern employment landscape.

ClientIthaca Area Economic DevelopmentServicesBrand Discovery | Naming | Branding | Web |


What is Economic Development?

During our Brand Discovery process we took a deep dive into the economic development landscape, how peer agencies talked about themselves, and how potential audiences viewed the world. We discovered that true economic development creates wealth that benefits the entire community – an investment in enhancing the prosperity and quality of life for all Tompkins County residents. To capitalize on this understanding, we explored new names, mission, and vision statements, to better align the IAED message with their audiences.

From the results gleaned in our Discovery process we were able to define the benchmarks that would define a successful re-brand. Then we put on our creative hats to begin the fun part: visualization. We explored colors, logos, fonts, and ways to represent data and infographics, all to define a bold new way to tell the IAED story.

Building Blocks of Growth in Tompkins County

We focused our creative thinking on how best to representing economic growth. As we explored graphic directions, we noticed how city and county roads organically divide the landscape into blocks, stacking and merging into spaces that echo concrete walls. Using these simple shapes we refined this idea into a symbol and brand iconography that could be used to build a modular and efficient new brand for IAED. One that reflects the landscape of our area, hints at new development, and is stackable, bold, and elegantly simple.

We then paired the brand elements with solid, workman-like fonts that are both utilitarian and distinctive, to ensure easy cross-platform usage. The color palette rounds out the system, reflecting the vibrant colors of Tompkins County through the seasons.

Brand Style Guide

In order for the IAED team to efficiently implement the new brand, we produced an extensive style guide to showcase the system. The guide includes design templates, colors, logo variations, and even website tips and tricks to manage the newly-developed Wordpress website.

Engaging Digital Presence

Knowing that most of IAED’s target audiences will reach them first through their digital platforms, our team designed and developed an elegant and easy-to-update new website with streamlined navigation in mind. With a new slimmed-down sitemap, we first wireframed out all the top level pages to ensure key content would be not be missed. Then we designed a modern and simple UI that works in harmony with the new brand, and allows users to quickly navigate to the content they need most. This also proved important for board members and local legislators who often return to the site to review public records and meeting notes.

Once we had final content and design approved, we built the new site in Wordpress to work smoothly on all mobile devices and desktops. We also provided tutorials for the IAED team to allow them to quickly take over and manage their new site in-house.

Presenting to The Masses

Branding often goes way beyond logo, fonts and colors. Consistency is vital at every audience touchpoint to build confidence in the organization. Our team helped create a variety of secondary materials for IAED including PPT decks, marketing collateral and other elements, to ensure the new brand was thorough and complete.

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