Communications | Branding

Brand Standards

How to Use the Guidelines

Who bears the responsibility for developing, strengthening and maintaining the McCombs brand? The answer is every staff or faculty member—literally. Taking it one step further, we recognize that students play an integral role, not only representing the McCombs brand through their interactions with recruiters and others, but also through their proper use of McCombs-branded communications materials, such as logos, taglines, etc.

Corporate partners lend credibility and support to the McCombs brand, and it is crucial that they understand the proper format for representing the school in promotional materials, Web sites, etc. Alumni build the brand through their communications efforts about—or on behalf of—the school.

In short, anyone who has a hand in creating or influencing the school’s outward expression— from marketing and publicity materials to event displays and promotional items—should refer to these guidelines often.

If you find the standards expressed here conflict with a particular communication goal of the McCombs School of Business or The University of Texas at Austin, please contact the director of communications, marketing and public affairs for advice on how to proceed.

For questions about these brand standards, please contact the McCombs Office of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs.

Strength Through Consistency

Consistent use of color, graphics, typeface and message content helps people quickly identify and more clearly understand our school and the university out of the thousands of images and messages that shout for attention in today’s world. When an academic institution uses different colors, layouts, graphic styles and messaging from one communications material to another, it gives the impression of:

  • poor planning or coordination,
  • turmoil in the organization,
  • lack of a clear academic path, and
  • the absence of tradition or a sense of purpose.

On the other hand, consistency in graphics and messaging makes it easy for people to form positive bonds with the brand. Consistency signals:

  • reliability and consistency,
  • longevity and strength,
  • wide availability and ease of access, and
  • a strong tradition and pride.

At McCombs we have established a consistent framework of brand identity. It should not be compromised out of a feeling that we have grown tired of it, or that our audience needs to see something different because last year’s brochure looked very similar. We must not camouflage McCombs or our individual programs and departments by covering communications materials in a variety of hues, design templates and paper stocks.

Media Touchpoints

Remember that prospective students, current students, alumni, corporate partners and others are not immersed in the McCombs brand day-in and day-out. They may experience the brand only once or twice, or every few months or years—and the consistency they experience from one touch-point to another must be reassuring and familiar.

McCombs is not alone in this philosophy. Top business schools across the country have adopted strong and consistent brand identities, and we must not adopt a lax attitude about protecting the value of our image.

Media Touchpoints

What We Stand For

Five core characteristics represent the McCombs brand in the areas of institution, academic/programs, students, culture and graduates/alumni. Each category is summarized below with a statement and a list of supporting attributes. These statements help us stay “on message” as we talk about the McCombs experience.

The statements used to describe these characteristics are not meant to be taglines or marketing phrases that must be used in materials, but rather they describe fundamental elements of the McCombs brand that will guide the development of marketing messages.

In other words, by keeping these characteristics in mind, we can ensure that our communications materials as a whole touch on the most important parts of our brand message. It is not expected that each and every communication piece will touch on all of these attributes.

McCombs Leadership Characteristics

Primary Logo

The McCombs logo is the only name and mark that represents the school. Official layouts of the logo are shown here. Three elements comprise the logo: 1) the distinctive design mark, 2) the university name set in the official font, and 3) the school name set in the official font. The stacked and horizontal versions of the logo are both acceptable, to be used at the discretion of the designer.

The distinctive design mark may be reproduced separate and apart from the school name in contextual situations where the association with the McCombs School of Business is clear. Examples would be posters, conference displays or brochure layouts in which the entire McCombs logo is prominently displayed in the near vicinity.

The proportional relationship between the design mark and the names is precise and must be maintained. Do not manipulate the size of individual elements or the relationship between the mark and the type. Consult the McCombs Office of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs if you have a question about logo use.

McCombs Logo types

Digital files of the logo are available online at:

Logo Approval Process

The McCombs Office of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs is charged with overseeing the identity and brand of the school. How and when our logos are used is an important part of this responsibility. Get guidelines and the approval process for using McCombs logos.

Generally, McCombs constituents (students, faculty, research centers, etc.) may use a McCombs logo on printed pieces without prior authorization, but they may not make alterations or additions to a logo. Logos on promotional items, such as T-shirts, caps and pens, require prior authorization by the McCombs Office of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs as well as the university’s Office of Trademark Licensing. The process for obtaining approval is described on the logo Web site.

School Name in Text

The name of the school when typeset in regular text (for instance, a paragraph in a brochure) is McCombs School of Business, with the first “c” set in lower case. Typically, the name should not be ALL CAPS in text, although that format may be used in a headline or subhead as the design dictates. In these instances it should appear as McCOMBS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS. Do not use the logotype in regular typeset text, as in: “Here at McCombs School of Business we have several MBA program offerings.” The full name of the school is McCombs School of Business. Generally the full name is used in the first instance within a publication. Additional mentions may simply use the name “McCombs” or “McCombs School.” “McCombs Business School” is incorrect.

