Identity Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

In this FAQ you will find answers to commonly asked questions about identity and branding issues at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. You will also find handy links to definitions of commonly used words and where you can get more information about identity guidelines and usage. Definitions of commonly used words.





Permissions and Policies

Registered and Protected Marks


Q: As an academic institution, why should I care about branding? Isn’t that for commercial enterprises?

A: “Branding” is just the popularized term for building a strong identity. Any organization must build an identity that represents the desirable personality and characteristics that people will associate with it. A strong identity gives the public a set of instant positive images that build confidence, trust, and respect. One very important way to build a strong identity is through consistent use of visual images and a recognizable look and feel to published materials.

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Q: Why should my academic unit adopt the Block M in its logo—isn’t it an athletic mark?

A: The Block M is one of the two most highly recognized marks for any college or university in the nation, ranked at the top with Notre Dame. One reason it is so widely recognized is the great sports tradition the University of Michigan has enjoyed. After years of use and recognition, though, it has become intertwined with the University’s entire identity and is one of the University’s most valuable assets. And its consistent use by athletics and academics alike will only increase its strength and value as a visual identifier of all that this University stands for.

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Q: Why shouldn’t I create a unique mark that will come to identify my department or unit?

A: When organizations adopt a new mark they typically spend millions of dollars over many years to build the desired associations between the personality and offerings of the organization and the visual identity. We already have a powerful symbol that evokes images of hope, promise, quality, confidence, trust and respect—and it will cost you nothing to adopt it. The Block M will create a positive image for your unit and by using it in a consistent manner, you strengthen its qualities of power and influence as well. In contrast, having multiple, competing logos for departments and programs can contribute to confusion and dilution of the University’s visual identity.

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Q: I want to download UM-Dearborn logos. Where can I get them?

A: To download UM-Dearborn marks and logos you will need to authenticate using your University of Michigan uniqname and password to access the Download Logos section of the site. If you do not have a University of Michigan uniqname and password, please call the Marketing Coordinator for assistance.

You may also contact Marketing Communications in Ann Arbor by email or by phone at 734-764-9270.

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Q: I am having trouble downloading a logo. Who can help me?

A: Please call the Marketing Coordinator Renee Lopez for assistance.

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Q: Can I use the seal?

A: The Seal of the University of Michigan--and its companion UM-Dearborn Seal--should be used only by the Regents and the President's Office, and on official documents such as awards and citations. Its use in marketing materials is strongly discouraged.

Please visit the University Logos section of this website for detailed guidelines.

All final authority for the use of the University Seal resides in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement, Tom Baird.

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Q: Can I use the Split Block M?

A: The split block M--the version that has the word Michigan written across the M--is offered as an alternative only because it was registered and in use prior to these guidelines. It should be used sparingly. This version of the Block M should not be used as a department logo, on newsletters, or in web banners created in the future.

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Q: Can I use the Block M to identify my department or unit but alter it to be a little different and set us apart?

A: We strongly discourage it. The value of the Block M as a clear symbol of the University’s identity will diminish if it is not used in a consistent manner. It should not be altered, decorated, or surrounded with pattern and designs. Full guidelines for appropriate use are found in the Print Style Guide.

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Q: I see that the UM-D has registered one mark that allows something to be put over the the Block M. Why is this mark ok but not other marks that other departments may want to use?

A: The "split block M," as we call the version that has the word Michigan written across the M, is offered as an alternative here onlly because it was registered and in use prior to these guidelines. It should be used sparingly. This version of the Block M should not be used as a department logo, on newsletters or web banners created in the future.

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Q: What are the official colors of UM-Dearborn and how do I use them?

A: University color guidelines are found in University Colors and Web Style Guide section of this website.

If you have any questions or need suggestions about colors, please contact the Director of Marketing.

If you need assistance proofing colors on printed materials or Web pages, please contact the Director of Marketing or Marketing Coordinator.

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Q: My unit still has a supply of business cards and stationery with our previous logo but would like to adopt the new wordmark. Do we have to switch now?

A: We encourage you to use your existing supply before ordering materials with the new wordmark. However, if you haven't used up your supply by July 1, 2006, we ask that you order new supplies at that time.

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Q: I want to order new stationery. Where do I go?

A: University of Michigan Printing Services can print business cards, letterhead, envelopes and mailing labels with the new UM-Dearborn wordmark at competitive prices. Their new online ordering system makes it fast and easy. To use, just input information and the online ordering system will automatically generate a proof for you. To order stationery online, please visit the U-M Business Services website

If necessary, please contact the Marketing Coordinator for assistance.

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Q: Am I required to use the images and wordmarks established as the “official” marks of the University—will there be penalties for not following the guidelines?

A: Although you are not required to use the official marks, it will be to your advantage to do so. The penalty will be the loss of opportunity to capitalize on brand strength. The strength of the images grows through consistent use, which benefits all departments and schools in the University. There will also be financial savings from using the new wordmark, which will be available on templates through Michigan Business Services’ printing services. They are able to offer cost savings based on the volume of orders throughout the University.

