Brand Architecture

Brand architecture is a powerful tool that allows us to connect the many entities within our University in a clear, logical manner. We achieve this by creating a system for entities that use our mark, as shown here. These entity marks include our campuses, colleges, administrative/academic units, institutes, departments, and areas of expertise.

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Tier 1

We refer to Penn State as a tier 1 mark because it is the overarching entity to which all other entities are connected. 

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Tier 2

This tier includes all campuses, colleges, and approved administrative/academic units. These are referred to as “entity marks.” The typeface and size relationships in these entity marks have been carefully resolved to provide a strong presence for Penn State while allowing for the addition of the entity names. Note that when the Penn State logotype has an entity name below it, the logotype moves toward the top of the shield. This is done to maintain a visual balance between the shield and logotype.  

Some Tier 2 titles may be placed on the same line as Penn State. For example, Penn State Health has “Health” placed directly after Penn State.  Despite having titles on the same line as Penn State (Tier 1), these entities are considered a Tier 2. 

Entity mark

NOTE: When the Penn State logotype has an entity name below it, the logotype moves toward the top of the shield. This is done to maintain a visual balance between the shield and logotype. The same University mark principles on color use, clear space, minimum size, etc., apply to our entity marks, as well.

One- and Two-line Entity Marks 

Our entities have both very short and very long names. To accommodate both, we have established a one- and two-line structure. Many names fall clearly into a one- or a two-line version, but we have created both versions for some colleges, such as the Eberly College of Science. 

The alternatives are only for names with an intermediate length. In general, names with up to twenty characters and spaces can use a one-line version, names between twenty and thirty characters and spaces can use a one- or two-line version, and if there are over thirty characters and spaces, a two-line version will be required. A complete set of entity mark artwork is available for all colleges, campuses, and approved administrative/academic units. 

NOTE: Never redraw or try to recreate any of our entity marks, including our shield or our logotype. Any modification of our mark diminishes its impact and weakens our legal protection. Only authorized artwork may be used.

One-Line Entity Mark (20 characters)
One-Line Entity Mark (25 characters)
Two-Line Entity Mark Alternative
Two-Line Entity Mark (45 characters)
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Tiers 3 and 4

Tier 3 includes such entities within our campuses, colleges, and approved administrative/academic units such as schools, departments, institutes, and centers and programs.  

NOTE: Individual unit logos generally are not permissible. The unit title should appear as a Tier 3 or 4 as described here. A distinctive “look” for communications may be achieved through the consistent use of color, design, and photographic style. Units should not develop any special symbols or wordmarks as a graphic identifier without first contacting the Office of Strategic Communications at sjs22@psu.edu.

Schools and Departments 

It is possible to communicate and identify as a tier 3 or 4 with a title placed near and entity mark, but not visually attached to the entity mark. The schematic demonstrations here show different ways in which a tier 3 entity can be used next to a tier 2 entity. The demonstrations here show the tier 3 entities to the right of the tier 2 entity. It is possible to apply the same principles below the tier 2 entity as well. 

NOTE: We have used the Proxima Nova typeface in each example on this page. By using size, scale, color, and imagery, we have created difference and distinction for the tier 3 entities. This approach is necessary in order to maintain visual brand consistency rather than creating a highly designed, separate symbol, which inevitably creates a visual conflict with our University mark.

Tier 2 College Mark and Tier 3 Entity Name in Proxima Nova Regular

The first example shows how a school name can be used at a small size near the college mark. In this example, and all examples on this page, note the tier 3 name should never impinge on the clear space surrounding our marks

Tier 2 College Mark and Tier 3 Entity Name in Avenir Heavy with Tier 4 Entity Name Below

In some situations, it may be useful to place the tier 3 name large, as shown in the second example. PSU dark blue has been used as the color for the tier 3 entity. Here we show Gamma Department, the tier 4 entity, linked with the tier 3 name.

Tier 2 College Mark and Tier 3 Entity Name Reversed Out in White in Blue Shape

In the third example, we demonstrate how reversing the name out of a blue band can be an effective way of both linking and separating the tier 2 and tier 3 entities.

Institutes and Centers 

Institutes and centers are important entities within our University, and their marks should always be seen in context with a college or University mark.  

We have developed two ways to help them build their visual identity and a strong association with the University. The purpose of these two systems is to allow the institutes to link back to Penn State, either through a single college or directly to the University. We want to avoid situations where two or more college marks would be used with a single institute or center. 

NOTE: Tier 3 names should never impinge on the clear space surrounding our marks. The names should be in PSU Dark Blue, PSU Light Blue, or Pantone 285 to be in harmony and not compete with our University and entity marks.

Institute or Center Within a Single College 

If an institute or center is housed in one college only, use the college mark and separate the institute or center name from the college mark. 

Institute or Center Spanning Multiple Colleges 

If an institute or center is interdisciplinary with more than one administrating college, use the University mark and separate the institute or center name from the University and entity marks. It is recommended to acknowledge administering areas in the associated copy such as under the “About” section of the institute or center’s website.  

Institute and Center Design Possibilities 

The institutes and centers should not have highly distinctive symbols or logotypes. The examples shown here demonstrate how Avenir, our sans serif type family, can be used to create visual interest and distinction without competing with the college or University mark. Institutes and centers should always be seen in context of the college or University mark. 

Change of Weight
Change of Scale
Change of Capitalization
Change of Color
Change of Letter Spacing
Change of Placement

It is possible to communicate and identify a tier 3 entity, such as an institute or center, without using it as part of an entity mark. 

Clear Space in Tiers 3 & 4 

A tier 3 name should never impinge on the clear space surrounding our marks. The examples here indicate that additional distance is actually preferred to avoid creating the suggestion of a mark. 

Center Name Outside of Clear Space
students working in a lab with red walls