Our brand — “University of Southern Maine” — is the perception people have of us based on their direct experiences or the experiences others have shared with them. 

Our logo is the visual representation of our brand.

Our collective goal is to create communications that consistently reinforce the University of Southern Maine (USM) brand to outward-facing audiences:

  • Prospective students from in-state and out-of-state 
  • High school students getting a head-start on college
  • Undergraduate students transferring to us from a different college 
  • Working adults wishing to pursue a degree
  • Parents and family members of current or prospective students
  • Community members
  • Alumni
  • Donors

The value of branding

Every communication piece we create — from advertisements to flyers to tablecloths to campus signage — is an opportunity to visually promote the University and show our University pride.

A brand is a perception that constituents and the public develop through their experiences with an organization, company, product, or service.

In higher education, the word “university” has a strong meaning. Whenever we can use the word “university” — with our logo and/or full name in text — we convey academic strength.

People are more likely to engage with a brand they recognize and trust. Using our logo correctly ensures the consistency and recognition of our brand, which in turn, instills confidence in our brand.

Our logo is a visual representation of our brand attributes, which are outlined on this page.

Our University — our brand — is very much dependent on positive interactions and experiences with people seeking an affordable, quality undergraduate and/or graduate education. We recognize the importance of fostering a campus environment conducive to learning and our brand pillars emphasize this.

Brand pillars

As an academic institution of higher learning, we all thrive when we:

  • Embrace diversity and belonging
  • Pursue academic excellence and impactful research
  • Foster deep connections
  • Get involved and advocate for others

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion speaks to our University being a place where students will have access to a high-quality education — one that is student-focused and combines academic excellence with real-world experience — no matter their age, background, or experience.

Our actions and voice, in service to our students, should focus on and reflect our commitment to their success.

Our principles are based on the following:

A logo serves as a graphic representation of a brand. When perception through experience is positive and the visual representation is consistent, our constituents and the public immediately recognize and respond favorably to our brand — the University of Southern Maine.

There is only one official logo/graphic representation of our University of Southern Maine brand: the University of Southern Maine logo (with the column), which is available in a horizontal or vertical format.

Our Athletics teams are represented by our Husky mascot, Champ, and visually represented in several graphic variations outlined on this page. These variations can also be used to promote school spirit for events or other initiatives. Read more on this topic.

IMPORTANT: Athletics graphics and event or initiative graphics should be used in conjunction with the University of Southern Maine logo.

Instead of a logo, we will work with you to create an event or initiative graphic as a way to graphically represent your University event or initiative (such as our Safe Zone initiative).

Our University of Southern Maine logo should also appear on any materials promoting your event or initiative. This benefits the event, to have the power of the University brand behind it, and it strengthens the brand by showcasing the variety of events and initiatives at the University.

As we continue to position ourselves as a premier public university where diversity of age, experience, and background come together to build an academically robust learning environment, we must also emphasize, whenever possible, our status as a university.

Over the past 20+ years, our full name, University of Southern Maine, has been shortened to “USM” so often that we’ve effectively renamed ourselves USM.

The overuse of “USM” raises the following issues:

  • We lose the benefit of the word “university.” “University” has a specific meaning and conveys gravitas that supports our mission of equity and excellence. An acronym does not hold the same power.
  • People move to Maine from all over the world. New residents can immediately recognize what the University of Southern Maine is, whereas “USM” is another new acronym to learn.
  • We’re increasing out-of-state recruitment efforts. “USM” has little to no meaning for out-of-state students and their families. Worse, they may confuse us with other entities who share the same, or a similar, acronym.
  • Brand equity. Since 1978, when our name officially changed to the University of Southern Maine, we have worked hard (and invested millions of dollars) to build our reputation and awareness. This effort is undermined by the “USM” acronym.

How to best communicate our university status

While we recognize the need to convey everything we offer to each of our audiences based on their needs, the way we speak about our University should be consistent in both written and verbal interactions.

Approved university naming designations:

  • University of Southern Maine
  • The University 
  • Our University
  • We, our, us

In written communication, our full name should be spelled out when the University is first mentioned or cited, with “USM” in parentheses: 

  • University of Southern Maine (USM)

Any subsequent references to our University may vary slightly, depending on the audience you are addressing.

CommunicationsFirst mentionSubsequent mentions
External: To the public, legislators, etc.University of Southern Maine (USM)University of Southern Maine, our University, we, our, us
Internal: To students, faculty, and staffUniversity of Southern Maine (USM)University of Southern Maine, our University, we, our, us
Media coverageUniversity of Southern Maine (USM)University of Southern Maine, the University

The “USM” acronym should be used sparingly or when necessary for genuine space limitations (such as social media hashtags).

NOTE: Placing “USM” before the name of a department, office, school, program, etc. is not necessary nor beneficial. As a reminder, “University of Southern Maine” is our brand. “USM” is not a brand.

“USM” as a nickname

“USM” is still very much welcome as a University nickname.

Acceptable usage of “USM” includes:

  • University Store merchandise
  • Student group/organization materials
    • T-shirts, banners, posters, etc.
  • Materials supporting school spirit

If you have any questions or concerns about the proper usage of our University name or acronym, contact Tracy St. Pierre.

