Color and the Mark

Color is an important component of Penn State’s visual heritage. Our University mark and shield retain the traditional dark blue, referred to as PSU Dark Blue, as our core color, while adding a lighter blue, PSU Light Blue, to define the shadow on the Lion’s face.

Color and the Mark //

Two-Color Marks

Our preferred color version is the two-color mark with PSU Dark Blue and PSU Light Blue. This two-color mark should be used on most applications. 

The color versions shown here are the primary ways our mark will be seen. Note that placing the mark on another color or photographic background is acceptable as long as it adheres to our visual identity standards. 

Two-Color Mark with PSU Dark Blue and PSU Light Blue
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One-Color Marks with Screen

One-color applications may use PSU Dark Blue with a screen as a cost-saving measure, or black with a screen, which is intended primarily for ads in newspapers or other inexpensive applications. 

One-Color Mark, PSU Dark Blue with Screen
One-Color Mark, Black with Screen
Color and the Mark //

One-Color Without Screen

We have created artwork where reproduction with only one color, without any screens, may be necessary. 

Examples where this use is possible include: 

  • creating a watermark for letterhead
  • printing on a coaster where printing with a screen would bleed
  • printing with a foil stamp
  • embossing or debossing
  • printing on an object, such as a baseball

These special-use marks can be used in PSU Dark Blue or black. These marks should not appear in other colors with the possible exception of silver or gold for processes such as foil stamping or metal engraving. The use of this one-color without screen mark also applies to all of our entity marks as well. 

NOTE: The use of our primary horizontal mark in two colors is always preferable. While this one-color mark appears to be the same as the primary mark with the light blue removed, it has important differences.

Mark, One-Color Without Screen
Shield, One-Color Without Screen
Vertical Mark 1, One-Color Without Screen
Vertical Mark 2, One-Color Without Screen
Color and the Mark //

Reverse-Use Marks

Our reverse-use marks are not simply the positive marks with a white logotype. The scale, position, and weights have been optically adjusted. Use the reverse-use marks on dark backgrounds. 

Two-Color Reverse Mark with PSU Dark Blue and PSU Light Blue

This is the preferred color version of the reverse-use mark.

One-Color Reverse Mark, Dark Blue and Screen
One-Color Reverse Mark, Black with Screen
Color and the Mark //

Positive White Mark

For most communications needs, the University mark, featuring Pantone 287 and 284, is recommended. However, there may be a need for a mark to appear in white only. This is often the case when purchasing merchandise and budget restrictions may allow for only one imprint color on dark background.   

A positive white mark is available for all approved marks. When this mark is used, the shield will be transparent, and the background color will fill the shield’s space around the Lion. Because of this effect, the positive white mark may only be used on a blue, black or clear/glass background. The shield should not appear to be “filled” with any other color. Do not attempt to create a white mark by simply assigning white to a one-color black mark. This does not produce the correct effect. See the example below. 

Positive white marks are not downloadable from this site; however, the University’s licensed vendors will have access to these marks since the positive white marks are used mainly for merchandise. If you need to use a positive white mark for something other than merchandise, contact the Office of Strategic Communications at 

Correct Use 

The positive white mark may be used on solid blue, black or clear (glass) backgrounds. 

Correct Use

Incorrect Use 

Do not attempt to create a white mark by assigning white to a one-color, black mark. Do not use a white mark on any background color other than solid blue, black or clear glass due to the transparent background.  This ensures that the shield’s interior will appear in acceptable brand colors. 

Do not place a positive white mark on patterns or distracting backgrounds. 

Incorrect Use
Incorrect Use
Color and the Mark //

On Background Colors

We can use our mark on both light and dark background colors as well as on subtle textures. This use is possible because of the white outline around the shield, which provides a separation from the background and prevents common conflicts between marks and backgrounds with similar values or hues. These background principles apply to the vertical marks, as well as all entity marks. The colors shown here are not part of a specific color palette and are for demonstration purposes only. 

NOTE: Never alter our positive-use or reverse marks. Although both marks look very similar aside from the color of the logotype, there are subtle design differences between each. The reverse mark is slightly smaller than the positive-use mark because the white outline makes the mark appear larger. The logotype is also drawn slightly thinner because white letters appear bolder than dark letters on white.

Light Backgrounds 

The positive-use mark with the blue logotype is used on light backgrounds.  

Positive Two-Color Mark on White
Positive Two-Color Mark on 10% Black
Positive Two-Color Mark on 20% Black
Positive Two-Color Mark on 30% Black

The middle background values, from 30% to 40%, are the most challenging regarding the legibility of our logotype.

Positive Two-Color Mark on Pugh Blue
Positive Two-Color Mark on Paper Texture

Dark Backgrounds 

The reverse-use mark with the white logotype is used on dark backgrounds that are darker than approximately 35% black. This also applies to color backgrounds or simple background photographs. 

Reverse Two-Color Mark on 40% Black

The middle background values, from 30% to 40%, are the most challenging regarding the legibility of our logotype.

Reverse Two-Color Mark on 60% Black
Reverse Two-Color Mark on 80% Black
Reverse Two-Color Mark on 100% Black
Reverse Two-Color Mark on Nittany Navy
Reverse Two-Color Mark on Land Grant
Color and the Mark //

Color Specifications

The information here provides specifications to manage our mark colors in Pantone®, CMYK, and RGB color systems. The color versions demonstrated here apply to the use of our mark as part of a college, campus, or administrative unit mark. Artwork, including positive and reverse use, have been prepared for all color versions demonstrated here. This includes Pantone® artwork for match-color printing, CMYK artwork for four-color process printing, and RGB artwork for web PowerPoint and Word applications. 

Colors look different in application, from match- to four-color process, from page to screen, and even coated to uncoated paper stocks. When trying to match our colors in other media, such as a thread for stitching or silk-screen, use the Pantone® coated color swatch to match. 

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