Writing / Editing
SMU’s outgoing personality comes through in writing that is friendly, direct, inclusive and optimistic. Strong, people-focused stories developed around common themes that demonstrate the impact we have on our community and the world connect with our audiences in personal ways.
Four distinctive strengths set SMU apart. These key differentiators are defined and described in content themes, or pillars, which contain ideas and language to weave into all types of communications. The themes also serve as filters to guide the selection of the best stories that bring “think big, do good” to life.
SMU and Dallas together create a global gateway with limitless opportunities that shape and position students for success no matter where they go or what they pursue.
The optimistic outlook of Dallas is at the heart of SMU, and our enterprising spirit has helped shape Dallas into a global gateway for people of all backgrounds. Our vibrant community uniquely positions us to create real-world opportunities for students to learn, give back and become world changers in whatever they’re passionate about. Offering assistance every step of the way is our strong alumni network of leaders in their professions and communities. As Dallas’ university, we boost the region’s intellectual capital and shape its future leaders by attracting exceptional students. Through the combined might of this comprehensive research university and an energetic city, students graduate prepared to contribute to their professions and their communities.
SMU is an inclusive, welcoming community that embraces a world of people and ideas and creates a place that everyone can call home.
From the moment they step onto our campus, students from across the country, around the globe and all walks of life become part of a close-knit community. Their connections with fellow students and faculty take root and grow into lifelong friendship. Whether they are first-years, transfers or graduate students, they thrive in a climate of inclusion, where all Mustangs are valued, and honest conversations lead to a better understanding of diverse perspectives and different life experiences. As they develop their passions and purpose, students welcome the wider community to share the beauty of the campus and the limitless enrichment opportunities they enjoy. When our students graduate and become part of our dynamic alumni network, they still have a home here, no matter where they live.
Our innovation culture empowers bold thinkers to transform their big ideas into new products, inventive technology and world-changing solutions.
SMU’s innovation ecosystem attracts problem-solvers, creators and disruptors ready to transform their big ideas into tangible results. Our students and their faculty and community collaborators aren’t afraid to take risks. They know that puzzling through a setback often leads to the next leap forward. Unconstrained by convention and guided by an ethical compass, they cut across boundaries to invent new products, find practical solutions to everyday problems, leverage technology in unexpected ways and tackle society’s most pressing issues. They open doors to opportunities and improve lives as they reimagine the world.
SMU’s data-empowered faculty and students deploy research as a force for good in a relentless quest for solutions with lasting impact.
SMU’s faculty and students join forces as co-creators of knowledge that spans the arts, sciences, engineering, business and the humanities. Even in their first year, students become hands-on contributors to significant discoveries. In collaboration with industry, nonprofit organizations and other institutions, our faculty and students forge paths to results that can be applied ethically on a local, national and global scale. Powered by the vast potential of data science and high-speed computing, they unlock new insights about critical programs. SMU researchers shape these discoveries into economic opportunities, stronger communities and a better world.
What we say is important. How we say it is, too.
That’s where voice and tone come into the picture to express and amplify our brand identity.
Voice is how we act. It’s our brand personality described in an adjective. Our voice is outgoing and captures these personality traits:
Tone is how we talk. It adds specific flavor to the voice. Based on target audience, topic, project, etc., our tone is:
SMU EDITORIAL STYLE GUIDE
SMU follows most AP Stylebook guidelines. Any variations and SMU-specific information can be found in the SMU Editorial Style Guide. If you have further style questions that are not addressed in this guide, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Web / Digital
SMU’s web and digital platforms are major touchpoints for almost everyone who wants information about the University. They create opportunities to make a lasting impression through a consistent visual identity that aligns with our brand promise.
Streamlining and optimizing content while using SMU’s specified web fonts and color palette can help maintain a clear visual vocabulary that matches our outgoing voice and tone.
Photography / Video
Photography and video help illustrate and define the SMU brand personality as authentic, welcoming and inclusive. Our visual presentation of students, faculty and alumni engage and surprise our audiences while connecting them to the University.
