A logo or wordmark is a standardized graphic representation associated with an institution, organization, or business. When used consistently, it helps create a clear and memorable identity and becomes a symbol that provides audiences with immediate and powerful recognition and association with the institution.

Michigan State University has four official marks—the Michigan State University wordmark, Spartan helmet graphic mark, university seal, and block S—all of which are registered trademarks, as are the words “Michigan State University.”

  • The wordmark and helmet may be used widely by the MSU community, while the university seal and block S are available for more selective use.
  • A wordmark/helmet combination mark also is available.

In addition, a standardized signature system provides options for university colleges and other units to combine a unit name with the wordmark or with the wordmark and helmet.

See details and specifications, below. For an overview of appropriate use of marks and signatures in various types of communications, see the reference chart. (980k PDF)

Identity Standards for all trademarks

To provide immediate brand recognition and to connect university units with the Michigan State brand, print and online publications and websites for all MSU units should reflect consistent graphic identity standards.

  • Display all trademarks only in MSU green (Pantone Matching System ink color 567 or hex code 18453B for web), black, or white, or, when specified, a combination of black and MSU green.
  • Place the Michigan State University wordmark (or approved wordmark/helmet combination or unit signatures) on either the front or back cover of all publications.
  • Include the Michigan State University wordmark on every university website in the footer as specified in the MSU Web Standards.
  • Use only approved, unaltered trademarks and combination marks and signatures designed to approved specs. Do not recreate trademarks.
  • Use Michigan State University’s trademarks only on official communications, partnerships, and sponsorships. MSU does not allow use of its marks for projects not affiliated with the university, other than licensed products with approval from University Licensing Programs.
  • Use the wordmark/helmet combination mark in approved instances when a logo is to be included with a group of other logos or must appear very small.

Guidelines for use of individual marks

MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY WORDMARK

The Michigan State University wordmark is the standardized graphic representation of the Michigan State University name. It is a custom-designed mark that emphasizes the words “Michigan State” to provide immediate identity recognition and to enhance readability.

Use

  • As the primary graphic symbol that identifies Michigan State University, the wordmark (or approved wordmark/helmet combination or unit signature) must appear on all publications, websites, and other visual communications developed for MSU external audiences by any administrative or academic unit of the university except Intercollegiate Athletics.
  • Display the wordmark only in MSU green (Pantone Matching System ink color 567 or hex code 18453B for web), black, or white, or, when specified, a combination of black and MSU green.
  • Use only approved, unaltered versions of the wordmark.
  • Do not recreate the mark
  • Do not use the Michigan State University wordmark within text.
  • Do not combine with any other marks, graphic elements, or words except as specified. Exception: The wordmark may be combined with the helmet in the wordmark/helmet combination mark and with a unit name as part of a unit signature.
  • Do not alter the Michigan State University wordmark except to enlarge or reduce proportionally.
  • The wordmark may be used on give-away promotional items such as T-shirts, mugs, key chains, etc., with prior written approval from University Licensing Programs (See Use of Trademarks on Promotional Items).

Spartan Helmet

The Spartan helmet graphic is a simple, strong, and iconic mark that symbolizes Michigan State University. MSU students, faculty, staff, and alumni around the world refer to themselves as Spartans. All MSU administrative and academic units may use the Spartan helmet.

Use

  • Display the helmet only in MSU green (Pantone Matching System ink color 567 or hex code 18453B for web), black, or white, or, when specified, a combination of black and MSU green.
  • Use only approved, unaltered versions of the Spartan helmet.
  • Do not recreate the Spartan helmet.
  • Display the Spartan helmet in the right facing position; do not reverse the direction.
  • Do not alter the Spartan helmet except to enlarge or reduce proportionally.
  • Do not substitute the Spartan helmet for the Michigan State University wordmark, which should appear on all external MSU publications, websites, and other visual communications.
  • Do not combine the Spartan helmet with or place within any other marks, graphic elements, or words except as specified. Exceptions: The helmet may be combined with the wordmark in the wordmark/helmet combination mark and with a unit name as part of a unit signature.
  • The Spartan helmet may be used as a graphic element on any communication, in addition to the MSU wordmark.
  • The Spartan helmet may be used on give-away promotional items such as T-shirts, mugs, key chains, etc., with prior written approval from University Licensing Programs (See Use of Trademarks on Promotional Items).

University Seal

The official seal of Michigan State University represents the university’s founding in 1855 as the nation’s pioneer land-grant university and its legacy of democratizing higher education. College Hall—Michigan State University’s first academic building—is at the center of the seal. Above it, rays of the rising sun represent the new era in education that dawned in the mid-19th century with the bold experiment of teaching the mechanical and agricultural arts alongside the liberal arts. The sweeping walkway leading to the steps calls to mind the egalitarian welcome extended to ordinary citizens to reap the benefits of higher learning.