Use the following text as needed (edit where necessary) on your communications pieces and publications. This boilerplate language serves as the official University of Southern Maine description.

The University of Southern Maine (USM) is located in Maine’s largest city and economic and cultural center. Our students can take advantage of a beautiful, outdoor-centric locale combined with opportunities not readily available in more populous states. We offer internship access to local and state governments, local, national, and international businesses, minor league sports teams, and renowned music and arts organizations.

We purposefully cultivate a community with varied ages, backgrounds, and experiences to build an academic environment rich with diversity in perspectives and ideas. This results in more well-rounded learning as our students engage one another, build understanding, and learn to advocate for themselves and each other.

Our University has a long-standing reputation for high-impact involvement, and rightfully so. Our accomplished faculty — Guggenheim fellows, Fulbright Scholars, advisors to state and local governments, and published authors among them — teach and work as consultants in their fields, which keeps them involved in changing issues and trends.

Many faculty involve undergraduate students in research and entrepreneurial projects, providing unparalleled access to critical, direct-learning experiences. Our dedication to community engagement benefits both our students and our communities and is evidence that motivated people can make a big difference — especially in a small state.

Official University logos and graphics

The logo for the University of Southern Maine must appear as described by the Office of Marketing and Brand Management and must not be disassembled, reassembled, or changed in any way.

This includes utilizing the column icon alongside other words, such as college, school, office, department, event, club, or organization names.

To enable consistency of use and clear communication, our logo should appear at least once on any marketing or communication materials.

Our logo variations.

NOTE: The watermark shown is not part of the official logo.

Either the official horizontal or vertical University of Southern Maine logo must be used with the college, school, department, program, or office name in a “lockup” format beneath it.

An example department logo lockup.

Colleges, schools, offices, departments, programs, events, clubs, and organizations are part of the University of Southern Maine; they are not brands unto themselves.

If you need a logo lockup for your academic department or administrative office, contact Greg Daly.

NOTE: These graphics are subject to the same usage guidelines as our logo.

Our University mascot is a Husky named Champ. The Southern Maine Huskies graphic, with or without Champ, represents our athletics teams.

It was designed to communicate competitiveness and fierceness and can be used to promote Department of Athletics’ efforts or school spirit (e.g., on t-shirts or event banners).

The athletics graphic must be used in combination with the official University of Southern Maine logo on any materials created.

Primary Southern Maine Huskies graphic

The primary athletics graphic officially represents our athletics teams and incorporates our University brand colors. This graphic should be used in the majority of cases because it identifies both “Southern Maine” and “Huskies.” The default option is a typical 4-color version. Other variants are also available.

Additional graphics for Southern Maine Huskies

Before using one of the secondary athletics graphics, consider whether or not your audience is familiar with the University of Southern Maine and the Southern Maine Huskies.

The secondary graphics should never be used in place of the primary Southern Maine Huskies graphic on any official communications (e.g., business communications or marketing materials).

NOTE: These graphics are subject to the same usage guidelines as our logo.

University Champ

An option for those seeking to utilize our Husky mascot but prefer an alternative to the “fierce” or “competitive” athletics version, is University Champ. This Husky can be used on a variety of materials to support events and initiatives for students, faculty, staff, and even prospective students.

A selection of example University Champ graphics.

To discuss specific customizations to University Champ, contact Greg Daly. A nominal fee may be applicable.

University Seal

An example of the University Seal graphic.

This graphic represents the Office of the President. The University Seal is limited — but not required — to use on materials supporting presidential initiatives or at presidential events.

As of 2018, the University Store is authorized to use the University Seal on giftware and merchandise.

If you’re interested in using the University Seal, contact Greg Daly.

Social media icons/avatars

Valid examples of the flexibility needed in branding include social media avatars since Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. often do not allow for any brand’s full logo to be used.

Signage on campus is an opportunity to represent our University in a professional manner and provide a consistent visual experience for current students, faculty, staff, prospective students, and their families, as well as any visitors.

Campus signage can include exterior, interior, permanent, and temporary placement. Specific examples of signage include wayfinding, event banners and posters, and room signs (room numbers, bathroom signs, conference rooms, etc.). If you have questions about what constitutes a campus sign, contact Tracy St. Pierre.

Facilities must be involved at the start of any signage project, due to the need for mounting the final product to campus buildings or assets (such as the Alumni Skywalk), either permanently or temporarily. Signage design can be managed by the Office of Marketing & Brand Management or an outside firm; outside firms must adhere to University brand guidelines.

An example of an outdoor campus sign.

For maximum readability, the ideal colors for campus signage are either gold lettering on a dark blue background or dark blue lettering on a gold background. An alternative of white lettering on a dark blue background is also acceptable.

Outdoor campus signs for buildings, etc. should include the University logo and utilize University colors and fonts as shown.

Indoor campus signs for room names or numbers, etc. should utilize white text on a University blue background, for maximum visibility. The logo is not required for indoor signage of this nature.

