NC State and its units show many faces to a multitude of audiences. Our comprehensive brand architecture governs brand usage throughout the university, ensuring that units of every size and shape — from colleges to athletics teams to externally funded institutes — all unite to express the university brand consistently.
Where It Fits
NC State’s brand architecture defines the structure of the organization’s core and subsidiary brands: the different levels of brands, how the brand levels relate to each other and how they all relate to and reinforce the central brand.
Our brand architecture, like the NC State brand itself, is built on consistency and flexibility. Its structure creates a strategic family of brands that support and advance one another and elevate the core brand. It allows each NC State unit to establish and maintain a leadership position within its unique competitive marketplace.
NC State’s brand architecture has three hierarchical categories, detailed below.
In all cases, NC State’s Executive Brand Committee, headed by the university’s chief communications officer, determines final brand category designations.
The core brand is the foundation of NC State’s organizational reputation. It is the consistent expression of our university’s brand promise, brand drivers and institutional personality. The core brand drives the market positioning of all university units.
We express the core brand uniformly through consistent use of our logo, unit identifiers, a set of brand content drivers, unique personality characteristics and a recognizable visual identity — including typography, design elements, photography and color palette — that elicits instant audience recognition.
Except as otherwise identified below, all academic and support units and offices that serve or support the core mission and their primary target audiences operate under NC State’s core brand signature.
Core brands may add unit identifiers in the form of type, but this must be done in a manner consistent with the rules for units that apply to our logo.
Examples: colleges, academic departments, Admissions, University Communications, Online and Distance Education
As reflected in the university’s brand platform, a unique part of NC State’s brand is its collection of strong partnerships with industry, government and community organizations as well as other educational institutions. To embrace and enhance these partnerships, the university has created the category of extended brands.
Often multidisciplinary in nature, units that have extended brands tend to unite university faculty and staff with outside expertise to serve the public good.
Extended brands apply to university units that are supported by NC State and serve the core academic mission of the university but receive significant support from organizations external to the university. For the purposes of our brand architecture, support is defined as funding, staffing, facilities, business operations or other material support.
The Nonwovens Institute is an example of an extended brand. Established as a cooperative research center with matching grants from the National Science Foundation, the state of North Carolina and several industry partners, the Nonwovens Institute today receives its support in the form of membership dues, private research and product development, and analytical and pilot manufacturing services.
Extended brands must prominently and consistently carry the NC State logo and identity, but may co-brand and, in some cases, may also be granted permission by the university’s Executive Brand Committee to develop their own marks. The Executive Brand Committee will review requests and make recommendations to the university’s Chief Communications and Marketing Officer, who may grant permission for new marks when it is determined that doing so will serve the best interest of the university by allowing the extended brand to project an appearance of greater independence.
Examples: NC State Extension, Center for Human Health and the Environment, Nonwovens Institute
Sub-brands exhibit their own distinct personalities. Though indisputably linked to NC State, sub-brands provide a unique set of products or services, serve different target audiences or otherwise require their own market positioning to be successful.
Like an extended brand, a sub-brand receives support external to NC State. Again, support is defined as significant funding, staffing, facilities, business operations or other material support. However, a sub-brand is further distanced from the core brand in that its basic mission may also differ from the university’s core academic mission.
NC State Athletics is a primary example of sub-brands. Existing, at least in part, to boost student and alumni affinity, raise brand awareness and help drive enrollment, their mission is aligned with and complementary to the university’s core academic mission. Additionally, they feature self-funding mechanisms, supporting their operations via the sale of tickets, donations, media and licensing rights and sponsorships.
Two key features identify sub-brands like Athletics:
- Sub-brands are unique in the NC State brand architecture in that they do not always have to prominently display the brick logo.
- Like extended brands, the graphic identities of NC State sub-brands must be congruent with the general style of our core brand, but they may also co-brand and use their own marks. The Executive Brand Committee will review requests and make recommendations to the university’s Chief Communications and Marketing Officer, who may grant permission for marks when it is determined doing so will serve the best interest of the university by allowing a sub-brand to project an appearance of greater independence.
While sub-brands may not contradict NC State’s general brand platform and messaging, they may develop their own distinct messaging to serve their unique missions and highlight their differentiating advantages within their unique competitive markets.
Examples: athletics, Alumni Association, Howling Cow
(such as College of Textiles, Division of Advancement, Admissions, Department of Electrical Engineering)
|Funding, facilities, staffing or other material support comes from NC State||NC State core mission*||Must follow all NC State brand standards|
(such as Cooperative Extension Service, FREEDM Center)
|Funding, facilities, staffing or other material support comes from NC State and outside groups||NC State core mission*||Should follow NC State brand standards, but may be granted permission to co-brand in certain circumstances|
(such as athletics, Alumni Association)
|Funding, facilities, staffing or other material support comes from NC State and outside groups||Mission varies from core||Should follow NC State brand standards, but may be granted permission to co-brand and/or use additional marks in certain circumstances|
*NC State Mission Statement
As a research-extensive land-grant university, North Carolina State University is dedicated to excellent teaching, the creation and application of knowledge, and engagement with public and private partners. By uniting our strength in science and technology with a commitment to excellence in a comprehensive range of disciplines, NC State promotes an integrated approach to problem solving that transforms lives and provides leadership for social, economic, and technological development across North Carolina and around the world.