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Washington State University
College of Education

Frequently Asked Questions about logos

Why do we have brand standards?

Speaking with one voice: Communicating a compelling brand creates a consistent impression of the University in the minds of our audiences. This helps establish clarity about the University’s core beliefs and helps build WSU’s reputation—which is essential to fulfilling our aspirations to become one of the nation’s leading land-grant research universities.

Importance of standards: WSU’s brand standards address strategies, messaging, and visual design within a highly flexible, but consistent system. Following them in all WSU communications ensures that our brand is expressed powerfully, elevating the University’s position in the hearts and minds of our audiences, ranging from prospective students and alumni to opinion leaders and donors.

More than logos: Our brand is about much more than logos, colors, and typefaces. The WSU brand consists of the feelings, memories, and expectations that come to mind when people hear or read the words “Washington State University.” We want our audiences to associate those words with a mental picture of a dynamic, engaged, and forward-looking organization dedicated to making the world a better place.

Is every unit in the WSU statewide system required to follow these standards?

Yes. Please remember that the goal of any brand and visual identity effort is consistency, which increases awareness of and support for the University’s mission. Clearly communicating that individual entities are part of the larger institution builds the WSU brand, which, in turn, builds the awareness and reputation of all university-affiliated units.

Should we throw away our existing stationery and publications and start over, given the brand refresh?

No. We encourage campus units to use their existing supplies of such materials until they run out, and then order materials that reflect the refreshed identity elements. This supports one of WSU’s institutional priorities: being responsible stewards of our resources. We also encourage units to incorporate the refreshed elements or use the provided sample templates when they begin to update or redesign their websites.

If we follow the guidelines, won’t everything look the same? How can we stand out from the crowd?

The revised brand standards introduce unprecedented flexibility in creating websites and publications customized to individual unit needs while reflecting WSU’s core identity elements. In fact, when creating websites, other than incorporating a small area we call the “spine” that includes some required brand, content, usability, and structural essentials, you essentially have a blank canvas to work with.Web templates are being developed and will be available in June. Some units are currently beta testing the templates, so this spring you may see a few live websites that reflect the new approach.University Communications can also help units create marketing collateral that combines the institutional identity elements with your unit’s identity in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and leaves plenty of options for communicating your unit’s unique characteristics through text, photographs, and other content. Remember, the overall goal of our institution-wide branding effort is to align hundreds of individual identities with our powerful Washington State University core brand.

Where can our unit get the new unit signature and what will it cost?

University Communications is in the process of creating an online application that will allow you to create your unit signature quickly and free of charge. In the meantime, call 509-335-3518 for assistance.

When will the new web templates be available?

The new web “Spine” and default templates will be available in June. Some units are currently beta testing the templates, so this spring you may see a few live websites that reflect the new approach.

Can we create a logo for a special event?

Yes, you may create a logo that will be used only for a specific purpose (such as an annual lecture or an anniversary) during a specific timeframe (such as one year). These logos must be used in a secondary manner to complement the institutional signature system.

Can I use the freestanding Cougar head as my primary logo?

No! The Intercollegiate Athletics program and the Office of Alumni Relations are the only campus units authorized to use the traditional, freestanding Cougar head mark as part of their official WSU signature. The freestanding Cougar head should be used in limited fashion by other campus units as a piece of art to convey school spirit in informal or casual communications.

What are my options for ordering branded giveaway items, such as pens?

The updated visual design standards provide a lot of flexibility in applying the WSU logo to giveaway merchandise. In cases in which space is limited, such as on a pen, the academic shield mark may be applied without the Washington State University logotype. For additional information, contact Trademark Licensing.

Can our student organization use the updated look in our communications?

Generally, student groups are not required to apply the University’s identity elements to their communications. However, when communicating to external audiences in an official capacity on behalf of the University, they are encouraged to do so.