Northern's Brand

Sharing stories about our students, faculty and programs.
One of the responsibilities of Northern’s Communications and Marketing team is to present our story in ways that identify us as caring, welcoming and professional, and produce desired outcomes for stakeholders, including: increased enrollment, favorable reputation and financial support.
Northern's New Brand
Northern State University

Incorporating an “N” into the institution mark, used in various instances by NSU for decades, shows a united front that highlights a mark that is widely recognized by the community, region and state. The other key element of our new mark includes “NORTHERN.” Since its founding in 1901, NSU has gone through four name changes, each of which have included Northern, making the term a steadfast element for more than a century. Our use of the word Northern was solidified by the brand survey, which showed a high percentage of participants simply referring to the institution as Northern.



Branding Tools

Employee business cards can be ordered through the Business Card Request Form. See examples in the Brand Guide.

Review the official NSU colors in the brand guide.

PMS ​CMYK ​RGB ​Hexidecimal
Maroon ​202 ​0 100 65 47 ​153 5 51 ​990033
​ Gold ​121 ​0 8 69 0 ​255 204 102 ​FFCC66
​Beige ​155 ​2 10 31 0 ​248 221 154 ​F8DD9A
​Creme ​7499 ​1 1 14 0 ​255 255 205 ​FFFFCC

To request an authorized email signature, submit the Email Signature Request Form.

Review the official NSU email signature in the brand guide.

The Communications and Marketing Department plays an important role in the planning and promotion of events and activities on campus. If your department or school is looking to host an event, please reach out to nsuevents@northern.edu. We will set up an initial planning meeting and work through our event checklist.

Review the event planning services the Communications and Marketing team provides.

Illustrates and explains acceptable usage of NSU's key identity elements, including primary logos, lettermark, tagline, colors and more. Review Northern's design elements in the brand guide.

Letterhead can be ordered by emailing communications@northern.edu.

View a letterhead sample in our brand guide.

Beginning in 2017, the Northern State University Foundation entered into an agreement with CLC, the licensing division for Learfield IMG College, a trademark management company specializing in collegiate licensing and branding. CLC provides retailers and their vendors a formal process of submitting artwork for university approval. It also creates a structured payment of royalties from the use of NSU logos and designs. The NSU Foundation works with NSU Communications and Marketing personnel to approve artwork and promote our brand to regional retailers.

Frequently Asked Licensing Questions

If you receive a media inquiry, please reach out to us at 605-626-2552 or communications@northern.edu.

Employee name tags can be ordered through the Name Tag Order Form.

View a sample name tag in our brand guide.

The Communications and Marketing Department can assist campus departments and organizations with photography services. Please email communications@northern.edu with the details of your request at least two weeks in advance.

To view a list of approved marketing photos, please request access to Filecamp by emailing communications@northern.edu.

We offer a handful of PowerPoint templates; right-click the link below and select 'Save Link As...' to download to your computer.

To view a list of design elements or samples of print materials, see our comprehensive brand guide. To request print materials, contact communications@northern.edu.

Tap into NSU's vibrant social community, listed in the Social Media Directory.

Snapchat Takeover Request Form

Tablecloths can be ordered through the Tablecloth Order Form.

View tablecloth designs in our brand guide.

Northern State University

The brand refresh process revealed common themes of the university, and our new tagline captures those themes: a momentous time for enrollments, scholarships and campus development (unleash); a diamond in the rough, undervalued institution (potential); and a caring, supportive environment with a strong community (pack).

Read more about our tagline and brand essence in our brand guide.

Consistent use of type gives a recognizable look to all communications materials. These fonts are flexible enough to work across all media.

  • Univers family
  • Rockwell family
  • Avenir family
  • Bebas family
  • AS Speedway

These fonts may not be available in all programs, e.g. Microsoft Word.

Preferred fonts can be found in our brand guide.

The Communications and Marketing Department can assist with promotional videos, typically through an external vendor. Please email communications@northern.edu with the details of your request at least four weeks in advance.

Learn what makes a great video in our brand guide.

In addition, NSU Media Services offers limited video production services.

NSU communicates a consistent message using its Brand Voice and Writing Style Guide.

Discover the four levels of Northern webpages in our brand guide.

Second-tier pages, or pages that are one click away from the homepage, aim to draw the user deeper into our website, where more information is hosted. This page layout is graphic-heavy, with numerous photos and calls to action, and little text. Examples include: Admissions and Academics.

Third-tier pages are found deeper within our website. This layout typically contains fewer graphics but more information. Text should still be concise, as users rarely read full paragraphs of information. Examples include: Records and Registration and Costs and Aid.

Fourth-tier pages are deep within our website. They rarely include graphics, but contain a large volume of information. These pages are usually designed for frequently asked questions and detailed instructions. An example would be Transcripts and Diplomas.


If you have any questions or feedback, please email the Communications and Marketing team.

History of the Wolf

In the Feb. 3, 1923, edition of The Exponent, a contest was announced to identify a team name for Northern Athletics. No entries were received, but after two losses on the road, the basketball team voted to call themselves the Wolves -- and they won their next game, against Madison College. It wasn't until 1954 that the Exponent again announced a contest to formalize a mascot, and the NSU Art Department entered "Waldo the Wolf." Waldo made his first homecoming appearance in 1956.

Eventually, in 1993, the current mascot, "Thunder" was born. Then in May 1994, NSU announced a public contest to replace the logo rendering. Out of 65 entries, local artist Thomas Gross, a 1982 NSU grad, was selected as the winner.

In 2010 another Aberdeen artist, Josh Phillips, updated Gross’ design. Phillips’ design is now used across campus and was subject to an NSU trademark in 2020.

To learn more about current logo and graphics standards, read the NSU Brand Guide.

- Information from Ron Pollworth and Communications and Marketing