Our photographs communicate our brand personality through a candid, approachable style. The less things are posed, the better. Placing subjects in vibrant campus settings adds context to our stories and shows viewers that SMU is where exciting things happen. Off-campus imagery showcases not just our subjects, but also enriches our stories and reinforces our strong ties to our community beyond the Hilltop.
Varying the focal point, angles and cropping makes an image more dynamic and appealing. How the photo will be used with other visual elements is also considered. Sometimes images are composed with lots of open space around the subject for use with text and graphic elements.
The energy of our brand is also relayed through rich and dramatic colors. Unassuming logo placements along with the modest use of traditional red and blue promotes SMU branding in an unpretentious way.
As in our photos, our video stories capture the authentic, outgoing voice of the SMU brand and present the University as welcoming to all. Our videos show the importance of the work being done by students, faculty and other members of the SMU community in creative and inspiring ways. While our visual treatment varies to capture the spirit and purpose of each video subject, our voice is always inclusive and engaging.
Our cinematic approach combines varying perspectives, unexpected camera angles and purposeful movement. Upbeat editing and music set a tempo that fits the optimistic and innovative SMU personality. Video production colors are rich and dynamic. Motion graphics, titles and captions are used to support key messages with direct, authentic language, humor or engaging facts. All of these elements come together in compelling videos that embody the SMU brand.
SMU Marketing and Communications maintains a branded photo collection, Media Archive, that is continually updated to reflect the full range of faculty, students, academic and campus life at SMU. Media Archive is a digital asset management system that works in partnership with SMU Box. Users can search for photos using keywords, download images, store collections for easy reference and share images with University colleagues.
Access to Media Archive is currently limited to official University marketing of schools and units, with limited license permission granted by SMU Marketing and Communications. For smaller, one-time projects with specific image needs, access may be granted to a Box of assets, or temporarily to Media Archive.
Southern Methodist University owns the permissions to all photos and videos in Media Archive and at photos.smu.edu. Permission to use any of these assets is granted for official University communications or personal use only. Use of SMU’s photos and videos without permission is strictly prohibited. No individual, regardless of his affiliation with the University, may use any University imagery in any manner that suggests or implies University support or endorsement of a point of view, personal or political opinion, business activity, or movement.
SMU’s welcoming spirit shines through by striving to provide accessible video communications. We practice the guidelines below to ensure that people with such disabilities as hearing loss and visual impairment don’t miss out on the opportunity to engage with the University’s video materials, including webinars.
These practices include:
• Hosting/publishing all SMU video assets on an accessible video player, including YouTube, Vimeo and Canvas. Remember:SMU Box is not an accessible video player.
• Making sure all video assets include closed captioning. Many video players create automatic captions, and there are a variety of closed-captioning services and apps available. Ideally, all closed captioning should be proofed for accuracy.
• Creating and publishing a complete transcript and an audio description for blind users with each video.
SMU launched a new logo on August 1, 2021. We are currently in the process of preparing new files and will make them available for download soon. In the meantime, contact email@example.com with any questions.
The logo is the most important symbol used to communicate SMU’s public identity or brand. The logo stands for SMU’s reputation and strength. It quickly conveys that the University stands behind the programs, events and materials where the logo appears.
To maintain the integrity of this important symbol, only SMU Marketing and Communications creates SMU logos. Logos should not be produced independently.
In most cases, you should use this SMU logo, either with or without the tagline:
The proportions of the Dallas Hall icon and “SMU” wordmark should not be altered. If using the version with the tagline, its relationship to the logo should not be changed. The entire logo should be placed in an upright position at all times.
Usually, you shouldn’t use the icon or wordmark on its own. The exception is on rare occasions when the audience is already very familiar with SMU, space is limited, and you want to reinforce the University’s identity subtly.