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Q: When do you need permission to use the University marks?

A: Anyone who uses the University name or marks for any purpose other than official University business will require prior written permission (please see the Permissions Guide for contact information).

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Q: If I have questions or need approvals, is there one person I can contact for a quick response?

A: If you have questions about using a logo on commercial goods, send them to All other questions or requests can be sent to Director of Marketing Cathy Staples at, and they will be addressed promptly. The Director of Marketing will routinely involve all appropriate representatives of a cross-campus review group.

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Q: Can students or student groups use the Block M?

A: MSA-registered student organizations can use the Block M, or refer to their organizations as being “at the University of Michigan–Dearborn.”

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Q: Can my business use the University’s name and logos?

A: Commercial use of the University’s marks is restricted to companies that participate in a corporate sponsorship program through the Athletic department.

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Q: A corporate vendor has provided many products for use in my department at a favorable cost. In exchange, the provider wants us to let them use the University name and logo on their website and in their marketing materials. Can we?

A: We recognize the value that our vendors offer us. We are willing to have them identify the University of Michigan-Dearborn as a client and describe in factual terms the product or service provided. We do not allow marketing by outside organizations using the Block M or other University logos.

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Q: A vendor gave our unit a great price on a product and now wants to produce marketing materials that quote our department chair saying that he and the University chose this product above all others because of its superior quality. Can we do that?

A: University employees cannot endorse products or services in a way that makes it appear the University is providing the endorsement. Any statements about the use of the product or service must be purely factual and not imply a preference. Individual employees may provide endorsements as statements of their own opinion if they add a clear disclaimer that the opinion is not that of the University, nor made in the employee’s official capacity on behalf of the University.

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Q: What are the ™ and ® notations that appear with the University name and logos?

A: The ™ symbol indicates that the word, symbol, or design it is placed next to is a trademark. The ® symbol indicates that the trademark is federally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It is important that these designations are used correctly, as they empower the University’s enforcement efforts.

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Q: What is trademark registration?

A: It is not necessary to register a trademark or service mark to prevent others from infringing upon the trademark, but registration helps us to limit any infringement and to allow the University to protect its property rights. Trademarks generally become protected as soon as they are adopted by an organization and used in commerce, even before registration. Goods or services sold exclusively within one state often are subject to state registration. More commonly, the fact that goods and services are sold through interstate commerce often entitles the trademark to federal registration. With federal registration, the registrant is presumed to be entitled to use the trademark throughout the United States for the goods or services for which the trademark is registered. Other organizations attempting to register the trademark will not be entitled to do so.

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Q: What is trademark infringement?

A: Trademark infringement occurs when one company or organization uses the trademark of another to promote its goods and services. The ultimate issue in infringement cases is whether the public is likely to be confused about the source of the goods or services offered. Determining whether infringement has occurred requires a look at how the trademark is used, and the goods or services that were offered and how closely tied they are in the public mind to the original goods and services.

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Q: Do I need permission to use one of the registered or protected marks intended for commerical use?

A: Yes. Registered and Protected marks require a written licensing agreement for any commercial use. The Trademark Licensing Office handles licensing of these marks. A written release from Intercollegiate Athletics is recommended, but not required.

For more information, please visit the Policies section of this website.

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Q: When do you need a license to use the University marks?

A: Manufacturers wishing to produce products bearing the University marks are required to hold a license. Hundreds of companies are currently licensed with the University to produce in various product categories.

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Q: What happens if unlicensed merchandise is found in the marketplace?

A: Merchandise produced without written authorization may be considered “counterfeit” and subject to all available legal remedies, including seizure of the merchandise.

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Q: Are royalties always required for internal use?

A: If the University’s name/marks are utilized on a product that is being resold, then royalties are due. If the product is being distributed at no cost and does not include any commercial sponsors or endorsements, then the royalty fee will be waived. Note: These are general guidelines and each case is reviewed for royalty exemption at the time the internal request is submitted to the Trademark Licensing office.

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Q: If I am a member of a registered student organization and I order items that are not going to be resold, do I still have to select a licensed manufacturer?

A: Yes, all purchases bearing any University Mark must be made from a manufacturer licensed by the University. These select licensees are familiar with the approval process, quality standards and royalty accounting. This is true even if purchases are exempt from royalties. A complete list of licensed manufacturers is available through the Trademark Licensing Office.

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Q: How can I tell if the product I am purchasing is a licensed product?

A: Look for the “Officially Licensed Collegiate Products” label. All licensed collegiate products are marked with this seal, either on the item’s hang tag or on the packaging.

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Q: Which products can be licensed?

A: Most products will be considered for a license. However, the University reserves the right to refuse a license to any person, organization, or company for any particular product. The University marks are not to be associated with and no license will be granted for the marketing of alcohol, tobacco, controlled substances, sexually oriented products, gambling, or firearms. The University marks will not be licensed for use in association with other marks in designs that are deemed to be degrading, demeaning, or reflect poorly on the University. The University will not license products that do not meet minimum standards of quality and/or good taste or are judged to be dangerous or carry high product liability risks.

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For more information...

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