Brand Personality & Tone

Scroll this

Personality

A well-rounded sense of personality is the key to forging emotional connections with our audiences. These differentiating qualities will inform how our brand behaves and will help us make decisions around what to create and put into the world.


Engaging

We smile. We may be intimidating, but we never intimidate. We are comfortable in our own skin and want others to be at ease in theirs. There are no stupid questions.


Clarifying

We know that the true test of expertise is the ability to explain complexity with simplicity. Sometimes less is more.


Passionate

There’s nothing else we’d rather be doing. This is important, this is exciting, this is the reason we get up in the morning.


Curious

We seek answers in order to find the next questions. We are entranced by mystery and thrilled by the unexpected. Tell us something we didn’t know—please.


Aspirational

We aim high and move with confidence. We take science where it needs to go.


Tone

We can translate our brand personality into attributes to help us craft the tone we use to speak about CALS and to the world. These attributes are not meant to prescribe a singular style, but rather to convey a spirit that our verbal and visual communication should embody.


Engaging

Approachable

We are looking to connect with our audience, to provoke them with new ideas and questions and invite them to join us as we explore the answers.


Clarifying

Concise

Our audience often encounters us at times of confusion—when a prospective student is choosing a college, or when someone is trying to make sense of climate change. To cut through the competition, we speak clearly, directly and deliver our message with quick, powerful prose.


Passionate

Galvanizing

Contact with CALS is exciting, intriguing, motivating. It’s a rallying point, a beacon for the curious and fuel for the hopeful.


Curious

Inspired

CALS is awash in amazing stories and inspiring breakthroughs, and we celebrate that. We revel in the brilliance of the science unfolding around us. Our enthusiasm is contagious, motivating our audience to learn and do more.


Aspirational

Narrative

CALS doesn’t just state facts, CALS tells stories that matter. Work like this doesn’t just happen. It is driven by people with intense determination and ambitious goals. We highlight the passion that fuels the work.


Identifying the College

Internally, among familiar audiences of faculty, staff and current students within the university, feel free to use just the acronym CALS.

When addressing alumni and food and agriculture “insiders” in education, industry and media, refer to us as Cornell CALS. It will help connect us directly to Cornell and distinguish us from other colleges with the same acronym.

When writing for external audiences that may or may not be familiar with the college, including mainstream media outlets, always use the full name of the college upon first reference: Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (or the possessive form, Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences). Upon second reference, you can refer to the college as Cornell CALS.


Writing Style

From Third to First Person

To create a more approachable tone, whenever possible use the first-person when talking about CALS. The first person perspective brings warmth and relatability to CALS, reinforcing that we are a community united by a cohesive vision rather than a sterile institution.

For example:
Former style in third person:

“Faculty, students and staff of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are leading science and education toward a resilient future through our teaching, research, and extension programs…”

New style in first person:

“The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is Cornell University’s second largest college and a pioneering practitioner of purpose-driven science. We work across disciplines to tackle the challenges of our time through world-renowned research, education, and outreach. The questions we probe and the answers we seek focus on three overlapping concerns: natural and human systems; food, energy, and environmental resources; and social, physical, and economic well-being.”

From Terminology to Intention

You may notice the absence of some terms familiar around the CALS campus, in particular “Land-Grant Mission,” “Contract College” and “extension.” While these terms do have history and resonance for internal audiences, we find that they are confusing to anyone beyond the core CALS community. Rather than these specific terms, we prefer to use words and phrases that are more immediately accessible but still convey the same meaning and intention. If you need additional guidances on this, please contact us.

Style Guide

The Cornell CALS Office of Marketing and Communications uses The Associated Press Stylebook as its chief reference on questions of editorial style, with certain exceptions.

Visit our website for a brief look at acceptable style rules to be used when creating print and web publications for the college.