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University Brand Standards


It is the goal of the Office of Communications and Marketing to support the University's mission and vision. We communicate our brand essence in creative and engaging ways through a variety of media channels. We collaborate with programs, departments, and units to develop clear and compelling communications strategies and provide tools that help them integrate the SMSU brand into their communications.

SMSU has a licensing program through which all items that include our name and logos are coordinated. If it includes any version of our name: Southwest Minnesota State, Southwest Minnesota State University, SMSU, SMSU Mustangs, Believe in Brown, Mustangs4Life, give us a call or email one of our staff members to find out more about the licensing and trademark requirements your project will need to follow.

Logos and Licensing:

Any project (including apparel and promotional items) that will utilize the official SMSU logos, likeness, language, verbiage and official names should be coordinated with our office. Promotional items must be produced by a licensed vendor. Artwork must be reviewed approved by SMSU prior to printing/ordering. The official logos are trademarked and subject to all legal guidelines for licensing and use.

A current list of licensees will be made available here from our licensing agent, Learfield. Additional vendors and licensees are added regularly so check here regularly for the new lists:

Click to download the PDF: Licensed Vendor List

For more information, contact the Office of Communications and Marketing at 507-537-6255 or email one of our staff members listed in the "Contact Information" menu item.

The Purpose of Identity Standards

Visual Identity Standards, applied correctly and consistently, enable us to project a strong, effective identity for Southwest Minnesota State University and help to prevent confusion among our audiences. Using the University’s official symbols correctly and consistently is an important part of the branding process, enhancing SMSU’s image as a quality educational institution.

Every time someone from the SMSU communicates with the public, it contributes to our reputation. Public appearances, publications, letterhead, newsletters, t-shirts, displays, business cards, advertisements, media interviews, websites, flyers, signs and other forms of communication represent not just the individual or program, but the entire University.

The most basic yet comprehensive component of a strong institutional image is a unified visual presentation. Collectively, all elements of Southwest Minnesota State University must present to the world a consistent image that reflects our quality, professionalism and mission. This manual is a tool designed to help manage the University's identity.

Online Standards

We are in the process of moving our Identity Standards information to the website. Information will be continue to be added. We thank you for your patience. Please contact Communications and Marketing for any questions regarding any additions and amendments to the Standards Manual since the original publication in 2008 or for any uses not currently addressed.


CMYK: This refers to the separation of color into Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. This method of printing is done on a commercial press with any color being reproduced using its CMYK value.

Pantone Color: This is an industry standard color matching system to insure accurate color reproduction of Spot Colors.

Spot Color: This the type of printing done when only one color is used.

Identifying Logos and Marks of the University

Institutional Logo: This is the University's Primary Identification Mark

Institutional Logo Thumbnail

University Seal: This is reserved for use on official documents such as diplomas and by the discretion of the President's Office. Permission for use must be obtained in ALL cases. Contact the Communications and Marketing Office

SMSU Seal Thumbnail

Mascot Logos: These logos is used primarily by SMSU Athletics and Sport Specific Teams. All uses should be approved. Apparel and promotion items must be produced by licensed vendor. Exemptions for custom use have been approved for the SMSU Alumni Association.

Mustang Head THumbnail

Legacy Mark (also referred to as the "Running Horse"): This is a logo that is used across campus by many organizations. It carries with it many years of Mustang tradition and pride. It should be reproduced in an official school color only unless approved by the Communications and Marketing Office. Grandfathered/Exceptions include the SMSU Veterans Club which uses a unique color application appropriate to their organization. The Running Horse Mustang should always face right. Any exceptions to this rule must be approved by Communications and Marketing.

Running Horse Thumbnail

University Colors

In terms of consistency and identity, color plays a key role in building recognition. Use of the University’s official colors, Brown (Pantone® 497), Gold (Pantone® 871), and Tan (Pantone® 452) are critical when reproducing the University logo. Black is the preferred alternative when budget or context prevent use of the official color scheme.

SMSU Brown
Spot color: Pantone® 497
CMYK: Four-color process formula 20/61/65/86
HEX #3A1807

Spot color: Pantone® 871 (metallic)
CMYK: Four-color process formula 20/23/60/10

Recommended Fonts/Type Styles

The recommended type styles for SMSU’s campus-wide marketing materials are listed below. These type styles possess a dignified, easy-to-read quality and their use is encouraged for body copy in brochures, newsletters, advertisements, and other communications. If you have a question about a font usage, please contact Communications and Marketing.

