The official graphic signature (logo) of the University consists of two elements:
The stylized words Washington State University set in the University’s official ITC Stone Serif typeface.
The letters W, S, and U arranged to form a cougar head, framed by a shield accented by a chevron.
Three variations of the signature (stacked, horizontal, single column) are available to maximize the ease and flexibility of applying it to various communications.
The logotype and mark are designed to be used as a single unit, as shown, for most communications. However, under certain conditions, the shield mark may be applied without the logotype.
The signature serves to identify the University in all forms of communications. The Cougar head embodies the tradition and spirit of Washington State University. The shield symbolizes academic excellence and higher education. Together, the elements represent the academic strengths, dignity, and reputation of the University as well as the Cougar spirit and the loyalty of its students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
Originally designed in 1936 by Randall Johnson, a 1937 WSU alumnus, the Cougar head is a widely recognized graphic symbol of Washington State University. Johnson modified the symbol in 1959 to reflect the change in the University’s name from Washington State College to Washington State University.
The standard WSU signature is comprised of a white Cougar Head, a crimson (PMS 201 or CMYK/Hex equivalent) shield, and a gray (PMS 431 or CMYK/Hex equivalent) logotype and chevron.
The application specific variants of the signature may reproduce the components of the signature only in crimson, gray, black, or white.
Additional exceptions may be appropriate upon approval from University Communications.
Light background: Use the standard crimson and gray signature.
Dark background: Use the standard crimson and gray signature, or reverse out all of the components to white, or reproduce a crimson shield with white chevron and logotype.
Light background: Reproduce all components in either solid crimson, gray, or black. If printing in black, a black shield with a 60% screened logotype and chevron is allowed.
Dark background: Reverse out all of the components to white. A reversed (white) shield out of solid black with a 60% screened logotype and chevron is also allowed.
Crimson and black: Reproduce the shield in crimson (PMS 201 or the CMYK/Hex equivalent) and the logotype and chevron in 60% black.
Crimson and gray: Reproduce the shield in crimson (PMS 201) and the logotype and chevron in gray (PMS 431).
The signature must be surrounded by the specified clear space to separate it distinctly from any other graphic elements, preserving its integrity and impact.
Clear space is equal to the height of a small caps letter from the signature. The clear space varies with the size of the signature.
Academic departments, centers, institutes, and other units whose roles and activities are critical to the overall mission and success of the University are required to use the WSU signature system that emphasizes their unit name or college affiliation as their primary graphic representation.
Secondary graphic marks or graphic marks created to use as a substitute for the University’s identity system are almost never allowed. Exceptions may be allowed if a unit meets certain criteria:
- The unit’s basic role is not linked to Washington State University’s mission; AND/OR
- The unit must operate in a retail environment and have a storefront; AND/OR
- The unit has multiple funding sources and operates as part of a consortium.
Example of an approved secondary mark
event-specific secondary marks
Secondary marks also may be created to promote a specific event, such as an annual lecture or a special anniversary. Secondary marks must be used in conjunction with the WSU signature system.
The four urban campuses, the virtual Global Campus, and WSU Extension use special signatures to identify each unit while strongly linking it graphically to the central University.
This signature option emphasizes the name of the department, center, institute, or college. The primary institutional identifiers — the shield mark and the custom-typeset words Washington State University — complement the unit name.
Some colleges may prefer that the name of the college, rather than a department, center, or institute name, is featured when this option is chosen. Check with your college communications manager to find out.
College signatures may be downloaded at right. In the future, an online application will be available to enable creation of other unit signatures. In the meantime, request a signature below.
When using a unit signature with the larger type size, clear space should equal a minimum of the x-height. When using a stacked version with smaller type, use the cap height.
Abbreviated signatures are for limited use only, primarily when these conditions are present:
- Space or reproduction considerations make it difficult to incorporate the complete version of the signature, such as when creating some types of branded merchandise (pens, key chains, lapel pins, etc.)
- The communication will be directed to audiences (usually local or regional) already familiar with WSU who will recognize the university’s academic mark
Horizontal abbreviated campus and college signatures are included in the unit signature download packages above.
The vertical abbreviated signature is the most flexible, allowing for variable font size. Because of the options possible, this abbreviated signature must be custom made to best meet the use requirements.
In the future, an online application will be available to enable creation of other unit signatures. In the meantime, request a signature below.
- Official identity mark representing all university units
- Communicates key aspects of WSU’s official identity: prestige, academic quality, innovation, leadership in higher education
- Because it’s the official mark of the University, treat it with care. Apply the mark sparingly and tastefully to communications. Other graphics should not compete or be combined with the mark. Follow the established clear space standards.
- For use by official WSU communicators representing the University’s voice
- May be used unaccompanied by the custom typeset words Washington State University in communications when the target audience would immediately recognize it as representing WSU. If you’re uncertain about the recognizability of the mark among your audience, use the complete WSU signature.
- shield mark
Freestanding Cougar Head
- Official identity mark incorporated into the official university signature of two campus units: Intercollegiate Athletics and Alumni Relations
- Communicates school spirit, friendly, casual, informal, bold
- For use primarily by WSU athletics, alumni organizations, university-affiliated groups, student groups, fans
- Other university units may use the mark for illustrative purposes
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a digital file of the cougar head mark.
The shield should be used only within one of the standard primary or unit signatures or distinctly separate from any other text or graphic elements, preserving its integrity and impact.
Surrounding the shield with a clear space of a minimum of 1/5 its width will separate it from other elements. However, more space may be necessary to ensure the shield does not visually combine with other text and graphics into a single graphic presentation.
The University Seal is a graphic mark reserved for use in the University’s most formal communications and official documents, such as diplomas and institutional-level certificates and awards. The seal is used instead of the WSU institutional signature or the shield mark in these cases.
The seal consists of a silhouette of George Washington encircled by the words Washington State University and 1890, the year of the University’s founding.
Contact University Communications for more information about when it is appropriate to use the seal.