We recognize the desire for flexibility with graphics and will work with you to develop supplementary visuals — to be used in combination with the official University of Southern Maine logo — that help graphically support special events or initiatives at the University.

A selection of example event and initiative graphics.

If you’re interested in having an event or initiative graphic created, contact Greg Daly.

Primary color palette

Our primary brand colors are blue and gold. It’s essential that these identifying colors appear to some degree in any outward-facing materials.

The combination of blue and gold tends to be bold and vibrant. With that understanding, we established a balance between blue and gold by featuring, at minimum, 75% of one color and 25% of the other color in a given design. Our typical building signage illustrates our use of this balance.

Color namePantoneCMYKRGBHSBHEX
USM blue648CC: 100%
M: 86%
Y: 36%
K: 31%
R: 0
G: 45
B: 93
H: 211º
S: 100%
B: 36%
#002752
USM gold130CC: 2%
M: 38%
Y: 100%
K: 0%
R: 245
G: 168
B: 0
H: 41º
S: 100%
B: 96%
#F5A800

Secondary color palette

Our secondary colors are complementary to our blue and gold and are intended to be used sparingly in design layouts. Adding secondary colors to a design enhances the impact of your communication in relation to the accompanying imagery or artwork.

Color nameCMYKRGBHSBHEX
Dark grayC: 75%
M: 65%
Y: 58%
K: 56%
R: 46
G: 51
B: 56
H: 210º
S: 18%
B: 22%
#2E3338
Light grayC: 33%
M: 22%
Y: 22%
K: 0%
R: 173
G: 182
B: 186
H: 198º
S: 7%
B: 73%
#ADB6BA
Dark greenC: 74%
M: 49%
Y: 97%
K: 57%
R: 43
G: 62
B: 26
H: 92º
S: 57%
B: 24%
#2B3E1A
Light greenC: 23%
M: 0%
Y: 65%
K: 0%
R: 204
G: 223
B: 127
H: 72º
S: 43%
N: 88%
#CCDF7F
Dark blue-greenC: 92%
M: 62%
Y: 61%
K: 61%
R: 1
G: 47
B: 51
H: 185º
S: 97%
B: 20%
#012F33
Light blue-greenC: 49%
M: 2%
Y: 18%
K: 0%
R: 125
G: 201
B: 209
H: 185º
S: 54%
B: 82%
#60C7D1
Dark blueC: 97%
M: 93%
Y: 46%
K: 60%
R: 14
G: 16
B: 51
H: 237º
S: 69%
B: 20%
#0E1033
Light blueC: 34%
M: 26%
Y: 0%
K: 0%
R: 165
G: 176
B: 218
H: 227º
S: 22%
B: 85%
#AAb4DA
Dark purpleC: 84%
M: 100%
Y: 30%
K: 47%
R: 50
G: 14
B: 70
H: 278º
S: 81%
B: 28%
#320D46
Light purpleC: 48%
M: 50%
Y: 0%
K: 0%
R: 141
G: 130
B: 190
H: 250%
S: 31%
B: 74%
#8D82BE
Dark brownC: 38%
M: 75%
Y: 100%
K: 48%
R: 101
G: 53
B: 19
H: 25º
S: 81%
B: 40%
#653513
Light brownC: 10%
M: 21%
Y: 67%
K: 0%
R: 232
G: 195
B: 111
H: 42º
S: 52%
B: 91%
#E8C36F
Dark redC: 31%
M: 100%
Y: 100%
K: 44%
R: 115
G: 16
B: 18
H: 359º
S: 86%
B: 45%
#731012
Light redC: 14%
M: 57%
Y: 100%
K: 2%
R: 211
G: 127
B: 40
H: 31º
S: 81%
B: 83%
#D37F28

Typefaces for print materials

The only typefaces approved for use on print materials are:

  • Garamond (all fonts and weights)
  • Gotham (all fonts and weights)
  • Helvetica Neue LT Std (all fonts and weights)

These typefaces can be used in an array of combinations and weights to give the illusion of more variety. If you don’t have these typefaces (or fonts) available on your computer, contact Greg Daly, and we can provide them to you.

An example of what each approved typeface looks like.

Replacement typefaces for print materials

Sometimes the typeface (or font) files we provide won’t work on your computer. In that case, these standard system fonts are acceptable* replacements:

  • Century Gothic (all fonts and weights)
  • Arial (all fonts and weights)
  • Times (all fonts and weights)
An example of what each approved replacement typeface looks like.

*NOTE: Replacement typefaces are mainly for body text or header/footer text. These typefaces should not be used for large displays such as posters, banners, etc.

Typefaces for digital materials

In print, serif fonts like Garamond or Times New Roman help keep your eyes following one line of text across a page; the opposite is true of reading text on a screen. It’s easier to consume digital copy when we use serif fonts sparingly (e.g., in headlines) and stick to sans-serif fonts like Helvetica or Arial for the bulk of the text on-screen.

Universally available typefaces for websites and customized HTML emails are few due to the vast number of internet-enabled devices available. To help stay on-brand, font stacks allow us to serve up a predefined, ordered list of approved typefaces or fonts. If a font stack cannot load the first font in the list, it will move through the list until one can load on your device.