Recommended Font Use Graphic: Goudy, Times New Roman, Arial

Logo Color Recommendations

The Institutional Logo is printed in Brown 497 and Metallic Gold 871 whenever possible. When this type of printing is not an option, the following guides should be used: Black only for single color print jobs, Brown 497 when the entire print job is going to printed in a single brown color, or Full Color Brown and Gold separated in the CMYK values for full-color print jobs. The Communications and Marketing Office staff can help you with designing and printing using the correct logos for your project.


The logo should not be distorted either vertically or horizontally. It should remain at the 100% proportions (equal 50% vertical/50% horizontal) at which it is provided by the Communications and Marketing Office. Please contact the Communications and Marketing Office for assistance in complying with these requirements. Any publication printed with a distorted logo will have to be reprinted at the expense of the inquiring department.

Visual Example of Logo Distortions That Should Not be Applied

Control Area or Safe Space for a Logo

Any University logo should be placed with 'safe space' around it. The control area should be equal to 25% of the tallest part of the logo. No design element or background image should interfere with the integrity of the SMSU logos. For assistance or questions, contact Communications and Marketing.

Sample of Safe Space or Control area around the Logo

Unit-Specific Institutional Logos

Academic and Administrative Departments and Programs must use the Institutional Logo in their communications. The Southwest Minnesota State University name and reputation are strong, and as such, they are an asset to entities on campus, a fact that eliminates the need for individual unit specific logos. The overwhelming majority of entities on campus are represented visually by the Institutional logo, customized to the name of their individual entity as shown below. This unit-specific logo can serve as representation for individual campus entities on letterhead, merchandise, apparel, as well as printed and electronic communications. These entities include, but are not limited to:

  • Academic and Administrative offices and their respective departments and programs (i.e. those that report to the Office of the President, Provost, Vice Presidents, Deans, and Directors.)

A unit-specific version of the Institutional Logo may be created by request. Below is an example of one such unit-specific logo. It uses the Institutional Logo and adds the program/department/area name below it in an official font at an acceptable size and distance so as not to compete with the University name. Departments and program offices are not to create or use customized unit-specific logos for their individual campus entities. The official Institutional logos or the Unit-Specific Institutional logo should be the only logos to represent SMSU on all communications, printed or electronic.

Visual Example of A Unit Specific Logo

Student Clubs and Organizations

Due to their nature and frequent changes in leadership, student clubs and organizations recognized by SMSU and funded primarily by students may use their own logos and wordmarks when communicating with an on-campus audience. When communicating off campus, they must use the official SMSU logo in conjunction with their club logo and include SMSU in their organization's name. Example: SMSU International Student Organization.

What is Collegiate Trademark Licensing?

Among colleges and universities, countless third parties wish to associate themselves commercially with a school’s tremendous prestige and spirit.

The University asserts ownership and all right, title, and interest in and to its logos, which includes trademarks, service marks, trade names, designs, logos, seals, symbols, mascots, slogans and any other logo that is associated with or refers to the University.

The purpose of the program at SMSU is to protect and monitor the use of its logos as well as verify the quality and appropriateness of products, promotions, and advertising upon which those logos are used. It also ensures that the University receives the appropriate commercial value to compensate for the use of its trademarked logos, name, and verbiage.

Please note that all SMSU language and logos are trademarked. All uses must be approved in advance and must meet licensing and trademark requirements. Contact Communications and Marketing Office staff with questions.

A limited selection of low resolution University logos are available here for download. If more specialized logo formats are required for promotional items, apparel, publications and print projects, please contact the Office of Communications and Marketing with your request and specific needs.

Logos as .jpg:

Click here to download: Official Logo as Black & White .jpg format


Click here to download: Official Logo as Large Color .jpg format

Visual Identity Standards

In August 2008, SMSU adopted and began implementation of its Visual Identity Standards. The standards provide information regarding appropriate logos, colors, fonts and their use. These standards are currently undergoing revisions to address and comply with the University's collegiate licensing program. Questions about the Visual Identity Standards and the Licensing Program should be directed to the Office of Communications and Marketing at 507-537-6255 or email. Also contact us assistance in planning your projects and promotional items. (See "Logos & Licensing")

The Visual Identity Standards manual is current undergoing revision. Please contact the Office of Communications and Marketing at 507-537-6255 or email with any questions you may have. 

The Style and Usage Guide has been developed to help you with elements of writing and formatting of your documents and web pages that serve as official correspondence on behalf of the University. While some styles are based on personal preference the Office of Communications and Marketing has developed this guide to outline a consistent style for SMSU.

SMSU Style Guide, Aug. 2008

Last Modified: 11/7/19 1:27 PM