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WSU Insider
News and Information for Faculty, Staff, and the WSU Community

New modernized WSU brand builds on 130‑year history

Hands at the keyboard of a laptop displaying a WSU webpage showcasing the latest brand refresh.
The new brand website provides tools, guidelines and more.

A modernized Washington State University brand that highlights the university’s core purpose and long-held traditions will be introduced to the WSU community beginning today.

Some two years in development, the evolved brand highlights WSU’s 130‑year commitment to unlocking the power of possibilities in students, faculty, and communities across the state and beyond. The university’s most powerful graphic—the freestanding Cougar head—symbolizes possibilities and is featured prominently, paired with a fresh sleeker typeface and the university’s traditional crimson and gray.

“Unlocking possibilities is at the core of everything WSU does,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “And since the Cougar head has always stood for the power of possibilities and the special down-to-earth, resilient, and spirited mindset that the WSU family brings to the table for any challenge, it made sense to feature our much-loved logo so prominently.”

Launching a new brand website

New assets part of this brand effort include updated logos for campuses, colleges, departments, and other WSU units system‑wide. The update also includes a new brand narrative, refreshed color palette, updated typography, and new visual elements, as well as guidelines for applying the brand to websites, social media, print, merchandise, photography, video and other forms of communication. The guidelines are available on a new brand website.

Brand training sessions

The brand training sessions will explore in more detail the following four areas: visual brand elements, narrative storytelling, social media usage, and the web design system.

New brand site overviewFriday, Sept. 17
9:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.

Join Sept. 17 Zoom session
Meeting ID: 952 7927 3709
Passcode: 801239

Web design system / social media usageThursday, Sept. 23
9:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.

Join Sept. 23 Zoom session
Meeting ID: 992 7902 6579
Passcode: 449864

Visual brand elements and narrative storytellingFriday, Sept. 24
9:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.

Join Sept. 24 Zoom session
Meeting ID: 917 9439 1175
Passcode: 320169

Visual brand elements and narrative storytellingThursday, Sept. 30
9:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.

Join Sept. 30 Zoom session
Meeting ID: 947 5291 4550
Passcode: 266202

Web design system / social media usageFriday, Oct. 1
9:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.

Join Oct. 1 Zoom session
Meeting ID: 963 2209 1605
Passcode: 129016

“This effort is an evolution, not a revolution of the WSU brand,” said Phil Weiler, vice president for marketing and communications. “It highlights the core strengths of WSU in a way we believe will resonate with all of our audiences and will increase our visibility in a crowded field of university competitors.”

Brand goals

When the brand work began, the goals were five‑fold: modernize the brand, represent the WSU system, highlight WSU’s unique strengths, bring the university’s brand attributes to life, and ensure the brand elements were easy to use on digital platforms and in print.

Quantitative and qualitative research was conducted to guide the work. The input of faculty, staff, students, alumni and other stakeholders indicated strong support for updating the brand to reflect the values and visual expression of the brand that stakeholders mostly closely relate to WSU—including the Cougar head, the spirited and supportive community the university is known for, and the colors crimson and gray.

The feedback also played a large part in the selection of the five tone words that represent WSU’s core qualities: down to earth, spirited, resilient, original and welcoming. Those qualities should be represented in WSU communications to ensure a clear and consistent representation of the university brand.

Brand integration

University Marketing and Communications already has started to integrate the brand into its marketing efforts and will continue to do so for all future work. The rollout will take place at a faster pace for digital communications while it will be more gradual for printed communications, which should be updated as existing inventories of materials are exhausted.

The WSU community is asked to follow the guidelines on the new brand site going forward when creating new communications. WSU Design and Printing Services staff are ready to assist in implementing the brand updates. In addition, University Marketing and Communications staff will offer online training sessions that will be repeated throughout the month.

General questions about the WSU brand may be directed to brand@lists.wsu.edu.

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