President Waded Cruzado


rom President Cruzado:
Montana State University is nationally recognized as a leading land-grant university. As I have travelled across Montana and around the world, I am consistently amazed and impressed at the excellence of our students, faculty, staff and alumni who so elegantly deliver our land-grant mission of learning, discovery and engagement. To tell the MSU story in the most compelling way, it is essential to use consistent communications both visually and in terms of messages. When we speak with one voice, our message is amplified and more powerful.

The MSU brand guide is designed to give you all the information you need to create consistent communications. I encourage you to use this guide to reinforce your knowledge of MSU's brand strengths and key messages and follow these guidelines in your communications. Your voices are essential to deliver a consistent presentation of the university-whether through personal interactions with students, collaborations with your colleagues, or presentations to external audiences.

MSU has a great story to tell. When we tell the story with one voice, it becomes even more powerful. Thank you for your commitment to MSU.

Waded Cruzado 

Homecoming Parade

The MSU brand

Brand Promise: The Montana State University brand consists of our people, place, interactions and experience. Montana State University promises to be a leader in the integration of learning, discovery and engagement. The MSU brand is defined by the experience delivered to our students, the successes achieved by our alumni, and the innovative partnerships developed in communities we serve.

Reputation: At Montana State University, we are proud of our reputation for excellence in the integration of learning, discovery and engagement. Our university is consistently recognized as one of the top public research universities in the nation. MSU is designated as "very high research activity" (R-1) under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions. This combination means that our students participate in meaningful research and creative projects that not only enhance education, but improve lives in local and global communities.

MSU's increased visibility and enhanced reputation is demonstrated by the growth and profile of our student body, the increased involvement of our alumni and donors, and the enhanced downtown relationship.


Champ posing during the Annual M Photo

Why is it important?

One of our greatest assets is our Montana State University brand. Consistent use of university key messages and visual design allow us to promote and increase our brand recognition. Using these guidelines across all media will reinforce Montana State University's identity as a leader in the integration of learning, discovery and engagement and help us achieve our goals.

The MSU brand is what differentiates us. It's what sets us apart, so it is important that we be mindful of how our brand is presented. It is our responsibility to promote and protect the excellence that defines Montana State University. Consistent presentation will leave an indelible mark in the minds of our audience and help the university achieve the goals set forth in the strategic plan.



Gold Rush 2023

Who does this guide apply to?

This brand guide applies to all university divisions that communicate to our key stakeholders. All Montana State University academic, research, outreach, student services, administrative and affiliated units, must follow these guidelines. All university units help tell the MSU story, so it is important that all communications present a consistent and unified message. Outside organizations and sub-contractors, including student employees who are creating materials for any Montana State University division must adhere to these guidelines as well.

These guidelines apply to all external and internal communications, including, brochures, websites, advertising, invitations, direct mail, postcards, fliers, catalogs, posters, billboards, banners and other environmental graphics, video, DVD, CD, film, presentations and stationery.


These guidelines are supported by the following MSU policies:


Choosing Promise graphic

MSU Strategic Plan - Choosing Promise - Adopted 2019

MSU's strategic plan,“Choosing Promise,” articulates the university’s strategic direction and will serve as its roadmap through 2024. It states the university’s mission, vision and values. It also lists areas of intentional focus and goals, as well as metrics that will be used to measure progress toward those goals and the specific actions needed to help reach them. 


The MSU Logo and Tagline

MSU university-related colors

The MSU graphic identity program consists of logo and tagline information as well as branded fonts, color palettes and photography style. These visual identity guidelines apply to use of the MSU name, logo, and brand strengths in print, electronic, and video communications.

MSU colleges, departments, research centers and administrative units should not use logos other than the MSU logo.

The MSU name and logo is reserved for the exclusive use of the MSU community on university-related projects. Outside entities wishing to use the logo may apply for a license to create commercial products. Outside organizations wishing to use the MSU name and logo should describe the specified use and request permission from Julie Kipfer at [email protected].

The MSU Logo

The Montana State University logo is the primary representation of MSU and should appear on all communications. Departments promoting events and symposium should always ensure that the university name or logo is properly and prominently displayed.