Use

  • The seal appears on official academic documents and on all official university stationery (letterhead and business cards) except for those of Intercollegiate Athletics, which bear the Spartan helmet.
  • Display the seal only in MSU green (Pantone Matching System ink color 567 or hex code 18453B for web), black, or white, or, when specified, a combination of black and MSU green.
  • Do not substitute the seal for the Michigan State University wordmark, which should appear on all external MSU publications, websites, and other visual communications.
  • The seal may be used on certain high-end items approved by University Licensing Programs (See Use of Trademarks on Promotional Items); do not use the seal on general give-away promotional items such as T-shirts, mugs, key chains, etc.
  • Use only approved, unaltered versions of the seal.

BLOCK S

Michigan State University’s block S is a custom graphic treatment. It is vertical in stature and contains subtle graphic styling, making it unique among similar letterforms.

Use

The block S is a university heritage mark available for use by all Michigan State University units, however it is not recommended for use on communications intended for external audiences.

  • Display the block S only in MSU green (Pantone Matching System ink color 567 or hex code 18453B for web), black, or white, or, when specified, a combination of black and MSU green.
  • Do not substitute the block S for the Michigan State University wordmark, which should appear on all external MSU publications, websites, and other visual communications.
  • The block S is not a substitute for the Spartan helmet.
  • Use only approved, unaltered versions of the block S.
  • Do not recreate the block S.
  • Do not use the block S to replace a letterform in any name or word.
  • Do not combine the block S with or place within any other marks, graphic elements, or words.
  • Do not alter the block S except to enlarge or reduce proportionally.
  • The block S may be used on give-away promotional items such as T-shirts, mugs, key chains, etc., with prior written approval from University Licensing Programs (See Use of Trademarks on Promotional Items).

MSU WORDMARK/HELMET COMBINATION

The wordmark/helmet combination incorporates the university’s primary graphic symbol with the high-visibility Spartan helmet graphic for increased recognition and readability.

Use

  • The combination mark may be used on all external communications, unless otherwise specified, including print and online publications, advertising, and licensed merchandise.
  • The combination should be used for outdoor signage identifying MSU locations off campus. (Contact CABS for more information.)
  • The combination is the preferred choice when a Michigan State University mark must appear within a list or group of visual marks from other entities. Using this combined format provides greater visual impact.

COLLEGE AND UNIT SIGNATURES

The MSU signature system enables each college and unit to connect its name with the MSU wordmark, or with the helmet and wordmark, to provide a consistent form of unit identification that is immediately recognizable as Michigan State University. The signature allows units to leverage the equity of the university’s primary marks while strengthening the overall MSU brand.

To create a unit signature, refer to the specs below or use the official MSU signature generator. You will be asked to log in with your net ID and password.

As a form of identification, all units should use the unit name set in Gotham type combined with either the Michigan State University wordmark (wordmark signature) or the combined helmet and wordmark (helmet signature).

Existing unit logos may not be used and new unit logos may not be developed.

Wordmark signature

wordmark wordmark

Use

  • The wordmark signature may be used on all external communications, including print and online publications and advertising.
  • The horizontal format is preferred, but the vertical option may be used when space does not allow for the horizontal version.
  • The college or name may be accompanied by a secondary unit name, as indicated.

Helmet signature

wordmark

To create this signature you will need the helmet graphic (see Spartan Helmet section above) and the MSU type graphic:

Use

  • The helmet signature, which combines a unit name with the MSU helmet mark with the MSU type graphic, may be used on all external communications, including print and online publications and advertising.
  • The addition of the helmet enhances visibility, making the helmet signature particularly effective for advertising and promotional purposes.

WEB AND DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS

MSU websites must display the approved standard masthead and footer. For details, see the MSU Web Standards.

BUILDING SIGNAGE

Contact CABS for all building signage matters.

USE OF TRADEMARKS ON PROMOTIONAL ITEMS

Use of any university trademark on a promotional/premium item of any type requires prior written approval from University Licensing Programs and production by a licensed vendor. This applies to all products, including those designed by students or student groups. For more information, visit licensing.msu.edu. To request approval, contact University Licensing Programs at licensing@union.msu.edu or 517-355-3434.

COMMERCIAL USE OF UNIVERSITY TRADEMARKS

Commercial use of any university trademark, including the manufacture and distribution of all products for sale, typically will require a license from University Licensing Programs. For more information, visit licensing.msu.edu or contact University Licensing Programs at licensing@union.msu.edu or 517-355-3434.

UNIVERSITY IDENTIFICATION IN ADVERTISING

Michigan State University must be identified prominently in all university-generated advertising that promotes any unit of the institution. Preferably, the Michigan State University wordmark and helmet will be used. (See approved use of marks and unit signatures, above.) On occasion, very prominent type identifying Michigan State University may be used. This applies to all online ads, magazine and newspaper advertising, posters, banners, and billboards.

When advertising is used to promote an event, university identification must appear prominently, but sizing should reflect the relative roles of the event, the sponsoring unit, and the university.

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