MSU Extension Brand Standards Toolkit

The MSU Extension brand is a distinctive and memorable representation of the organization that:

  • Announces our presence
  • Builds the credibility of our programming with audiences and partner organizations
  • Reinforces the sense of trust and loyalty that audiences have for our programming

Using the MSU Extension wordmark and other brand elements consistently on programming and promotional materials, apparel, signs and elsewhere, helps us to positively shape the way our clients, stakeholders and partner organizations think and feel about MSU Extension.

This toolkit is designed to guide you in following the MSU Extension brand standards so that our audiences are exposed to a consistent message whenever they encounter or interact with MSU Extension. The toolkit draws from the MSU Brand ( website. The site was developed and is maintained by MSU Communications and Brand Strategy (CABS), the university’s central communications unit.

What Is [a] Brand?

“A brand is not a logo, tagline, colors, TV commercials, or websites.

“A brand is perception. More specifically, it’s the sum total of people’s perceptions and experiences—what they think, feel, and respond to when they interact with an organization. And branding is the intentional process of shaping that perception.”

Source: “Brand Basics” ( from the MSU Brand website.

Brand Elements

This toolkit is designed to explain how to use the various elements of the MSU Extension brand – the wordmark, Spartan helmet, color palette, typography (typefaces), key messages, and tagline – on various print pieces (such as brochures, fliers, and educational and promotional materials), business cards, email signatures, web pages and other online materials, signs, apparel, and more.

The Wordmark

CABS has approved the official MSU Extension wordmark (see Figure 1) for use on educational and promotional materials, signs, and more, but not for use on apparel. (See “On Apparel” for information on the approved graphic for use on apparel.)

MSU Extension Picture

Figure 1: Use the official MSU Extension wordmark on educational and promotional materials, signs, and more, but not on apparel.

The Spartan Helmet

The Spartan helmet (see Figure 2) can be used on printed materials with or without the MSU Extension wordmark. The two elements may not be used so closely together (either side-by-side or above-below) that they appear to be joined, however. The helmet can also be used on MSU Extension apparel and signs (see the appropriate sections of this toolkit for guidance on those uses).

Spartan Helmet Image 1

Figure 2: The Spartan helmet can be used with or without the MSU Extension wordmark on printed materials, but must not be placed side-by-side with or so closely above or below the wordmark that the two elements appear to be joined. The helmet can also be used on apparel and on signs.

The Color Palette

The Primary Palette

MSU’s official school colors are green (see Figure 3) and white. Different applications and systems use different formulas to create the proper green for print, web, and other uses.

  • Pantone Matching System (PMS) color 567 – Mostly used by commercial printers.
  • CMYK: C=82, M=0, Y=64, K=70 – Used in four- or full-color commercial printing.
  • RGB: R=24, G=69, B=59 – Used in electronic documents, such as Word and PDF files.
  • Hex (web): 18453B – Used in web design.

Official MSU Green

Figure 3: The official MSU green and the formulas for creating it for various applications.

The Secondary Palette

The colors shown in the secondary palette (see Figure 4) have been tested for their appeal with a variety of audiences. The formula for creating each color in various systems appears below it.

greengraybright orangeturquoise

light purpledark graylime greentan

burnt orangelight greenpurpledark orange

Figure 4: The colors in the secondary palette that have been chosen for use in MSU-related materials (such as brochures, web pages, and educational and promotional materials).

The Typefaces

Two type families, Gotham (sans serif) and Californian (serif), are recommended for use in MSU Extension materials. If these typefaces aren’t available on your computer, you may substitute:

  • For Gotham: Helvetica or Arial
  • For Californian: Georgia or Times Roman

The Key Messages

When writing MSU Extension News articles, web pages, brochures, fliers, and other materials, keep in mind these three key messages from the MSU Brand:

  • Individual strength – We do well individually and excel when working in teams.
  • Collective power – We are skillful partners and we value differences.
  • Extraordinary impact – We are driven to deliver programming for a better tomorrow, helping individuals and communities around Michigan and beyond.


MSU’s – and therefore MSU Extension’s – official tagline is SPARTANS WILL. According to the MSU Brand “Editorial Content” page (

“Michigan State University’s official tagline is a uniting theme that communicates our value and purpose in a common language. It’s a call to action that differentiates MSU from other universities and speaks to who we are and what drives us.

