Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How were the guidelines developed?

    The guidelines were developed based on best practices in higher education visual identity programs after a review of such programs at universities comparable in size, complexity and stature to WMU. The strongest aspects of the 1997 guidelines were preserved and enhanced. The “W” Promotional Mark usage and color palettes were developed in consultation with personnel across the campus who produce communication and marketing materials for both academic and nonacademic units. Initial guidelines were reviewed by members of a marketing advisory committee. Feedback was invited over a period of time, and the guidelines were refined based on the feedback of members of that committee and the units they represent. The guidelines were then reviewed by the University’s senior leadership and endorsed by the president.
  2. Do I need to discard my old stationery and brochures?

    Your next project and those now in design should incorporate the guidelines. 
  3. Why can’t my unit use its custom logo along with a new unit mark that follows the guidelines?

    One of the problems identified in the initial stages of the branding effort was that Western Michigan University’s brand—both visually and perceptually—was soft and diffused because we were focusing on too many messages. Multiple logos are symptoms of that problem and work against a strong and visually compelling University brand. Existing icons or logos may be repurposed as illustrations or graphic elements.
  4. Will my unit lose its identity if its logo is replaced?

    No. Units may repurpose art from their previous logo as illustrations or graphic elements. Having a logo doesn’t equal having a strong identity. Logos take a long time to grow in recognition and elicit strong associations. A unit’s identity is made up of much more than an abstract graphic. Identity is a collection of impressions and set of associations based on your overall look and message. Your unit’s brand will grow in strength along with WMU’s overall brand strength.
  5. Is it OK to use the University seal instead of the promotional mark?

    The University Seal is the formal identity mark of Western Michigan University. It is used for stationery (letterheads, envelopes and business cards), diplomas, legal documents and other formal visual representations of the University. The use of the University seal on other printed materials requires the approval of the director of university creative services in the Office of University Relations. Contact university relations for more information about when it is appropriate to use the seal.
  6. Do the guidelines affect publication mastheads—the name of a magazine or newsletter, for instance?

    Publication nameplates may remain intact, but the name of the unit producing the publication should be incorporated into the design. The unit name must be presented in a manner consistent with the guidelines. Mastheads for Western News, Haworth News and the Western Michigan University Magazine are good examples of such established nameplates. If you produce a regular publication, keep the Office of University Relations design team in mind as a resource if you want to redesign, freshen a design or look for a way to incorporate guideline elements. The design of publication nameplates must be approved by the Office of University Relations.
  7. I love the University’s color palette, but it’s not appropriate for some topics/uses for my unit. What should I do? 

    There are some instances in which the primary palette of brown and gold is not appropriate for a particular topic or use. The palette does suggest many supporting colors that when incorporated can fit nearly any application. The design staff in the Office of University Relations can help you adapt the palette to give you the appearance of being part of the WMU family in a way that is appropriate to your need.
  8. Who do I talk to if my unit has logo/mark needs that fall outside the guidelines?

    Please contact the director of university creative services in the Office of University Relations to discuss your concerns.
  9. We’ve been working hard to “brand” our unit, and these new guidelines conflict with our efforts. What’s wrong with having multiple strong brands within the University community?

    The best brand for any unit on campus is the Western Michigan University brand. As the saying goes in the marketing industry, it is far better to build a branded house than a house of brands. That simple premise is at the heart of the issue these guidelines are intended to address. We need to embrace a single strong brand.  The alternative is a series of smaller, weaker brands that continue to diffuse the public perception of WMU. While units on campus may feel strongly that they need to differentiate themselves, the easiest and most productive way to do that is through using the WMU brand and linking that unit’s reputation to the strength and stature of the WMU name. External audiences rarely think about the individual units within the University. They see us all, appropriately, as Western Michigan University. That is a strength, not a weakness, and we can leverage that strength to the benefit of the entire University.
  10. We prefer to use the Bronco “horse head” logo for our visual identity. Why can’t we continue to do that?

    WMU’s guidelines use the W as the mark intended for use by units campus wide. The Bronco horse-head logo was designed exclusively for use by Intercollegiate Athletics, and there are strong guidelines for that mark that were developed when it was adopted. The mark remains one intended for athletics, but can be appropriate for competitive teams in other areas as well as University events and initiatives built around an athletic event. If your desire to use the Bronco horse head logo falls into one of those categories, you’ll need to work with the Office of University Relations and the licensing/promotions area of the Office of Intercollegiate Athletics to secure permission.
  11. How can we get help to make sure our unit is in compliance and supporting the University’s visual identity?

    Designers in the Office of University Relations are working to help departments and offices across campus ensure their units have the WMU look and feel. Do not hesitate to contact the director of university creative services to pose questions about the new guidelines or request design assistance.
  12. Why did my logo print fuzzy or pixelated when it looked fine on screen?

    Screen resolution is 72 dpi. For a quality print, 300 dpi is needed. For best results, always use the eps file for printed material.