The Dell Young Leaders is a scholarship program in South Africa, funded by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, that helps historically disadvantaged students with limited financial resources complete college and obtain employment at graduation. When our client, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, came to us they requested that the new identity remains modern and professional yet have some local flavor and cultivate leadership.
When searching for the most appropriate symbol to represent the Dell Young Leaders, we came up with the idea of the protea – the South Africa’s national flower and a symbol of diversity and courage. Among the oldest families of flowers on earth, dating back 300 million years, Greek legend tells us that protea were named after Proteus, the son of Poseidon. A sea god who had the power to know all things past, present and future, Proteus was defiant and preferred to nap on the island of Pharos rather than prophesize. To deter those seeking his insights, he would change his shape at will, and it’s said that the protea flower was named after him because it, too, presents itself in an astounding variety of shapes, sizes, hues and textures to make up more than 1,400 varieties.
With its mythological associations of change and transformation, and aligned with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation’s mission “to transform the lives of children living in urban poverty through better health and education”, the protea became the chosen symbol for the Dell Scholarship program. Discovering it within the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation identity was one of those “magical” things, we designers often do.