Website font stack:

  • Lato, sans-serif

Email font stacks:

  • Headline: Times, Times New Roman, serif
  • Body Text: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif

Writing

The purpose of all written communication is to provide our audiences with clear, error-free information about the people, places, and events occurring at and relating to the University of Southern Maine.

Writers should pay particular attention to voice, audience, and creating an effective call to action (or CTA) — the action your readers should take (e.g., “register today” or “apply now”) — in all written University communications. There are also specific considerations for print and digital communications outlined below.

Who are you trying to reach? There may be many different audiences who will interact with your print piece, webpage, or email, but you should direct your copy toward one specific group — your primary audience.

Primary audience

The key group of people you’re trying to reach. Your copy should present clear, concise information that will lead your audience to take the action you desire.

Points to consider:

  • Why is your primary audience interested in your copy?
  • What does your primary audience need to learn or accomplish?
  • What are the top five questions your primary audience may have?
  • What action do you want your primary audience to take after reading your copy?

Secondary audience

Your copy may include some information beneficial to an additional group of people outside of your primary audience. For instance, a print or digital piece with a primary audience of alumni may also include relevant information for a secondary audience of local businesses.

Examples of University audiences:

  • Internal
    • Current students
    • Faculty
    • Staff
  • External
    • Alumni
    • Donors
    • Prospective students
    • Parents and family members
    • School administrators, teachers, coaches, etc
    • Local businesses

There may also be other audiences or specific segments of audiences you need to reach.

As our audiences engage with our brand, we’d like to ensure that they encounter a clear, consistent voice no matter the medium.

The University of Southern Maine voice:

  • Is familiar and personable
  • Speaks directly to the reader (second person)
  • Uses “you,” “we,” and “our” (first person)
  • Is engaging, lively, and welcoming
  • Is positive and supportive
  • Uses the active voice (not the passive voice)
  • Is formal and scholarly when writing about academics (such as program descriptions)
  • Does not use internal jargon or abbreviations
  • Welcomes diversity of ages, backgrounds, and ideas knowing that our academic environment is strengthened through engaging and civil discourse

All print and digital marketing communications should compel the reader to complete a specific action, such as:

  • Register today
  • Visit us
  • Call for more information
  • Browse scholarships

Make it as simple as possible for your audience to accomplish the CTA. For instance, on a webpage, once a user selects a CTA of “Browse scholarships,” they should arrive on a page where they can browse available scholarships.

In other words, your CTA should drive your audience to a source with all the details or information related to the topic they were just reading about.

Determine the University staff and faculty who hold the facts about the program or event you’re promoting. Then, connect with those folks (or SMEs) to gather all the pertinent information you need. Finally, craft your copy to communicate that information to your primary audience as clearly and succinctly as possible.

Remember to use CTAs to drive your audience to sources with all the information they need to take action.

Web users do not read websites — they scan or skim, so be brief.

More than 45% of the users on our public website are accessing it on their mobile devices. Keep this in mind as you structure your copy.

Here are some general guidelines:

Communication objective

Each page within a subsite should have one communication objective.

Copy (or text) length

  • Copy should be brief and browsable
  • Limit copy to a maximum of 700 words per page — shorter is better
  • Use short paragraphs with a maximum of 4 sentences
  • Use short sentences

Formatting

  • Use headings, when appropriate, to break up your copy into scannable sections
  • Use bullets whenever appropriate
  • Use bold or italics to emphasize text
    • Do not underline text for emphasis, this implies that there is a hyperlink

PDF use

Avoid using PDFs to share content as they do not meet accessibility standards by default. Most PDF content can easily become a webpage, which is quicker to update and distribute — and, most importantly, can be read by a screen reader.

Review

When drafting copy for the web, resize your application window to the approximate width of a mobile phone screen to determine if the text is still readable and browsable on a small screen.

Links

When including a text link (or hyperlink), avoid using CTAs like “click here” or including the entire URL — these are not screen reader-friendly links. Instead, add a hyperlink to action words (CTAs) that describe where the link will take your audience, like “learn more” or “email us” or “register now.”

Correct format:
Incorrect format:

Every link is a chance for your audience to leave your webpage and not return. Consider the following:

  • Does this link pertain to your primary or secondary audience?
  • Does this link support your communication objective and your CTA?
  • If you plan to link to content on another subsite within the University’s website, check with the department, college, or school to ensure that they are regularly maintaining that page.
  • If you must link to a website outside of the usm.maine.edu domain, set the link target to “new window.”

Ongoing maintenance

If a user visits your webpage, they will assume it’s up-to-date. If it’s not up-to-date, that harms the credibility of both your subsite and all other pages on our website.

  • When planning your webpage or subsite, determine who will be responsible for regularly reviewing the content to ensure accuracy.
    • Determine which Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) should be looped in on the process.
  • If your webpage content expires at a specific time, schedule a reminder in your calendar to update the content or unpublish/delete the page.
    • Don’t forget to update any other pages, content, or navigation items that link to this page.
  • News posts: These include a date stamp above the page title, the option to back-date a post, and can remain published at your discretion.