“The ‘will’ carries a powerful double meaning. As a verb, it reflects action and the work that Spartans do every day to make a difference. As a noun, it describes the tenacious and indomitable spirit that exemplifies Spartans.”

“SPARTANS WILL.” should always be punctuated with a period with both words capitalized. It is generally a standalone signature or used to answer the question “Who Will?” Beginning sentences with Spartans Will (i.e. Spartans will save the day.) should be avoided. 

Using the Brand Elements

On Business Cards

The fronts of all MSU Extension business cards include the following brand elements and information (see Figure 5):

  • MSU seal
  • MSU Extension wordmark
  • Employee information:
    • Name (in bold)
    • Job title
    • Building name (optional)
    • Office address
    • Office phone number
    • Cell phone number (optional)  
    • Email address
    • URL of the MSU Extension website (
    • URL of the MSU Extension Bookstore (, optional)
  • Sample General Educator Titles\\
    • 4-H Program Coordinator
    • Administrative Assistant
    • Associate Director, Agriculture and Agribusiness
    • Associate Director, Children and Youth
    • Associate Director, Greening Michigan
    • Associate Director, Health and Nutrition
    • Associate District Coordinator
    • Associate Program Leader
    • Communications Coordinator
    • Communications Manager
    • Coordinator, Events
    • Data Systems Manager
    • Director, Agriculture and Agribusiness
    • Director, Children and Youth
    • Director, Greening Michigan
    • Director, Health and Nutrition
    • District Coordinator
    • District Support
    • Educator
    • Educational Media Coordinator
    • Evaluation Specialist
    • Fiscal Officer
    • Marketing Specialist
    • Program Assistant
    • Program Associate
    • Program Instructor

The backs of all cards except for those of district coordinators, or DCs, are blank. The backs of DCs’ cards list their district numbers and the counties in their districts (see Figure 6).

Business card 1

Figure 5: Sample business card format for all MSU Extension staff. The cards of district coordinators also have text on the back.

Business card 2

Figure 6: Sample business card format for MSU Extension district coordinators. The top image shows the card front, while the bottom image shows the card back.

Ordering Business Cards

To help maintain a consistent look and feel across the organization, all MSU Extension business cards must be ordered through the dedicated MSU Extension business card website. The site only accepts payment by MSU purchasing cards (also known as p-cards) or the credit cards listed there. Follow these instructions to order MSU Extension business cards:

1. Go to and log in using the following information:

  • Account: 4035msue
  • Password: orders
  • Your name: [Enter your name]

2. On the Order Menu page, choose either:

  • Layout MSUE1/Faculty and Staff (for all faculty and staff except district coordinators) or Layout MSUE2/District Coordinators (for district coordinators only).

3. On the next screen, choose a template by clicking on the correct sample card (layout MSUE1 or MSUE2), then:

  • Choose a quantity.
  • Complete the fields to populate the template with your information. Please note the following:
    • Required fields – Required fields appear in red.
    • Special characters – If your name includes a special character (such as the tilde over the ñ in Pizaña), insert it by clicking on the “Special Characters” box, then clicking the appropriate character.
    • Web address – Choose just the MSU Extension website URL or the MSU Extension and MSU Extension Bookstore website URLs.
  • Click on the “Preview” button to see what your business card will look like. Make any changes it needs in the appropriate fields, then click on “Preview” again to review it. (Note: This is your final chance to proof the card. What you see is what will be printed. Any errors that remain after this screen are your responsibility.)
  • Click on “Next.”

4. Enter your shipping address and payment information.

In Email Signature Blocks

The email signature block (see Figure 7) is designed to convey a professional image that is consistent with the MSU Extension brand. Preferred font is Arial with a font size of 9 or 10. Employees may add the MSU Extension wordmark and (when applicable) the 4-H clover, but it’s not recommended for two reasons. Email messages with graphics:

  • Are more likely to be routed into recipients’ junk mail folders by commercial internet service providers.
  • Increase the recipients’ data usage. This can be a particular problem for recipients whose only internet access is through a mobile device, because the increased usage may in turn increase their monthly bills.

Important note: All email signatures must contain the MSU Extension anti-discrimination statement and must not include superfluous content such as quotes, photos, or background graphics.

To set up or edit an email signature in Outlook:

1. Click on the “New Email” button.

2. Click on the “Signature” button, then click on “Signatures . . .” at the bottom of the dropdown menu that appears.

3. Check the popup window to make sure the “E-mail Signature” tab is active. Then follow the prompts.

Detailed instructions for Outlook 2013 are available here If you need more help, contact the ANR Tech Services Help Desk by phone at 517-355-3776 or by email at

Email Signature

Figure 7: Sample email signature block of an MSU Extension employee.