Don’t use the logo with any product, event or organization not sponsored or sanctioned by the University. Use of the logo for events or initiatives co-sponsored by the University and outside organizations requires the permission of SMU Marketing and Communications.
Download official logos from smu.edu/logos.
To protect the integrity of the logo and registered trademark, maintain at least one-half of the “M” height as clear space around the logo. Place the logo on solid or uncomplicated backgrounds so that it stands out.
When using the Dallas Hall icon on its own, maintain at least one-half of the icon height as clear space around the icon. Place the icon on solid or uncomplicated backgrounds so that it stands out.
School & Area Logos
Secondary SMU logos have been created for schools and administrative units with their names in proper relation to the logo. School and unit marketing offices have these logos, plus more compact versions that are available for use on promotional items only.
Logos for centers and institutes that are affiliated with a single school include the name of the school.
Departments do not have logos. Instead, use the department name in a headline – or place it at a distance from the school logo that maintains the integrity of the logo (see “Required Spacing” above). See [link to downloadable resource] for sample type treatments of department names.
Service Marks, Trademarks and Registration Marks
A small registered trademark symbol, which consists of a circled “R” and protects use of the logo, should appear to the right of the University logo.
On the rare occasions when the Dallas Hall icon appears on its own, the trademark symbol “TM” should be used next to it on merchandise and the “SM” service mark should appear on all other materials, such as publications and banners.
These symbols are required unless the icon in question is large enough that a commensurately large trademark or service mark would be distracting and unsightly.
The official colors of the logo are red with a white stroke for the Dallas Hall icon and blue for the "SMU" wordmark. Alternate versions are available only for limited uses.
- The Dallas Hall icon must always appear in red with a white stroke, unless printing with a limited number of inks that makes that impossible. When producing publications that use only black, blue or red, the entire logo may appear in that color.
- When placing the logo on dark backgrounds of SMU colors or photographs, never reverse the colors of the SMU logo or allow the logo to appear transparent. Instead, use a logo with the “SMU” wordmark in white type – available exclusively through SMU Marketing and Communications. This logo still maintains the Dallas Hall icon in red, with the stroke lines in white. Note that when used on a photograph, the photo should not interfere with the legibility or integrity of the logo.
SMU Athletics teams use a logo with an energetic "SMU" wordmark above an icon representing Peruna, the mustang that is the SMU mascot:
The Athletics marketing office has approved logos that incorporate individual team names and the word “Mustangs” in proper relationship to the logo.
Additionally, the Peruna icon and the Athletics wordmark may be used on their own by athletic teams or other campus users to show spirit.
Remember that outside of official SMU Athletics uses, you are still required to include the primary SMU logo, even if you’re using the Athletics logo, the Athletics wordmark or the Peruna icon to show spirit. There are cases, however, where the Athletics wordmark can be used without the primary SMU logo:
- Small-scale digital ads
- Social profile images
- Promotional items
- Spirited pieces that target alumni where the SMU logo can’t also be used
- Spirited pieces that target prospective students where the SMU logo can’t also be used
Except for official sports team logos created by SMU Marketing and Communications, there should be at least one-half the height of the “M” as clear space around the Athletics logo.
Outline around SMU or Peruna
The weight of the outline around both the SMU wordmark and Peruna has been predetermined and should not be altered. The interior space of the legs matches the color of the stoke.
A small registered trademark symbol, which consists of a circled “R” and protects use of the logo, should appear to the lower right next to the Peruna logo.
Peruna, the official Mustang graphic icon, is a component of the SMU Athletics logos. The Peruna icon should not be used as a substitute for the SMU logo, but it may be used to symbolize spirit and pride in SMU. It also can be used on its own on promotional items where the Athletics logo or SMU logo can’t be used.
To protect the integrity of the registered trademark, maintain at least one-half of Peruna’s height as clear space around the icon.
Outline around Peruna
The weight of the outline around Peruna has been predetermined and should not be altered. The interior space of the legs matches the color of the stoke.