Text in, on, or as images

Avoid using text in an image format (.jpg, .gif, .png, etc.). Due to website accessibility standards, images on any digital platform should not include text.

Screen readers, for example, are unable to distinguish words from other elements in the image — everything blends into pixels and the copy is essentially invisible.

Before drafting copy for print material, determine the following:

  • Format: Trifold brochure, booklet, postcard, etc.
  • Delivery method: Mail, handout, poster, brochure rack, etc.
  • Size: This affects the amount of space available for text
  • Lifespan: How long will this information be accurate?

While drafting your copy, consider the following:

  • Be clear and concise
  • Include a short URL to your website
    • Readers will not take the time to type a long URL into their mobile device or desktop browser
    • Detailed and time-sensitive information is quick and easy to add or update digitally
    • Request a short URL (or redirect) for your print piece
  • Allow for white space — eyes need to breathe

Abbreviations, formatting, and grammar

The University follows the Chicago Manual of Style for all print and digital marketing communications, including our website.

To help maintain consistency in how we communicate specific details, we created this brief guide to proper usage. For additional grammar guidelines, please consult The Chicago Manual of Style.

University name usage

In written communication, our full name should be spelled out when the University is first mentioned or cited, with “USM” in parentheses: 

  • University of Southern Maine (USM)

Any subsequent references to our University may vary slightly, depending on the audience you are addressing.

CommunicationsFirst mentionSubsequent mentions
External: To the public, legislators, etc.University of Southern Maine (USM)University of Southern Maine, our University, we, our, us
Internal: To students, faculty, and staffUniversity of Southern Maine (USM)University of Southern Maine, our University, we, our, us
Media coverageUniversity of Southern Maine (USM)University of Southern Maine, the University

The “USM” acronym should be used sparingly or when necessary for genuine space limitations (such as social media hashtags).

NOTE: Placing “USM” before the name of a department, office, school, program, etc. is not necessary nor beneficial. As a reminder, “University of Southern Maine” is our brand. “USM” is not a brand.

“USM” as a nickname

“USM” is still very much welcome as a University nickname.

Acceptable usage of “USM” includes:

  • University Store merchandise
  • Student group/organization materials
    • T-shirts, banners, posters, etc.
  • Materials supporting school spirit

If you have any questions or concerns about the proper usage of our University name or acronym, contact Tracy St. Pierre.

Acronyms

Avoid using acronyms when referring to programs or courses — they’re considered internal language and risk reader confusion.

If you need to use an acronym, include the full name upon first use, followed by the acronym in parenthesis. All subsequent instances may use the abbreviation.

Correct format:

The Greater Portland Transit District (METRO) offers a bus line between the University of Southern Maine (USM) Portland and Gorham campuses. Students, staff, and faculty must show their USM Campus ID cards to ride the METRO lines for free.

Incorrect format:

The METRO offers a bus line between the USM Portland and USM Gorham campuses. Students, staff, and faculty must show their USM Campus ID cards to ride the METRO lines for free.

Alumni

  • Always use a reverse apostrophe to denote the graduating year of alumni
  • “Alum” refers to one non-binary graduate
  • “Alumnus” refers to one male graduate
  • “Alumna” refers to one female graduate
  • “Alumni” refers to two or more former students
Correct format:
  • Lisa Johnson ’09
  • Matt Smith ’77
Incorrect format:
  • Lisa Johnson, ‘09
  • Matt Smith, 1977

Commas

When listing multiple items in a sentence, use the Oxford (or serial) comma.

Correct format:

He had a textbook, a backpack, and a laptop.

Incorrect format:

He had a textbook, a backpack and a laptop.

Campuses

The word “campus” should always be lowercase when attached to one of our three locations.

NOTE: Lewiston-Auburn College is on the Lewiston campus

Correct format:
  • Join us on the Portland campus for a fun event.
  • We will meet on the Gorham campus.
  • The Lewiston campus is a 45-minute drive from the Portland campus.
Incorrect format:
  • Join us on the Portland Campus for a fun event.
  • We will meet on the Gorham Campus.
  • The Lewiston Campus is a 45-minute drive from the Portland Campus.

Colleges, schools, and departments

When referring to the formal name of a college, school, or department, use title case capital letters.

Do not capitalize generalized areas of study.

Correct format:
  • We offer several options for business majors.
  • We offer several majors in our School of Business.
  • Learn more about our nursing programs.
  • Learn more about our School of Nursing.
  • College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
  • School of Education and Human Development
Incorrect format:
  • We offer several options for Business majors.
  • We offer several majors in our Business school.
  • Learn more about our Nursing programs.
  • Learn more about our Nursing school.
  • College of arts, humanities, and social sciences
  • School of education and human development

Hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes

Use a hyphen for clarity in forming complex compound adjectives. It connects two words that function together as a single concept or a joint modifier.

Correct format:
  • Call us toll-free at 207-780-5670.
  • We believe that academic strength begins in our low student-to-faculty ratio classrooms and flourishes through real-world learning experiences.
Incorrect format:
  • Call us toll free at 207-780-5670.
  • We believe that academic strength begins in our low student to faculty ratio classrooms and flourishes through real world learning experiences.