The signature block on second and subsequent email replies can be condensed to help shorten the overall length of an email conversation. (see Figure 8).

Email Signature 2

Figure 8: Sample shortened email signature block to use on second and subsequent replies in an email conversation.

On Envelopes

Use only the MSU Extension wordmark on envelopes (see Figure 9). You don’t need to replace your current supply of envelopes right now, just use the new design when it’s depleted and you order new stock. Contact ANR Creative ( for help with envelope designs.


Figure 9. Sample return address format for MSU Extension envelopes.

In Publications

The Spartan helmet can be used in conjunction with the MSU Extension wordmark in print and online materials. However, there must be enough spacing between the Spartan helmet and the MSU Extension wordmark that they don’t appear to be a single unit (see Figure 10).


Figure 10: Samples of appropriate use of the MSU Extension wordmark and the Spartan helmet on the same piece.

On Signs

The MSU Extension sign format (see Figure 11) is appropriate for indoor and outdoor freestanding and building signs. There is no need to do a wholesale change on all of your office signs right now, but if your office moves or you have another chance to buy new signs, work with your district coordinator to ensure that you’re using the correct design.


Figure 11: Approved design for indoor and outdoor MSU Extension signs.

On Apparel

Figure 12 shows the only design that has been approved for use on MSU Extension apparel. The Spartan helmet appears directly above the words MSU Extension. (Note: This design does not include the MSU Extension wordmark, which is not permitted on apparel.) The MSU Extension apparel graphic may only be placed on the left side of apparel such as shirts. No other graphic or text may be placed on the left side.


Figure 12: The only design that has been approved for use on MSU Extension apparel.

The 4-H wordmark or a limited approved graphic may be added to the right side of MSU Extension apparel, but must be smaller than the MSU Extension graphic. Contact ANR Creative for help with apparel designs at

Purchasing Information

Ordering Apparel, Printed and Promotional items

MSU Extension employees must work with approved vendors for printed materials (such as brochures, fliers, and educational materials) and with licensed vendors for apparel or promotional items (such as keychains, water bottles, and memory sticks) that include the following graphic elements or text:

  • The MSU or MSU Extension wordmarks
  • The Spartan helmet
  • Sparty wordmarks
  • Block S
  • The 4-H clover
  • Text representing MSU, MSU Extension or 4-H, such as:
    • Michigan State University
    • Michigan State
    • State
    • MSU
    • Go Green Go White
    • Spartans
    • Michigan 4-H Youth Development
    • Michigan 4-H
    • 4-H*

MSU funds, including county DS and operating DN accounts (formerly known as checkbook accounts), may not be used to pay unapproved vendors when buying print materials and unlicensed vendors when buying apparel or promotional items. Any MSU Extension staff member or person acting on behalf of MSU Extension (such as a Master Gardener or 4-H volunteer or a county employee) ordering materials through an unlicensed vendor will be held personally responsible for payment for those materials. (Note: T-shirts created by and for 4-H clubs that individuals or families are paying for are may only use the 4-H clover or text with 4-H, Michigan 4-H or Michigan 4-H Youth Development. They may not use the MSU protected graphics.)

MSU accounts can be used to buy apparel from the 4-H Mall and other 4-H vendors if the items will be given to volunteers, young people, or both. However, when purchasing apparel for MSU Extension staff members, the MSU Extension mark must be the most prominent mark on the clothing.

For more information about these parameters or to verify that vendors you’re considering are approved by MSU, please contact Fran Adelaja at

Order Approval

All purchase orders, p-card documents, and disbursement vouchers related to orders that include any of the MSU Extension brand elements will be routed to Fran Adelaja for approval.

For More Information

For more information about the MSU Extension brand standards or about ordering materials that include any of the MSU Extension brand elements, please contact Fran Adelaja, MSU Extension marketing specialist, by email at or by phone at 517-355-4698.

MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer, committed to achieving excellence through a diverse workforce and inclusive culture that encourages all people to reach their full potential. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, or veteran status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jeffrey W. Dwyer, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing, MI 48824. This information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned. The name 4-H and the emblem consisting of a four-leaf clover with stem and the H on each leaflet are protected under Title 18 USC 707. 1P-DRAFT-07:2016-FA/RM

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