The will to make a difference. To lift up. To look forward. It’s been at our core since day one.

The MSU brand speaks to the determination Spartans have to make a meaningful difference in our lives and in the lives of others. It celebrates our excellence, aspirations and commitment to make a better tomorrow for our students, for Michigan and for the world. 

The brand is the foundation from which Spartans communicate who we are, what we stand for and the impact we make.

What is a Brand?

A brand is more than a logo or the Spartan Helmet – it’s a promise.

MSU spartan helmet logo

Upholding a brand means making good on a promise time after time. For Michigan State University, this promise and brand have been upheld for nearly 160 years.

MSU’s brand is what students, parents, alumni, academic peers, partners, communities, and corporations think, feel, and respond to when they hear the words or see the symbols for Michigan State University.


Like the University itself, the College of Arts & Letters has a brand to demonstrate the distinctive features and successes of its faculty and students. Used unfailingly, each of the programs housed in the College of Arts & Letters will enjoy the benefits of being clearly associated with the College and the University as a whole.

Why does the College need a Brand Guide?

Maintaining a brand isn’t hard, but it takes consistency and effort.

The College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University houses many unique programs, majors, specializations, and people. However, each of these components is also housed within Michigan State University. This means that each publication, website, or multimedia production needs to adhere to standards set forth by the College to maintain a united presence both within the MSU community and throughout the world.

Each member of the College of Arts & Letters community from faculty and staff to current students and alumni has a responsibility to be an ambassador of the strengths and diversity housed by the College. By sending strong ambassadors into communities around the world, the College of Arts & Letters hones a distinct reputation. This reputation depends not only on the people who represent the brand, but on the pieces that may stand independent of those people.

Consistency of content, messaging, visuals, and quality from each department will ensure that the brand of the College of Arts & Letters and Michigan State University is authentic throughout the MSU community, at home and abroad.

Brand Strategy

What is a Brand Strategy?

A brand strategy is a document that creates a foundation for an organization’s identity, messaging and visual presentation. It serves as a framework for both internal and external communications, as well as a guide for how internal operations are performed.

The MSU brand is built upon the fundamental truth of our history and the strength of our identity. The way our brand is expressed—its look, feel, and tone—reflects what the College of Arts & Letters and Michigan State University are and aspire to become. 

Our platform includes Purpose, Personality, Positioning, and Pillars. Developing and maintaining a brand platform is important as it is the base for how we tell our stories, how we generate engagement, and how we frame the College of Arts & Letters as a whole.

Visual Expression

Our visual expression makes the MSU brand more memorable and meaningful.

A consistent visual identity creates a distinctive look that becomes recognizable and credible when repeated in communications over time.

MSU’s visual identity focuses on four key areas:

  • Typography
  • Color
  • Graphic elements
  • Photographic style

These design components may be used flexibly. Choose and use the elements that work best for your audiences and communications.


Typography choices say a lot about us.

Our primary and secondary typefaces have been chosen to convey both the optimistic, forward-thinking tone of MSU as well as to connect to our history of excellence and impact.

Gotham (sans serif)

Gotham has been an essential part of MSU’s brand identity for more than a decade. Approachable and modern, yet classic, It evokes MSU’s open, collaborative and forward-thinking approach to solving problems and providing opportunity.

Gotham has many weights and is appropriate for almost any application.

Californian (serif)
Californian is well suited for classic designs. Strong and refined, it reflects MSU’s proud history of excellence.

  • Californian works well for headlines and small blocks of text when a serif typeface is desired.
  • Other serif typeface options are Garamond and Times New Roman.

More information regarding typography including secondary typefaces, web standards, typeface substitutions and more can be found on the MSU Brand Studio website.

Color Palette

Color is an essential part of effective visual identity, and green and white, Michigan State’s official colors, are essential to our visual brand expression.

In fact, Spartan green is iconic. It provides an immediate and powerful emotional connection to the university, our proud history and our uncommon will to empower an extraordinary future. Think “Go Green!”

Spartan green and white are our core brand colors. (For black and white applications and when needed for accessibility, black may also be used.)

A family of greens also is included in the color palette.  These accent colors, along with the core colors, expand design flexibility while also ensuring accessibility and building immediate recognition, connection and greater consistency in communications.

When matching colors in the palette, consider the medium. The same color formula looks different on the web than it does printed on paper or rendered in fabric. The palette was established to provide a range of accessible colors for web and digital media.

The MSU Brand Studio site contains more information on color including accessibility color pairings, web content standards, and more.

MSU Brand Studio

The MSU Brand Studio website is the primary resource on everything regarding the MSU Brand. Along with the guidelines summarized above it contains more in-depth information regarding the brand strategy, storytelling, typography, color palette, graphic elements, and photographic style as well as helpful downloads to provide resources for all of those areas.