An en dash*, roughly the width of an N, with a space on either side is used to show number ranges or time and date spans. The en dash is a stand-in for “through” or “to.”

Correct format:

The internship lasts 2 – 3 semesters.

Attend our open house, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Incorrect format:

The internship lasts 2-3 semesters.

Attend our open house, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

An em dash*, roughly the length of an M, with a space on either side is typically used as a stand-in for commas or parentheses to insert another thought — or even just a word — into a sentence. In a pinch, a double-dash is acceptable.

Correct format:

Our University is a welcoming community of nearly 8,000 students — representing 44 states and 22 countries — spread among three dynamic campuses.

Acceptable: Our university is a welcoming community of nearly 8,000 students — representing 44 states and 22 countries — spread among three dynamic campuses.

Incorrect format:

Our University is a welcoming community of nearly 8,000 students – representing 44 states and 22 countries – spread among three dynamic campuses.

*NOTE: To insert an en dash or em dash into your document, you may need to use the “insert special characters or symbols” function on your computer.

Campus address (on the public website)

Keep in mind that the primary audience for our public website is prospective students. They are unfamiliar with our campuses, building names, and University shorthand for offices, labs, and study spaces.

  • Include your building’s entire name
    • e.g., Abromson Community Education Center NOT Abromson Center
  • Do not capitalize the “C” in campus
    • e.g., Portland campus or Gorham campus

Your campus address information should appear in the following order:

  1. Building
  2. Room number
  3. Campus
Correct format:
  • Abromson Community Education Center, room 111, Portland campus
  • Bailey Hall, room 115, Gorham campus
  • Science Building, room 504C (C-wing), Portland campus
Incorrect format:
  • 111 Abromson Center, Portland
  • 115 Bailey, Gorham Campus
  • Room 115, Bailey Hall
  • 504C Science Building, 5th floor, C Wing, Portland Campus

Phone numbers

Use dashes in a 10-digit number, not parentheses. Many of our students are not calling us from a Maine number.

Correct format:
  • 207-780-5670
  • 1-800-800-4876
Incorrect format:
  • x5670
  • 780-5670
  • (207) 780-5670
  • 1.800.800.4876

Campus address (on the public website)

Keep in mind that the primary audience for our public website is prospective students. They are unfamiliar with our campuses, building names, and University shorthand for offices, labs, and study spaces.

  • Include your building’s entire name
    • e.g., Abromson Community Education Center NOT Abromson Center
  • Do not capitalize the “C” in campus
    • e.g., Portland campus or Gorham campus

Your campus address information should appear in the following order:

  1. Building
  2. Room number
  3. Campus
Correct format:
  • Abromson Community Education Center, room 111, Portland campus
  • Bailey Hall, room 115, Gorham campus
  • Science Building, room 504C (C-wing), Portland campus
Incorrect format:
  • 111 Abromson Center, Portland
  • 115 Bailey, Gorham Campus
  • Room 115, Bailey Hall
  • 504C Science Building, 5th floor, C Wing, Portland Campus

Web address (for print materials)

  • Do NOT use “https://” or “www.”
  • Use lowercase letters for the URL
  • If a URL falls at the end of a sentence, add a period
Correct format:
  • usm.maine.edu
  • usm.maine.edu/admissions
  • foundation.usm.maine.edu
Incorrect format:
  • https://usm.maine.edu
  • www.usm.maine.edu
  • https://www.usm.maine.edu

Dates

  • Do NOT add extra letters such as “th” or “nd”
  • Always include the year for clarity
    • Exception: The year is not required for character-limited web copy, like Information Blocks, provided it is removed promptly after the date has passed
  • Include a comma between the day and year
Correct format:
  • April 2, 2023
  • Apr 3, 2021
  • Exceptions:
    • April 10
    • Apr 11
Incorrect format:
  • April 2nd
  • Apr 3rd
  • April 10th, 2023
  • Apr 11th, 2023

Times

  • Do not spell out “O’clock”
  • Include either a.m. or p.m. in lowercase letters with periods
    • If the time ends a sentence, do not add an additional period
    • If this format is unavailable, an acceptable alternative is uppercase letters with no periods
  • A colon and two digits after the hour are optional
  • Use an en dash, not a hyphen, with a space on either side within a range of time
Correct format:
  • 4 – 6 p.m.
  • 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
  • Acceptable:
    • 11 AM – 12 PM
    • 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Incorrect format:
  • 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
  • 9:30am–2pm
  • 8a — 4:30p
  • 3-5 pm
  • 4 o’clock PM

Order and formatting

Event details in paragraph format should appear in the following order:

  1. Time
  2. Day
  3. Date
  4. Location
Correct format:

4 – 6 p.m., Thursday, March 30, 2023
Abromson Community Education Center, Portland campus
88 Bedford St., Portland, ME 04101

4:00 – 6:00 p.m., Thursday, March 30, 2023
Abromson Community Education Center, Portland campus
88 Bedford St., Portland, ME 04101

Incorrect format:

March 30, 2023 at 4 – 6 p.m.
Abromson Community Education Center, Portland campus
88 Bedford St., Portland, ME 04101

Abromson Community Education Center, Portland campus
Thursday, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m., March 30, 2023
88 Bedford St., Portland, ME 04101

Degree abbreviations

Do not include periods.