When the Peruna icon is used alone, a small registered trademark symbol, which consists of a circled “R” and protects use of the logo, should appear to the lower right of the icon.
The official University seal is a significant element in the University’s historic identity and is used exclusively for official business of the University. The seal is maintained by the Office of the University Secretary and used for corporate purposes. It also is used on academic documents produced with the approval of the Office of the Provost in conjunction with the Office of Marketing and Communications.
The seal should be used only for the purposes specified and never as a substitute for the University logo.
The same care and respect should be accorded the official seal as the University logo. The seal always should be placed in an upright position and never altered or tampered with. Care should be taken to leave adequate space on all sides of the seal.
No lettering, symbols or graphics should be placed close to, behind or on top of the seal.
Variations of the University’s official seal are prohibited.
To ensure high-quality presentation of the SMU logo, the University does not permit the Dallas Hall icon to be embroidered on shirts and other products. Instead, the use of the SMU wordmark, combined with other lettering in a contrasting, sans-serif font, is permitted. Because of their clean lines, sans-serif fonts are preferred for embroidery or silk screens.
One important way in which the SMU brand is expressed is through events sponsored by the University. Such signs communicate that SMU’s stature and reputation stand behind the conference or presentation in question or that the University is the official sponsor of the event or gathering.
To aid in visibility, these designs have been granted a special exception to the University standard for clear space around the wordmark.
Under SMU guidelines, podium signs should include the SMU wordmark and the icon. Podium signs also may include the names of any of SMU schools as a secondary identifier, if appropriate. Signs may appear in either blue or red.
Traditional SMU red and blue are still part of the palette, but the introduction of four new colors breathes new energy into the brand. This warmer palette brings the brand personality to life by visually creating a bold and inclusive energy.
Red and blue are still our primary colors, but yellow is secondary, and teal, salmon and black are tertiary. Color choices are dependent on the target audience. When designing for print, be sure to work closely with your printer as the type of paper and materials can affect color accuracy.
SMU’s official brand fonts are now Trade Gothic (sans serif) and Tiempos (serif). Trade Gothic makes a modern statement and is perfectly balanced by the welcoming Tiempos. Both fonts can be used for headlines and/or body copy.
If Trade Gothic and Tiempos aren’t available to your department, Arial (sans serif) and Georgia (serif) are acceptable alternatives. Both fonts also can be used for headlines and/or body copy.
Arial and Georgia are standard fonts that are loaded onto most computers.
Letterhead, envelopes and business cards often create the first impression of SMU. Consistency in design, color and type is important to reinforce the University’s brand identity.
SMU stationery is available exclusively through Marfield Stationery Company at smu.edu/stationery. Products include:
- Business Cards
- Monarch Letterhead
- Mailing Labels
Stationery products are printed using SMU red and blue.
With the exception of the business cards, the name of the school, unit center or institute will appear below the SMU logo on all materials.
The “generic” all-University stationery bearing the SMU logo should be used by those not affiliated with specific schools. Members of schools should use stationery bearing the school name beneath the SMU logo.
Personalization (name and title) is offered only to the president, deans, vice presidents and endowed professors and should be ordered through Patrick Cullen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Standard cards include school/area information on the back of all cards. This information is not modifiable.
A custom card is available if there is a need to customize the information. For example, if you want to include a physical address or modify the social media links. Adding a physical address on the business card is only available on the two-sided card option.
- Web addresses begin with smu.edu/ and are written in lowercase. If the URL is too long for the space, an alternative will need to be developed. Contact your school marketing office or request a shortened name through SMU’s OIT Help Desk. The new URL created will direct users to the existing webpage.
- SMU email addresses are written in lowercase.
- Social media addresses are listed as “company.com” before the account name.
- Capitalization can be used in social media accounts if the account name was created using uppercase letters.
- Phone numbers use hyphens.
Red pocket folders with a gold embossed seal are available for purchase from Mail Central. Send requests to email@example.com and include the fund/org to be charged, the location for delivery and the quantity.