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Department Branding

Stanford schools, departments, units, institutes, centers, labs and groups should use a department signature logo.

A department signature is logo which consists of the Stanford wordmark and an individual official department, administrative unit, institute, center or lab name. This combination functions as that group’s logo. Using a department signature represents Stanford and unifies the experience for people interacting with Stanford.

You can use the logo generator or download template files below to create a department signature logo.

Who should use a Stanford department signature logo?


  • Stanford schools
  • Academic departments
  • Administrative units
  • Institutes, centers and labs

Should not:

  • Individual people / professors / students / staff
    (i.e., Stanford | firstname lastname)
  • Student groups
  • Non-official groups (i.e., Communities of Practice) unless you are a recognized alumni group.

Why use a department signature logo?

Using the Stanford department logo system allows you to leverage our collective and global Stanford University identity. This is especially important for new departments/units as they build brand equity.

How a department signature logo works

A department signature logo should quickly identify a university department, unit or group within the Stanford ecosystem. There is more than one correct way to create a department signature logo. The logo can communicate organization hierarchy within reason, and it depends on how many (or how few) levels you need to include, or how formal or informal you need to be (for example: including “Department of” or “Center for” or not). Within our Stanford department logo system, text styles and sizes are used to communicate specific levels of hierarchy relative to the department, unit or group in question.

Icons should not be combined with department signature logos. Doing this can create confusion for people interacting with Stanford and undermine our visual identity overall. Icons may be used separately from the department signature.

Don’t combine an icon with a vertical or horizontal department signature logo.

However, flexibility within our identity system allows for individual units to create a unique visual identity through the creation of a department/unit identity sub-brand. This can be achieved by developing a custom icon (to use separately from the department signature logo), color palette, photography style, graphic elements, etc.

Use our Logo Generator to create a custom signature system

Using this tool, you can generate and download a Stanford department signature logo package which will contain the necessary formats (PNG, JPG, and EPS files) to complete your logo suite. It’s a good idea to create a horizontal logo package as well as a stacked (vertical) logo package so you have multiple type of formats to use in various ways.

Please be patient—it can take up to 30 seconds to generate the full logo package.

Department logo template files

In addition to the logo generator above, you can download the template files below to create your own department signature logos.

You will need Adobe Illustrator to customize the files below. You will also need our primary font Source Sans installed.

Horizontal logos

Unit (1 line)

Unit (2 lines)

Unit (2 lines, big/small)

School + unit (1 line)

School + unit (2 lines)

Multidisciplinary (or long school name + unit)

School + unit + level

School only

Alt school + unit (1 line)

Stacked (vertical) logos

Vertical – school

Vertical – unit

Vertical – school + unit

Vertical – school + unit + level

Department signature do’s and don’ts


Give it enough room to breathe. There should always be a buffer zone surrounding the signature or wordmark, with no type or graphics appearing in the zone. At a minimum, the space should be equal to the x-height of “Stanford” at any given size and extend above, below, to the left and to the right of the signature or wordmark. This applies to all signature and wordmark variations. Do not place other graphics or typography in the minimum clear space area, except for trademark designations when appropriate.

Make it large enough to read. Always make the logo at least .85 inch for print and 85 pixels for digital applications so that they are reproduced at a size where they are clearly legible.

Small merchandise such as pens and pins require attention to the minimum size. If the minimum size cannot be met, the logo is unreadable.


Don’t use a tagline in the department signature because it’s not part of the unit name.

Don’t use acronyms because they are not part of the unit name and it is often not clear what they mean.

Don’t use the Cardinal Red wordmark on top of black or dark backgrounds because there is not enough contrast for proper readability (use the all white version instead).
Don’t center unit names under the wordmark because the unit name should align left with the wordmark.

Don’t use uppercase semibold for anything but a university-wide initiative or a school because this font style is reserved to communicate that profile of organization and initiative.
Don’t use your department signature as a profile icon because we have a social media icon template for that.
Don’t use a second pipe to separate levels of hierarchy because unit level differentiation should be communicated through font weight and style.
Don’t combine an icon with a vertical or horizontal department signature logo.
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