Correct format:
  • MS
  • MM
  • MBA
  • MFA
  • MSEd
  • PhD
Incorrect format:
  • M.S.
  • M.M.
  • M.B.A.
  • M.F.A
  • MS.Ed.
  • Ph.D.

Degree types

Always use apostrophes when referring to individual degrees.

Correct format:
  • master’s
  • bachelor’s
Incorrect format:
  • masters
  • bachelors

Print materials

All print materials must maintain the consistent look and feel outlined in our brand guidelines, regardless of the project scope. We provide several options for developing print materials through the Office of Marketing and Brand Management.

Our Print Design Template System meets many project needs. You can create a variety of common print materials using pre-built templates while working at your own pace. These templates have all been brand-approved, making your work less complicated.

You can also obtain cost estimates and place your order through this online tool. All orders placed through this system will be reviewed and approved by the Office of Marketing and Brand Management prior to printing.

Available templates include:

  • Brochures
  • Buckslips
  • Business cards
  • Envelopes
  • Flyers
  • Letterhead
  • Notecards
  • Notepads
  • Posters
  • Postcards

If you need a print piece not covered by our Print Design Template System, and you have both the budget and adequate lead time, we can custom-design materials for you and work with one of our vendors to get them printed and delivered.

Custom design work requires appropriate lead time, and you will be responsible for providing and proofing the final copy and photos or artwork unless otherwise noted.

Any associated design time is billable at $55/hour. This charge is strictly for design; we do not charge for time spent in meetings or discussions about the project. Visit MyUSM to learn more about our Custom Print Material Request process.

Digital content

Website and email content are viewed hundreds, or even thousands, of times each day — and easily shared. As such, special attention should be given to every piece of digital content that is created for the University.

Please review the following information to help ensure that all digital content — from creating and editing webpages to the proper setup of your individual University email signature — is done in a way that aligns with our brand standards.

The Content Management System

In order to effectively manage the public University website, we use a highly customized content management system (CMS).

Using a CMS for website management has many benefits, but in terms of branding, it helps to ensure that every page on our website meets brand standards. It also standardizes and simplifies the user experience which can help strengthen our brand.

Content development

When developing content (such as text, images, and video) for our public website, please refer to the sections on writing, photos, and videos. Be sure to use the text and image formatting options available in the CMS. Finding ways to bypass the CMS settings is against brand standards.

Third-party sites and subdomains

If you are interested in creating a third-party site or subdomain, contact Andrea Tripp.

Standard email signature

Maintaining brand consistency extends to your email signature, which is often considered an electronic business card. In addition to your name and title, you need to include your contact information.

You may also include optional text, such as a favorite quote, your preferred pronouns, Strengths Finder or MBTI profile, temporary announcements, or box office/ticketing information.

Email marketing

If you are interested in creating and sending branded email marketing campaigns, the Office of Marketing and Brand Management has a centralized online email software that can be used to create, send, and track email campaigns.

This software is very user-friendly and preferred over other software such as Constant Contact or MailChimp. We also provide training; a branded, versatile, and mobile-friendly email template; and ongoing support.

The costs to your department are nominal:

  • One-time template cost: $65 (unless you request customizations over and above what is typically provided)
  • Email software cost: $4.25 per campaign + $0.009 per email address in your list (this cost includes the 15% off non-profit discount)
  • Pay as you go using a university P-card.

If you’re interested in learning more about email marketing, contact Andrea Tripp.

Advertising

All our University advertising is carefully crafted and purposely distributed to communicate specific messages to specific audiences at thoughtfully planned intervals. From radio and TV to online and print, the Office of Marketing and Brand Management is responsible for managing all advertising activities for the University of Southern Maine.

Our experienced staff can help you understand specific needs and how best to spend your time and money. Any academic department or administrative office wishing to engage in advertising should contact Tracy St. Pierre first.

TV advertising is prohibited without involvement from the Office of Marketing and Brand Management at the start. This is to ensure we are getting the best costs, reach, and production values. This is also to ensure we do not have a clash of commercials in the marketplace.

Radio advertising is prohibited without involvement from the Office of Marketing and Brand Management at the start. This is to ensure we are getting the best costs, reach, and production values. This is also to ensure we do not have a clash of commercials in the marketplace.

Print advertising can be expensive and limited in its reach. A single ad may not be worth the money you spend, especially if it’s small. Please consult with the Office of Marketing and Brand Management if you are considering print advertising.

We often can help you achieve better reach for the same budget. Contact Tracy St. Pierre to get started.

Online advertising consists of many options, the most popular being:

  • Social media
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Digital display (static or animated)
  • Video

If you are interested in online advertising, we strongly encourage you to reach out to the Office of Marketing and Brand Management when you begin thinking about it. We can help you work through what can be a confusing landscape. 