  • Do not capitalize “the” if used before the school name.
  • Use lowercase “school” not “School” when it stands alone.
  • Avoid using “Red McCombs School of Business.” Our preferred usage in all instances is the last name only, “McCombs School of Business.”

University Name in Text

The name of the university is The University of Texas at Austin. Do not use the acronym “UT” or “UT Austin” when communicating to outside audiences. Use the complete name of the institution or refer to it generically as “the university.” When writing for strictly internal audiences familiar with the university, it is acceptable to refer to the university as UT Austin. For other guidelines on the use of the university name, word mark and other elements, refer to:

Incorrect Usage

Do not…

  • change the spacing between letters in the logo
  • use the logo within a headline, sentence or other text
  • add other graphic symbols or type to the logo
  • alter the letter form
  • use other fonts to create the logo
  • place the logo in a box or surround it with a rule or border
  • associate the mark with any entity other than the school
  • apply special effects that change the character of the logo
  • use colors other than the official logo colors

Incorrect usage of McCombs Logos

The preceding examples are not all inclusive. Please contact the McCombs Office of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs if you have questions about the proper use of the logo.

Color Palette

Below is the color system established for marketing and communications materials produced by the school. Beyond the brand palette (logo colors) there is a primary color palette—complementary colors used for design elements other than the logo, such as color panels used to highlight text or font accent colors. These primary colors help designers avoid the overuse of the two logo colors used in the design mark. Design layouts should generally not use a sea of orange or khaki gray. The use of white space and colors from the primary color palette create the right environment for the logo to stand out on its own merits. The colors of the logo (especially the orange) are powerful enough that they do not need to be surrounded by the same color. The secondary palette is for items such as sidebars, charts, graphs, color borders, etc. The Pantone numbers for coated and uncoated stock, as well as the CMYK and RGB values are noted.

McCombs Color Palette

Paper Stock

Paper selection is an integral part of the McCombs brand identity. To better unify printed communications for the school, the approved paper stock is limited to two options. One is a dull coated paper; the other is an uncoated stock. They have been selected specifically to provide a certain brightness of white. The dull coated stock is Lustro Dull Coated. The uncoated stock is Mohawk Via Smooth Pure White. Other paper brands may be used as necessary, but it must be white and match the color of white of the above-mentioned stock. Any deviation from these paper stocks must have prior approval from the McCombs Office of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs.

Signature Colors (Print)

The McCombs School of Business logotype may be used in specific color combinations, depending on the application and the colors available in the printing process used.

Signature Logo Colors for Print

Signature Colors (Merchandise)

Color options for merchandise, such as T-shirts, mugs, pens, etc.

Signature Logo colors for Merchandise

Clear Space Around Signature

The brand signature should have ample space around it. Do not crowd!

Clear Space around Logos

Brandmark Placement

The brandmark should appear on all marketing communications on the front cover. It is sized at 1/2 inch square and positioned 1/2 inch from the left and 1/4" from  the top. The primary McCombs logo should always appear on the back cover.

Brandmark Placement

Primary Typography

The McCombs School of Business typographic identity is visible across many applications, including print, electronic and environmental displays. To communicate in a consistent tone, type selections have been made that best represent the voice of the school. Interstate is the primary display typeface for McCombs communication materials. Three weights may be used. Do not electronically expand or condense typefaces. Interstate is available in Mac and PC format from Fonthaus.

Primary Typography

Secondary Typography

ITC Century Light is the primary text typeface. It may also be used as a secondary display font with Interstate. When setting text, the standard point size and leading is 9.5 pt. on 13 pts. of leading. This may be increased or decreased as space dictates. Do not electronically expand or condense typefaces. ITC Century Bold and Bold Italic may be used in text applications for emphasis, but are not to be used in other applications such as headlines. ITC Century is available in Mac and PC format from Adobe.

Secondary Typography

Typography (Web & Word Processing)

Arial may be substituted for Interstate when Interstate is not available. This is primarily for use in Web and word processing applications. Times may be substituted for ITC Century when ITC Century is not available. This is primarily for use in Web and word processing applications. Do not electronically expand or condense typefaces. These typefaces are widely available on most PCs and Macs.

Typography substitutions

McCombs Marketing Tagline

In marketing materials (brochures, advertising campaigns, etc.) for all audiences, it is appropriate to include the marketing tagline, “Where Leadership is Earned,” which appears with the logo in the treatments below. The tagline should not be used in other design treatments without prior approval from the director of communications, marketing and public affairs. It is neither expected nor desired that the tagline will be used in body text repeatedly. The tagline is a signature statement that supports and summarizes the brand message. There is no need to wear out the tagline or overemphasize it—these four words do not tell our whole story to every audience and need not be used in every occurrence of the McCombs logo. In fact, the tagline is not the most important expression of the brand, but is simply one tool for expressing the McCombs brand experience, along with many other aspects of the school experience. The tagline reinforces but does not overshadow these brand factors in importance.

