Donna Rae Sutherland & Her GCC Journey

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If you have ever had Professor Dudkowski for a class then you know what a great teacher he is, and how much he cares about his student’s success. In order to gain more knowledge from something other than our textbook and his lectures, we were given the opportunity to bring in a guest speaker. I thought this was a great idea, and enjoyed the guest speakers that had come in the past weeks, so I decided to ask my boss to come in.

donnaraeIf you don’t know Donna Rae Sutherland, she is the Associate Director of Marketing Communications here at Genesee Community College. For short we refer to this area as MarCom. Donna Rae has worked at GCC for 14 years, and has 35 years of experience in communications, within this time she has never been unemployed.

She graduated from high school in 1978, and made the bold move to San Francisco at the age of 17. Jumping forward to her being back in the Western New York area, she earned a certificate in Graphic Arts from Villa Maria College in 1983, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree from Syracuse University, specifically the Newhouse School, in 1988. During her time at Syracuse she majored in magazine journalism and minored in graphic arts.

Now some of you may still be wondering, what exactly does Donna Rae do?! She works on advertising and promotions for GCC, as well as social media, public relations, student to alumni projects, special projects for the President, and she is also involved in several committees.

During her presentation she talked extensively about how she helped develop the current GCC logo and brand. When Donna Rae first began working at GCC she knew the logo needed updating. It wasn’t appealing to the eye and there were many new online marketing outlets that demanded a new contemporary logo.

One of the first steps in making a new logo was doing in depth research to uncover the positive and negative perceptions of GCC. In a professionally conducted branding study, GCC needed to determine what 3 words the school should be most remembered by. Something that alumni could resonate with, and something others would remember when they heard or saw something about the school. The Branding Steering Committee finally concluded “Beyond Expectations” were perfect words to be GCC’s brand.

Next was to create a new logo and because this institution is commonly referred to GCC and it is affiliated with the State University of New York, they chose SUNY GCC for the new logo. It only made sense to use the name that almost everyone uses when talking about the school.

When you look at any logo you probably don’t think too much about it, but Donna Rae and the Branding Steering Committee put in a lot of time and effort for the GCC brand to be just right. To go with the idea of “Beyond Expectations,” the new logo has three major components: a warm, golden lower shape with a rounded corner which represents the caring faculty and staff; a rigid blue shape with sharp corners that represents the rigors of higher education; and the ‘white tornado’ between these two shapes which represents us, the students who are whirling off the page into future without boundaries. And what’s best is the logo works in all media—from a 12 foot wide billboard to a tweet that is 16×16 pixels!

Donna Rae and the MarCom team are just one part of the reason GCC is and will grow in the future. Like her colleagues around campus in all divisions, she is dedicated to making this school a great place, helping existing and prospective students succeed. Marketing communications is an important part of the success of Genesee Community College and I am excited to be part of the team.

 

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