Logo Symbolism:
Block M - The Block M is a tribute to the M on Mount Baldy that was built by students in 1916. According to the 1917 yearbook, the M stands as, "a symbol of our loyalty to Montana State and a reminder of what a united class can accomplish."

Arc - The M is supported by an arc that represents the reach across the state and communities that we serve.

Flame - Housed within the heart of the M is the flame of knowledge, the lamp of learning, the academic fire that is nourished through the integration of learning, discovery and engagement.

The MSU Tagline: Mountains and Minds
MSU's official tagline is "Mountains and Minds." The tagline was first implemented in 1983 to promote MSU summer session. It's roots are in the poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins: "O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall / Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed."

The tagline is highly regarded and recognized by our stakeholders across Montana and beyond. The tagline is recommended for use/inclusion across all communications.

MSU College of Letters and ScienceMSU Extension

Brand Extensions:
Academic colleges and agencies have been assigned a graphic that integrates their name with the core signature.

All academic departments and research units that are directly affiliated with an academic college or one of the agencies should use that organization's brand extension.

MSU Residence LifeMSU Career, Internship & Student Employment Services
MSU Thermal Biology Institute Header


Unit Identifier: If university administrative units that serve the entire university need to showcase their name in a small space, a unit identifier graphic can be provided. Unit identifiers are not designed to be used on MSU letterhead, business cards or websites. Please contact Alison Gauthier at [email protected] for a unit identifier graphic.



Montana State Bobcats athletic marks

MSU Athletic Marks

Montana State Bobcat athletics utilize several spirit marks to promote and enhance the visibility and build positive associations with Bobcat athletics. The family of athletic marks is reserved for the exclusive use of Bobcat athletics. These marks cannot be used by academic or administrative departments in their official communications.

Exclusive Athletic Marks

Use of the athletic and spirit marks by entities outside of the university is strictly forbidden. Vendors wishing to develop merchandise bearing the MSU or Bobcat name or logo must apply for a license through Collegiate Licensing Company. Businesses wishing to promote their service or product by aligning with the MSU Bobcats must negotiate an agreement with Bobcat Sports Properties.

For student use of the Bobcat logo, please see student use section.

For more information on Bobcat Merchandise: Bobcat Spirit

Vendors wishing to produce products bearing the Bobcat name or logo:

Champ athletic mark
Cats athletic mark
MSU Athletic M
MSU Athletics Bobcat Logo

Print Guidelines

All communications, whether printed or electronic, must include the proper MSU branding. The MSU core logo or the college brand extension logo is required on all communications. 

Sample Publications

Creative Services is available to help create on brand publications like the following samples. Click on image to enlarge.

MSU Academic Viewbook for the academic year of 2023-2024. Showcasing the many programs, facilities and reasons why MSU is the premier state university.MSU Mountains and Minds magazine for the Spring of 2023. Mountains & Minds covers the accomplishments of staff, students, and faculty across the university.Spring 2023 Commencement Cover. MSU celebrates biannually the graduates of MSU.

Click on an image to view as a slideshow.




Color Palette

The following type fonts are recommended for all printed materials. These fonts were chosen to complement the MSU logo and wordmark font. There are two classic fonts, one serif and one sans serif that can be used for both headlines and body text. A third font is a display font to be used for headlines only.

ITC Franklin Gothic Std OTF
Sans-serif - communicates a clean, modern impression; available in a wide range of weights. The main font use for the MSU business suite (letterhead, envelopes, business cards) publications and promotional materials. Arial can be used as a subsitute such as in the electronic version of the letterhead. Recommended for headlines and body text.


Adobe Garamond Pro OTF
Serif - communicates a sophisticated, classical impression.
Recommended primarily for body text, especially in correspondence and copy.
If Garamond is not available, Times New Roman can be used as an alternative.

Municipal, Rotunda and Helvetica are some of the supporting typefaces Creative Services uses in prominent MSU pieces. These typefaces can be purchased online or Creative Services can assist with projects where these fonts would be needed. Creative Services can be reached through its project form at: https://www.montana.edu/creativeservices/project-forms.html


MSU's primary color fonts are blue and gold, and we recommend using them in publications and promotional materials, particularly those that are targeted to MSU core audiences. Audiences, especially in the state of Montana, instantly recognize blue and gold as representing MSU.


