Office of Strategic Communications
Brand Guide

Visual Identity

Visual Identity

In addition to Penn State’s word marks, our visual identity is reinforced by typography, color, graphic assets, photography, and videography. Employing these elements consistently and purposefully will help guarantee that your visual communications are firmly grounded in the power of our brand.


Color helps strengthen our brand. Penn State provides color guidelines to help units embrace the Penn State brand while having the flexibility to add some unique touches. Their guidelines feature a simple color formula, refined accent color options, useful pro tips, critical accessibility standards, and much more—all reinforcing the power of the Penn State brand.


Because Penn State colors are a component of our identity, it’s important that the color is accurate. If you’re using Canva to create promotional materials, all of the Penn State brand colors are automatically available for your use on the college’s shared Canva account.


Remember, your designs must always conform to Penn State’s accessibility standards. Be sure to reference the tools, resources, and examples of accessible ways to use our brand colors—especially for web text. 

Image of a page from The Penn State Brand Book


Nittany Navy

Beaver Blue

White Out


Pugh Blue


Typography is a key component in building an effective identity program. The fonts recommended for University communications materials have been selected for their readability, compatibility, and accessibility. You may use the variations that are packaged with each font family.

For consistency across our college, all Liberal Arts units should use the following fonts for promotional materials.


Proxima Nova
Proxima Nova Condensed

are recommended as they are well designed to render with significant accuracy at high resolution.


websites, social media, email, digital signs, digital flyers, and anything being shared digitally.

Proxima Nova
Proxima Nova Condensed


Roboto Slab

Roboto Condensed


Franklin Gothic


are recommended since these fonts are included within all Microsoft Office products. 

These fonts are available for free for all Penn State students, faculty, and staff with an Adobe Creative Cloud account. Instead of downloading a font to your desktop, you can “activate” it in Adobe Creative Cloud. Once it’s been activated, it will be available to use in all of the Adobe apps installed on your computer.

If you’re using Canva to create promotional materials, the print and web fonts listed above are automatically available for your use on our shared college Canva account.

Script fonts should be avoided and used only for formal communications, including special event invitations.

Patty Klug, director of the Chaiken Center for Student Success, presents to a group of students with the Chaiken Center word mark visible on the wall next to her.
Patty Klug, director of the Chaiken Center for Student Success, presents to a group of students with the Chaiken Center word mark visible on the wall next to her.


The most important element of our visual identity is our University mark (or academic mark), which is made up of the Nittany Lion shield and logotype. The College of the Liberal Arts has its own mark, which is to be used on promotional materials created by the college and by academic and administrative units within the college.

The College of the Liberal Arts is home to many schools, departments, programs, centers, and institutes covering a wide variety of areas of focus. Because of the vastness of the college, it’s important that all of our units have a shared visual identity that makes it easy for our audiences to recognize the unit as being one of our own. In addition to using the college mark, Liberal Arts units should use their college-approved wordmark on promotional materials. Unit wordmarks have been created by the Office of Strategic Communications for all college-level schools, departments, programs, and centers.

Graphic Assets

The University and the Liberal Arts Office of Strategic Communications provide a variety of graphic assets for communicators to use. They’re available in the BRAND ASSETS folder in the shared Canva account. You can insert them into any of your designs. For best practices on how to use the graphic assets and to download the graphic assets for use in other file formats, please visit the Brand Book.

Students walking outside of the sparks building on campus

Photography and Video

Photography and videography are helpful ways to visually showcase our college. In addition to best practices, we provide links to brand photography and stock photos to help you elevate your marketing materials.

Submit a Request

Photo Requests

Interested in having a photographer take photos at your unit’s event? Our office can discuss options with you.

Video Requests

Whether you’re just in the planning stages or already working on a video for your unit, it’s important to collaborate with our office to make sure your video aligns with the college’s brand voice and the University’s visual and editorial style guidelines.

Best Practices

  • As a diverse community and institution, Penn State aims to reflect and represent all aspects of our diversity—age, ancestry, color, disability, genetic information, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and veteran status—in communications, photography, and publications.
  • Penn State embraces a photojournalistic style where action and emotion are preferred over posed photos.
  • Student photos should reflect a modern attitude. Clothing should be age-appropriate, not loud or distracting, and not offensive.
  • Photographs of faculty should suggest leadership in their fields. Including interesting backgrounds, props, or structures.
  • Images of individuals should look spontaneous, not posed, and display an attractive area of the University.
  • Group photos of faculty and students in relaxed poses and interesting environments can communicate the personalities and attitudes.

Event Photography

Model releases must be obtained in order to legally use a person’s image and likeness in marketing materials. When in doubt, always secure a model release; this is a good practice to help us safeguard our use of individuals in our marketing materials.

When photographing or filming public events or in public areas, individual model releases may not be needed. One line of differentiation is when a shot generally composes a crowd or group verses a shot that generally focuses on one individual. When a person is the clear focus of a shot, even when in a public setting, a model release should be obtained from the individual. For photographing or filming public events, signs should be posted at all main entryways to the venue or area stating: “By entering this venue, you are consenting to be photographed or filmed for use in Penn State marketing materials.”

They should be prepared to spend the time needed for professional-level photography. Make sure students are aware of how long they are expected to be there so they can plan accordingly.

What to wear

Subjects should wear clothing they would typically wear around campus, in class, or in the lab—casual but not sloppy. They should wear colors that complement them. If a student or faculty member is not sure about a color or particular piece of clothing, you may suggest they bring extra clothing to the shoot.

What not to wear

Avoid loud, expletive, or offensive shirts; avoid hats; limit the Penn State gear.

What to bring

Students should bring along items they typically carry on campus—laptops, books, backpacks, cellphones, etc., for use as props.


The Office of Strategic Communications schedules professional headshots during most fall and spring semesters for new faculty and staff and other employees who may need new headshots. These headshots provide a consistent look across our websites and provide flexibility to alter the photo’s background for various purposes. While we request that all faculty and staff have official headshots, it is not required that official headshots be used for promotional purposes outside of college and unit websites. Bill Hessert, director of strategic communications, will send an email to the faculty and staff listserv around the start of each semester with a link to sign up. These photos are then shared with unit communicators to be distributed to faculty and staff in their units.

Stock Photos

While using photos of real Penn Staters is always preferred, there may be times when you need to use stock photography. The most important thing to remember is that you need permission to share a photo that isn’t yours. Instead of using Google Images, check out the resources below.

During the 2022–23 academic year, the Office of Strategic Communications worked with a photographer to capture Liberal Arts students, faculty, and staff on campus. A selection of these photos are available in the Brand Photography folder on the shared Canva account. You can also view the full image library on Sharepoint.

Canto is Penn State’s digital asset management system. You can find high-quality brand photography and a curated collection of University b-roll videos.

In our shared Canva account, you can access millions of free high-quality photos to either use in the promotional materials you’re creating in Canva or to download directly and use elsewhere.

Branding Your Unit

Considering there are only so many accent colors in the Penn State Brand Book, assigning each unit their own accent color and calling it a day would be both impossible and insufficient. Branding your unit entails more than just the consistent use of accent colors—it requires you to strategically incorporate all areas of visual identity. It’s the combination of color, graphic assets, and photography that will help people identify your marketing materials as being yours.

We now provide units with the option to work with us to create branded templates to help you carry your unit’s branding across your website and other promotional materials.