McCombs Marketing Tagline

In addition, the university has a treatment of its tagline, “What Starts Here Changes the World,” which is to be included on long-form marketing materials such as Web site pages and brochures. This line does not “attach” to the McCombs logo and should not be placed so close to the logo or the McCombs tagline as to create confusion or dilute the impact of either line. On multi-page documents it may be placed on an inside page.

University of Texas Tagline


We discourage the development or use of additional taglines associated with the McCombs logo or the logo treatments for programs, centers, etc. This refers to lines of text that are “attached” to the logo as a signature statement on materials. However, this does not preclude the development of marketing themes that could be used in program-specific materials. The words can be used as a headline, subhead or graphic element on a layout. These marketing themes may last for a single campaign, or for many years, if appropriate. Obviously, program or department sub-brand themes should be consistent with the overall school brand. They should support the core brand characteristics—not conflict with them— and should be presented in a manner that does not crowd or replace the school tagline. Sub-branding should not include the introduction of variations from the standard McCombs logos, colors or graphic templates without prior consultation with the director of communications, marketing and public affairs. However, latitude is expected in terms of content, language, photography and other elements that will be specific to particular audiences served by the school. We are striving for brand consistency and continuity—not audience boredom or one-size-fits-all messaging.

Incorrect use of Sub Branding

The McCombs Brand Hierarchy

When the university is identified by itself, we use one of the official university logos, samples of which are shown here. These marks are available at:

Brand Hierarchy

The university’s official word mark is an integral part of our school logo and should be used as indicated here.

The McCombs School of Business offers academic programs and services across a broad range of audiences and disciplines. Academic programs and other centers have brand names that are part of the McCombs brand hierarchy. Academic degree programs have individualized logos for use in program specific materials.

Brand Hierarchy

Brand Hierarchy

Within the MBA and Ph.D. academic degrees, there are additional programs that require individual logos. This include six Texas MBA programs, such as Texas MBA in Houston, and five Ph.D. programs, such as Ph.D. Management. The logo version without “The University of Texas at Austin” text should be used for promotional items with stitching or embossing.

 Brand Hierarchy

Brand Hierarchy

One of the primary goals of brand building is to build a strong association between the McCombs name and the various programs and services provided within the school. The McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin is the only identity that represents us as an institution. When we communicate to the world as an official school program or department, we speak from that branded platform, and we should not assume program-specific identities to the exclusion of the McCombs brand. Research centers operating within McCombs also have logo treatments that tie to the McCombs brand. The logo version without “The University of Texas at Austin” text should be used for promotional items with stitching or embossing. There are additional centers in the school for which special logo treatments have been created. There may be additional treatments as required. Note that any individual logo treatment must be created in a manner that supports the overall McCombs brand and is authorized only by the director of communications, marketing and public affairs. Logo treatments use specific font and design specifications, and variations should not be created except through the McCombs Office of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs.

Stationery and Business Cards

The McCombs School of Business follows the stationery and business card guidelines set by the The University of Texas at Austin. All faculty and staff should adhere to the university’s business card and stationery standards. In order to ensure the school is following the university standards and templates, the school recommends ordering stationery, envelopes and business cards through University Services. For business cards, University Services has created templates to be used by McCombs School faculty and staff, which identify specific department membership. All faculty and staff should choose from one of these options. If an office chooses to order materials through a different vendor than University Services, the design must exactly match one of the business card templates. Contact for detailed specifications.

Business Cards

 A business card with the McCombs logo is made available for the use of students during the recruitment process. Only student business cards may use the McCombs logo. The McCombs logo is not approved for use on business cards for McCombs faculty or staff members. There is no letterhead or envelope option using the McCombs logo.

Student Business Card

Photo Library

Photography is also an integral part of the McCombs brand identity. To better unify printed communications for the School, the McCombs Office of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs has created a library of photography. It continues to be updated but can generally be classified as containing three types of photography: 1) portraits, 2) candid shots, and 3) architectural. Examples of the three styles can be seen on the following pages. As much as possible, we should try to either use images from this library or commission photography with a similar style. It is understood that some communications must rely on provided photography. While this is acceptable, it should be limited and should be approved by the McCombs Office of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs.

Photography (Portraits)

Examples of Portrait Photography

Photography (Candid Shots)

Examples of candid photography shots

Photography (Architectural)

Examples of architectural photography shots

Photography Usage

Photographs should be reproduced with straight edges and a minimum of effects. Four color process, black and white, and duotone are all acceptable reproduction effects. Blurred edges, round corners, unusual Photoshop special effects, borders, etc. are generally discouraged.

Correct usage of photography

Incorrect usages of photography

Exhibit Banners, Nametags

Exhibit banners and name tag examples


Examples of merchandise


For questions about these brand standards, please contact the McCombs Office of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs.

Page last updated: 4/18/2016