The University of Kansas brand is intangible — an idea in the minds of the KU community — but the visual identity that reinforces and elevates that brand must be clearly defined, with rules that shape the use of colors, images, signatures, and typefaces.
The use of the KU name holds the most important place within the brand standards, and our signature policy reflects this, strengthening the brand with judicious, limited eligibility for the signatures that pair university entities with the KU name.
This is both brand-focused and practical — like many large universities and corporations, we must decide how far to extend our brand.
However, we recognize the significance that hundreds of offices and divisions place on an affiliation with the university’s name. In response, we have created guidelines that allow these units to create their own connection to the KU brand.
Establishing unit identity
KU units derive their identity from their affiliation with the larger university. Therefore, creation of unit logos is not permitted. Their use isolates units, weakens their audience’s association with KU, and creates a sense of incompatibility or competition between the unit and university.
Designers should seek creativity within cohesion, and units should turn to the visual identity’s expressive range for a look, feel, and tone they can own without disavowing KU’s valuable brand.
The university signature is the preferred mark, but a few university entities are eligible for unit signatures, which formally link key divisions to the KU primary signature.
When using a unit signature, use the KU primary signature with the university name in the primary area. This signature emphasizes the university, demonstrates a clear and direct association between the unit and the university, and is necessary when audiences may not be aware that the Trajan letterform "KU" represents the University of Kansas. This is particularly the case with international audiences or areas outside of the Midwest region.
Unit primary signatures should be used sparingly and are best for on-campus audiences and when communicating with alumni and current students.
In this blog post, we break down our latest signature guidelines, signature eligibility, and guidance for units without signatures.
A small number of university entities are eligible for unit signatures, which formally link key divisions to the KU primary signature. The following units are eligible for unit signatures, created by Marketing Communications:
- Lawrence campus.
- Kansas City, Wichita, and Salina campuses.
- Edwards Campus of Overland Park.
- Chancellor’s office.
- Provost’s office.
- General counsel’s office.
- Jayhawk Community Partners, the university’s corporate partnership and sponsorship development agency.
- The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and its two schools: School of the Arts and School of Public Affairs & Administration; School of Architecture & Design; School of Business; School of Education & Human Sciences; School of Engineering; School of Health Professions; William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications; School of Law; School of Medicine; School of Music; School of Nursing; School of Pharmacy; School of Professional Studies; School of Social Welfare.
- KU Libraries.
- Admissions office, international admissions office, Center for Orientation & Transition Programs, Financial Aid & Scholarships, graduate studies.
- KU Student Housing.
- KU Public Safety.
- Transportation Services.
- Major research administrative units and KU’s 12 designated research centers. These are the Office of Research, KU Center for Research Inc., Achievement & Assessment Institute, Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum, Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis, Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, Hall Center for the Humanities, Higuchi Biosciences Center, Information & Telecommunication Technology Center, Institute for Bioengineering Research, Institute for Policy & Social Research, Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research, Kansas Geological Survey, and Life Span Institute.
- KU Endowment, KU Alumni Association, Kansas Athletics, the Memorial Unions.
- Dole Institute of Politics, Spencer Museum of Art, Hall Center for the Humanities, Lied Center, Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum, Wilcox Classical Museum, Spencer Research Library.
In rare instances, units will receive approval for tertiary, or third-level, signatures linking them to the university and to division to which they report.
One unit has approval for a tertiary signature:
- Academic Accelerator Program, part of International Affairs
UPDATED July 27, 2021
Clear space is the specified area surrounding official KU marks. No words, graphic elements, or other marks should be used in this space. Clear-space requirements must be observed in all circumstances.
The clear space is relative to the size of the signature and should be one-half the height of the KU logo (x) on all sides.
The height of x should not be less than three-eighths inch in print or 55 pixels in interactive uses.
The two-color signature is always preferred. It should be used on a white or light background. Don’t use the signature on a background that provides insufficient contrast.
If used in one color, the signature should be printed in only black, KU blue (PMS 293), or KU gray (PMS 430).
When using a solid-color background, the signature colors should be reversed (white).