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Visual Language

Our brand in color

Color is an influential component of our visual language—it conveys meaning, signifies our brand, and helps us connect with our audience’s emotions. IU has a flexible color system that can accommodate executions ranging from the purely functional to our most expressive.

IU's color palettes

Our brand colors reflect our values, voice, and personality. With a palette composed of primary and secondary colors, along with an expanded digital palette, you have options that are appropriate for all of your marketing and communications efforts. Choosing colors wisely will help us create a strong visual identity for the IU brand.

Easy access to IU colors

Creative Cloud Libraries allow us to sync creative elements (including color) across all Adobe CC applications, saving time and providing consistency. We’ll be expanding assets in our Library as time goes on, which will sync automatically as new additions are made.

Access IU's CC Library

Primary colors

Based on the traditional “Cream & Crimson,” our primary brand colors are a core pillar of the way we provide consistency and familiarity throughout all brand experiences. These are the colors our audiences will most immediately associate with the IU brand. Because of that, use of primary colors will help us build brand awareness.

For all intents and purposes, Cream is white. This is because cream—traditionally one of our primary colors—doesn’t reproduce well in most design executions. Our primary black is mainly used for text over white.

Secondary colors

Our secondary color palette is designed to complement the usage of crimson, our most recognizable brand color. Compositions should strive for a balance between primary brand colors and secondary brand colors, with primary colors being the most dominant.

The secondary palette is inspired by the natural beauty found throughout the state of Indiana. To learn more about how these colors were chosen, read up on IU's color theory.

CMYK vs. PMS vs. Hex

CMYK, PMS, and hex color values are meant for different mediums—and can result in inaccurate colors if you use the wrong one. To ensure your color values display accurately and are consistent with the IU brand, choose the appropriate value for the intended use and printing method of your marketing piece.


For nearly all print work, use the CMYK values listed below for the most accurate brand color reproduction.


Also used for print work, the PMS value is based on the Pantone Matching System®. It should only be used when printing spot colors (limited use).


Hex values should only be used when reproducing brand colors on the web, in a digital, RGB environment. For more information about IU’s brand on the web, visit the Web Style Guide.

Expanded Digital Palette

Our Expanded Digital Palette is derived from our primary and secondary colors. It is designated for digital use only, in situations that require tone-on-tone color combinations. These might include custom illustrations or user interface components that use color to indicate status or meaning, for example.

IU Crimson IU Orange IU Gold IU Green IU Blue IU Purple

Using color strategically

It is important to maintain a sense of hierarchy, balance, and harmony when using the IU brand color palette. Our color system is flexible, but you should exercise restraint, particularly when it comes to functional pieces.

Create unique color palettes by combining one secondary brand color with IU Crimson. Do not use more than one secondary color on a piece unless there is clear and simple logic behind doing so.

Keep accessibility top of mind

Always take accessibility into consideration at every step of your design process. When making color decisions, use this checker to ensure you’re providing enough contrast in your piece.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re conveying meaning through other design and/or copy elements, as well. Avoid relying on color alone to communicate.

Explore our visual language further

It’s an important one, but color is only one component of a complex visual language. Go into greater depth about how color interacts with other elements to form cohesive brand executions.

  • See color in creations

    See how color is used across our range of expression, from functional to expressive.

  • Discover typography

    We can say a lot with our choice of type. Learn about our brand typography basics.

  • Learn about composition

    How we arrange the elements in our layouts makes all the difference. Discover more about composition.