We often can help you achieve better reach for the same budget. Contact Tracy St. Pierre to get started.

Photos

The best practice for images used in print and digital materials is to start with the largest available version of your image. Images cannot be made larger if they start too small — they become visibly distorted, or pixelated, and the quality diminishes exponentially as you increase the image size.

Consider bedsheets; a fitted sheet for a full-size mattress will not cover a king-size mattress — no matter how hard you try, that fitted sheet will not get any larger. However, a full-size fitted sheet is more than enough fabric to cover a twin-size mattress.

For images used in print, start with the largest available version of your image — the final dimensions will be determined by the context in which the image will appear, but as long as the photo has a high resolution and is saved at 300 dpi we should be able to adapt it to our needs.

Images that have been saved for the web or downloaded from a website (aside from our Photo Library) will be compressed for digital use and it is unlikely that they will meet print resolution requirements.

For digital imagery, your original image should be at least 2000 pixels across at the shortest side and, ideally, horizontally oriented. Then you can scale it down and crop it to fit your needs.

Use a tool like Pixlr or Adobe Photoshop and one of our templates for WordPress images or email images (which are provided when you receive email marketing training) to scale down and crop your image to the size you need.

We provide a library of University-approved images that are available for use in both digital and print projects. These images are categorized and assigned keywords to make searching and browsing easy.

Images used to promote or represent the University should only be downloaded from our Photo Library or an approved stock photo purchase. Using images from other sources — or using images without the proper permissions — could lead to legal issues for the University.

In order to keep the University’s brand and image standards consistent across platforms, we advise that Photo Library images not be edited, altered, or changed without consulting the Office of Marketing and Brand Management. Cropping images is permitted.

The Photo Library is also home to our University logo files.

If you have questions about our Photo Library or image usage, contact Tina Burnell.

The Office of Marketing and Brand Management conducts several photoshoots throughout the year for photos to use in our marketing efforts across print, web, email, and digital advertising.

If you are in need of photos for an event or for use promoting your programs, initiatives, departments, schools, colleges, etc., contact Greg Daly for freelance photographer recommendations. Photographers have different rates based on their experience as well as different fee structures, depending on the project. We are happy to guide you on what to consider when selecting a photographer.

If you intend to use photos of individuals for promotional items of your own (such as an event poster), you must have the individual(s) sign a release. This release provides the University legal permission to use a person’s image for promotional purposes.

If you happen to have success with a photographer that we have not worked with previously, please feel free to send their information to us! We benefit from having several freelancers available at any time.

Videos

The University of Southern Maine brand should appear on all videos produced by and representing the University.

If you have any questions about creating or using video, contact Tracy St. Pierre.

The same basic principles that apply to taking a great photo also apply to creating a great video. The most important things to remember are:

Do not use vertical video

Turn your smartphone sideways before starting to record — your computer screen and television are formatted for widescreen, plus you will be able to get more of the action in the frame.

Zoom with your feet

Walk closer to your subject rather than letting your camera do the work for you — the resolution and the sound will both benefit.

Consider your surroundings

Be aware of objects and people in the background that may draw attention away from your subject. If there is a lawnmower running nearby or a helicopter flying overhead, this will overpower your audio.

Use a mic if you have one

Smartphones and personal video cameras all have built-in microphones, but if you have access to an external microphone your audio will be more focused on the subject you want to record and less on the surrounding sounds.

Pre- and post-roll

We created five-second video clips, called pre-roll and post-roll, that should appear at the very beginning (pre-roll, with the University logo) and the very end (post-roll, with the University access points logo) of each university video. We recommend a Fade To White transition between the pre-roll and the start of your video.

No other University logo is required to appear in the video when the branded pre- and post-roll is used.

Lower third and title card graphics

The graphics that appear at the bottom of a video while someone is speaking to provide more information are called lower thirds. The preferred way for this branded graphic to appear is on the right-hand side of the screen with a wipe in from right to left, and a wipe out from left to right.

The full-screen text graphics that appear at the beginning of a video, or as a segue, are called title cards. We offer a branded PSD template that can be edited and then imported into your video editing program.

If you need access to this Google Shared Drive, contact Zach Boyce.

Only videos hosted on the official University YouTube Channel are permitted on our public website.*

Videos produced by and representing the University should not be hosted on any personal or separate YouTube channel, Vimeo account, Google Drive, Box, or other platforms unless it has been approved by the Office of Marketing and Brand Management.

All YouTube videos must be captioned in compliance with accessibility policies.

If you’d like to host your video on our official YouTube Channel, contact Zach Boyce.

*NOTE: YouTube videos are the only type of video that can be embedded in the CMS for our public website.

If you are in need of a videographer for an event, please connect with our office for freelance videographer recommendations. Videographers have different rates based on their experience as well as different fee structures, depending on the project. We are happy to guide you on what to consider when selecting a videographer.

If you intend to use videos of individuals for promotional items of your own (such as an event website), you must have the individual(s) sign a release. This release provides the University legal permission to use a person’s image for promotional purposes.

If you happen to have success with a videographer that we have not worked with previously, please feel free to send their information to us! We benefit from having several freelancers available at any time.