Web Guidelines and Resources

The web is one of our most powerful communication tools. The university website, individual division websites and social media should speak with the same voice and present a cohesive look and feel across all channels.

MSU uses a Content Management System (CMS) called modern campus to deliver the university's websites. Most MSU websites should be in the CMS. MSU's web standards (logo, layout, typography, color palette) are designed into it. The CMS enables all university schools, divisions and departments to easily create and update their sites and remain consistent with the MSU brand, while still allowing enough flexibility to express their unique identities.

There are some sites that may be built outside of the CMS, and the review and approval of those website designs by MSU Web and Digital Communications must happen before they are published publicly. MSU Web and Digital Communications should be contacted early in the web development process to ensure design plans meet brand standards.

All graphical development for Web pages must be in accordance with the established Graphic Identity and Branding Guidelines, as well as the brand information found on this toolkit. The Web guidelines are an inherent part of the print guidelines, as all communications should be consistent across all mediums.

For more information about the CMS: Visit Web and Digital Communications

For more information on styling your pages within the CMS see the MSU Content Management System Help Docs.


Video Guidelines

Video has become an effective media to showcase the excellence of Montana State University and help the university and its departments achieve their goals. Just like other mediums, it is important to properly represent and include MSU branding. Several tools are available to brand MSU video pieces. 

Bumpers: Opening and closing graphics, called bumpers, are to be placed at the beginning and end of the video piece. Custom bumpers with college brand extension graphics are available upon request. Bug: The MSU logo bug is a transparent graphic that is placed throughout the video piece.


An opening bumper includes the MSU logo and should be placed at the head of any video project to brand it as an MSU production. The closing bumper identifies that the production is the intellectual property of MSU and should appear at the end of the production.

Opening (mov)

MSU Intro MSU Intro with SFX

Closing (mov)

MSU End  

Lower Third

Lower Thirds: To identify subjects in video productions, use a lower third bar in the MSU branded video style.

  • When adding subtitles to the video, use Arial or Helvetica font
  • When showing a name and title use:
    First Name Last Name: Jane Doe
    Department Name: MSU Jake Jabs College of Business

The graphic is an editable file so text can be updated. However, the selected font (Arial or Helvetica) should be used, as this is part of the MSU branding. Once finished, the graphic should be saved as a TIFF file with 'layers' and 'alpha channels' selected. This file should be compatible with most video editing applications. The graphic can be placed at the bottom of the image-safe area of the screen using keyframes or your editor's particular option for moving graphic layers.

Lower Third (psd)

Banner Blue Bar


The bug identifies the production as an MSU production. This graphic is placed in the lower-right corner of the image-safe area of the video and should remain on the screen for the production between the opening and closing bumpers. The bug is intended for video purposes only and is not appropriate for other print or online uses.


HD (1920x1080) 4:3

Film and photography on campus: Outside vendors producing films on campus for commercial purposes must comply with the film and photography policy and complete the facility use permit.
Campus departments and units filming their own video or contracting outside sources to film should:

  • Advise building supervisors.
  • Procure model releases for individuals featured in the piece. 
  • Receive authorization from a parent or guardian in order for minors to appear in an MSU video.

All videos produced using MSU resources must have MSU branding applied.

MSUTube is the central source for all MSU videos. Individuals wishing to have their videos included in the MSUTube feed must adhere to the above branding guidelines. University Communications has final sign-off on all video projects. Requests to post videos to MSUTube should be directed to: [email protected].


Spirit of the West performing during Commencement


The following guidelines apply to all communications such as brochures, posters, direct mail and websites.

The MSU photography style mirrors our brand personality-natural, authentic and focused on people. Photos should be high quality and highlight students and professors engaged in their dynamic learning and living environment. Imagery featuring students and mentors actively involved in research, creative projects and community involvement are preferred to snapshots of individuals or groups in static poses.

MSU photography is:

  • Personal-focused on the individual in their environment
  • Active-highlights students and professors actively involved in learning, discovery and engagement.
  • Simple, balanced, natural
  • Showcases ambitious, friendly people
  • Vibrant and captures diversity

Visual Media gathers imagery to illustrate news releases and key university events. Contract photography for specific print, web, or video projects is available. Any university entity using photography for marketing purposes should ensure that recognizable subjects have signed a model release form.

For more information on MSU Photography, contact Visual Media.