KU Online Branding Guidelines

Statement of purpose

KU’s Online Program Style Guide establishes brand guidelines for academic divisions creating online programs and courses. This document contains the basic tools needed to prepare materials using the KU identity and provides guidance on editorial and design choices, ensuring consistency and clarity in KU’s marketing of its online programs.

Entries address the voice and tone to be used when describing online programs to prospective students, as well as the graphics requirements for use of the KU signature, Web templates, and many other aspects of the KU brand. Our goal is to guarantee a pleasant user experience and further strengthen the reputation of the University of Kansas name.

These guidelines, developed by the Office of Marketing Communications, should be adhered to whenever online materials or courses are being developed or generated.

Outline of other areas within brand guidelines:

Existing brand policies and guidelines in KU policy library

Trademark Licensing Policy: http://policy.ku.edu/public-affairs/trademark-licensing-policy

Identity elements


The KU brand is an expression of the university’s personality — the values, traits, and spirit that define it. Voice and tone are an essential part of communicating the KU brand.

Content for online programs and courses should “speak” in the voice that characterizes the University of Kansas: knowledgeable, expert, innovative, confident.

The tone should be personable and engaging. We want prospective students to know that KU is a distinguished research and teaching university — and we want to communicate that in a way that makes us approachable rather than bureaucratic.

Content for prospective online students should:

  • be conversational
  • speak directly to them. Use first person (we, our, us) and second person (you, your) when possible.
  • avoid jargon
  • use contractions. Avoid institutional, stilted language.
  • be concise and clear

We want to diminish the distance between the university and its constituents and make it clear that we can help them achieve their goals. Understanding both the needs of our prospective students and the university’s brand is crucial.



Color is possibly the most significant identifier that the university uses. Crimson and blue have long been the identifying colors for the University of Kansas. With the new KU signature, colors have been updated to provide a fresh, modern feel while the design retains the history and prestige of the university. An element of gray was introduced to enhance the classic design. PANTONE® is the property of Pantone, Inc.

Primary Palette

The official University of Kansas blue is referred to as KU Blue PANTONE (PMS) 293. The gray used in the logotype is PANTONE (PMS) 430. You may substitute a 45% black screen for PMS 430 Signature Gray. Whenever possible, print PMS 293 as a spot or fifth color to ensure color accuracy.

Secondary Palette

To assist designers with color decisions, the university encourages use of the secondary color palette. This palette is meant to guide the design of publications and products and to complement the primary palette.




The Gotham font family is KU’s primary font. It is suggested for use as the headline element in copy.



The KU logo and logotype use Trajan Bold, an all uppercase font. Palatino, a serif font, and Gill Sans, a sans serif font, are recommended as complementary fonts. Units may purchase these fonts to complement use of the visual identity elements; however, they are NOT required. Unit signatures and identity elements are provided as vector art.

The KU logo and logotype use Trajan. Because the type elements are enhanced, they should never be reset.



Palatino complements the Trajan in KU's signature. Palatino can be used as body text in business correspondence. It is also suggested for body text in publications such as brochures, catalogs, and newsletters. Palatino Italic is suggested for use in body text captions.

Please note that we recommend Palatino 1 and Palatino 2 in PostScript Type 1 format for Windows and Mac. These fonts are not the Open Type or TrueType fonts that are bundled with Mac OSX, MS Office, Adobe CS1, etc.

Palatino 1 and 2 font families consist of 10 font weights and styles: Roman, Italic, Light, Light Italic, Medium, Medium Italic, Bold, Bold Italic, Black, and Black Italic. The recommended styles are Roman, Italic, Bold, and Bold Italic.

The Seal

Created in 1866 and redesigned in 1964, the university seal is intended for formal and ceremonial uses. The seal is a federally registered trademark. Affiliates may not use the seal.

Use of the Seal

The seal may be placed on materials of an official, formal, or ceremonial nature, such as documents that describe a student's academic relationship to the university, official personnel-related documents, and official research-related documents by KU units. All uses of the seal must be reviewed by the chancellor’s office.

The seal may be printed only in KU blue (PMS 293) or black. Reversing the seal out of a color is acceptable if done judiciously.

Do not print the seal using a four-color process blue or color build because of difficulties reproducing the fine lines within the seal.

The seal should not be used as a background graphic or design element.

More: https://identity.drupal.ku.edu/seal

Editorial style


The university style guide addresses style questions specific to the university, including titles and building and place names.


Visual Identity
Marketing Communications

Licensing and Trademark
Paul Vander Tuig

KU Medical Center
Donna Peck

Brand Council Process

UX Wire Frames

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times
KU Today