Design Essentials

Our visual identity, colors, fonts, and photography are fundamental to every design. The intentional use of these design essentials will align all our communications in a recognizable and visually consistent way.

Guidelines, file downloads, and other helpful information are available by clicking the download buttons throughout the site. For your convenience, a master download of all brand book guidelines and files is available. Before you begin, please read these guidelines carefully.

Graphic design of the Penn State academic mark and shield
1Design Essentials //

Visual Identity

Visual identity is the single most important visual element of our brand. Diligent use of the standards and requirements for our identity cements our brand at every level of our University, maintaining and advancing our brand recognition on a national and global stage.

Please visit the Visual Identity website for more information on using the Penn State academic mark and shield.

Graphic of disks of many different colors representing Penn State's brand color palette
2Design Essentials //


Color is a foundational element in design and a powerful tool when setting a piece's mood and tone. Purposeful selection and application of color in your work can leverage the strength of the Penn State brand and help maintain a cohesive and unified brand identity.

The Pennsylvania Palette is Penn State’s primary brand palette, consisting of our signature blues and several accent colors. Additional secondary accent and background palettes are available to give you more flexibility when making color choices. Remember, accent palette colors should be secondary and in support of the signature blues.

Always check the accessibility of the colors in your design—your use of color MUST conform to the web accessibility standards adopted by Penn State. Version 2 of the color guidelines now includes important accessibility information, body text/background combinations, and link colors.


The Pennsylvania Palette

The colors of the Pennsylvania Palette are fundamentally central to the Penn State brand—just as the growth of our university is central to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The signature brand blues—Nittany Navy, Beaver Blue, and Pennsylvania Sky—are not only tied to our identity; they also reflect the active impact and strong roots Penn Staters have in communities across the Commonwealth.


  • HEX: #314d64
  • RGB: 49,77,100
  • CMYK: 84/54/29/28
  • PMS: 2377


  • HEX: #3EA39E
  • RGB: 62,163,158
  • CMYK: 54/0/27/0
  • PMS: 7472


  • HEX: #A2AAAD
  • RGB: 162,170,173
  • CMYK: 21/11/9/23
  • PMS: 429
  • white Out
  • HEX: #ffffff
  • RGB: 255,255,255
  • CMYK: 0/0/0/0
The Penn State Signature Blues

Pennsylvania Sky

  • HEX: #009cde
  • RGB: 0,156,222
  • CMYK: 85/21/0/0
  • PMS: 2925

Beaver Blue

  • HEX: #1e407c
  • RGB: 30,64,124
  • CMYK: 100/76/0/18
  • PMS: 287

Nittany Navy

  • HEX: #001E44
  • RGB: 4,30,66
  • CMYK: 100/90/13/68
  • PMS: 282
Top of a graphic element inspired by the Pennsylvania historical marker.

The Classic Accent Palette

The Classic Palette is grounded in the history and heritage that has shaped Penn State into the university we know today.

Bottom of a graphic element inspired by the Pennsylvania historical marker.
Mood map indicating that the classic accent palette resides in the subtle formal quadrant

Although colors in the Classic Palette lean toward subtle and formal, experimentation with different color combinations can produce various moods and effects.


  • HEX: #6a3028
  • RGB: 106,48,40
  • CMYK: 23/78/77/65
  • PMS: 498

Lion Shrine

  • HEX: #B88965
  • RGB: 184,137,101
  • CMYK: 8/41/51/20
  • PMS: 4655

Lion's Roar

  • HEX: #bf8226
  • RGB: 191,130,38
  • CMYK: 6/35/99/18
  • PMS: 1245

Penn's Forest

  • HEX: #4A7729
  • RGB: 74,119,41
  • CMYK: 71/4/100/45
  • PMS: 364

Pugh Blue

  • HEX: #96bee6
  • RGB: 150,190,230
  • CMYK: 40/14/0/0
  • PMS: 284

Stately Atherton

  • HEX: #ac8dce
  • RGB: 172,141,206
  • CMYK: 29/32/0/0
  • PMS: 2092

Old Coaly

  • HEX: #444444
  • RGB: 68,68,68
  • CMYK: 48/29/26/76
  • PMS: 425

Original 1887

  • HEX: #bc204b
  • RGB: 188,32,75
  • CMYK: 0/100/45/12
  • PMS: 7636

The Vibrant Accent Palette

The Vibrant Palette celebrates the insights, ideas, and breakthroughs that Penn Staters deliver every day. The colors speak to the ongoing imagination and optimism of the Penn State spirit.

Mood map indicating that the vibrant accent palette resides in the bold casual quadrant

Colors in the Vibrant Palette skew bold and casual on the mood map but are flexible enough to be used in a wide range of communications.

Dawn of Discovery

  • HEX: #f2665e
  • RGB: 242,102,94
  • CMYK: 0/75/60/0
  • PMS: 7416

Invent Orange

  • HEX: #E98300
  • RGB: 233,131,0
  • CMYK: 0/52/100/0
  • PMS: 144

Bright Keystone

  • HEX: #FFD100
  • RGB: 255,209,0
  • CMYK: 0/9/100/0
  • PMS: 109

Future's Calling

  • HEX: #99cc00
  • RGB: 153,204,0
  • CMYK: 38/0/82/0
  • PMS: 2291

Green Opportunity

  • HEX: #008755
  • RGB: 0,135,85
  • CMYK: 97/0/86/15
  • PMS: 7725

Perpetual Wonder

  • HEX: #491d70
  • RGB: 73,29,112
  • CMYK: 80/100/1/6
  • PMS: 3555

Endless Potential

  • HEX: #000321
  • RGB: 0,3,33
  • CMYK: 100/63/16/78
  • PMS: 2965C
Computer screen graphic
3Design Essentials //


Compelling photography is essential in supporting and strengthening every story we tell. A great photo should evoke a strong emotional response and convey the optimism, authenticity, and activeness of the Penn State character, immersing your audience in your subject's story.

Additional photography guidelines, tips, and tutorials are available for you to use and reference in your storytelling.

3ADesign Essentials // Photography Examples

The collage of images below represents what we aspire to communicate through all brand photography. Through lighting, dynamic composition, and by showing Penn Staters grounded in their environments, these images effectively encapsulate the tone of our brand photography.

As we move toward this goal together, WebDam, our centralized digital asset management system, will continue to evolve and be part of this solution.

Graphic showing Avenir, Serifa, Open Sans and Roboto Slab fonts
4Design Essentials //


Our brand fonts are essential to aligning your communications with our brand. To ensure consistency across marketing materials, specific fonts are recommended for University communications. For more information on font guidelines, please visit the Visual Identity website.