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Brand & Communications

What is a brand and why do we need brand guidelines?

A brand is the total experience that we create for all of our audiences. Our college is part of the university brand, but we also have our own college brand because we too have a unique story to tell.

Brand guidelines are important to ensure that all the publications, websites, social media, and merchandise that represent CNRE have a consistent look and feel. Our goal is that whenever our audiences come into contact with any of these items, they immediately recognize the “stamp” of Virginia Tech and CNRE.

It’s also important that all of our branded materials project the same standard of excellence that defines our teaching and research. Adhering to brand guidelines and having a professional, unified look and feel encourages others in the Virginia Tech community, the region, the commonwealth, and the world to see us as leaders in our field.

Brand or communications questions? Contact us!

If you have questions, please feel free to contact any member of the communications team or visit us in Cheatham 321.

  • Vacant, director of communications
  • Will Pfeil, web and media specialist, or 540-231-6639
  • David Fleming, writer and communications specialist, or 540-231-5531

Lockups for the college, departments, and centers

Lockups (or logos) for the college and all of our officially recognized departments and centers are available on the Virginia Tech Brand Center site. For each unit, you will find horizontal as well as vertical designs; the horizontal lockups are typically used in print pieces and the vertical or stacked lockups are most commonly used for merchandise.

If you have any questions about file format or which lockup to use, contact Will Pfeil at or 540-231-6639.

Brand and communications resources

In the accordion below, you’ll find the building blocks of a successful brand. This is where you can obtain the graphic elements and language you need to complete a project and where you can plug into and request additional resources.

If you are interested in purchasing or producing any kind of product that bears the Virginia Tech name, logo, or other identifying mark, be sure to review the merchandise purchasing policies. If you have questions, please contact the Office of Licensing and Trademarks at

Branded merchandise is that which contains a university lockup or mark. The term “lockup” refers to what some might call a logo. Marks or trademarks include the Virginia Tech name and VT as a graphic element, the HokieBird, etc.

Here are a few important tips and guidelines about ordering merchandise that may help:

  • To order any kind or merchandise with a Virginia Tech lockup or mark, you must work with a licensed vendor. The vendor will submit your artwork for review and approval by Virginia Tech’s Licensing and Trademark office; you must receive their approval before ordering the merchandise.
  • Before ordering any branded merchandise, advancement personnel must complete the Branded Product Request Form found on the Virginia Tech Licensing and Trademarks site. The completed form must also be submitted with your invoice or the invoice will not be paid.
  • Only colleges, departments, and other administrative units can order products bearing an official university lockup, name, and other identifying marks to be used as giveaways (not sold). 
  • Student groups that are Registered Student Organizations are not permitted to use any university or college lockup or identifying mark (except the HokieBird or Hokie Tracks). Student groups may create merchandise such as T-shirts that incorporate the group’s name and the words “at Virginia Tech” or use a logo that they have designed specifically for their group. More complete information is on the Licensing and Trademarks site.
  • According to the Licensing Office, some of the most-used vendors are Exper-T’s, Eleven West, 4imprint, Synergy Imports, and Boost Promotional. Many vendors can also assist you with the artwork/product design.
  • Please note that if you plan to produce an item to sell that incorporates any university lockup or trademark, you will need to pay royalties. 
  • If you are providing merchandise or giving items away at a conference where there is a registration fee, you will also need to pay royalties as this is considered selling the merchandise.
  • If you have questions, we recommend contacting the Licensing Office directly at

We are always looking for great stories about what’s happening in CNRE and creative ways to tell the CNRE story to our varied audiences. If you have big news — especially news relating to student learning, research, or outreach activities — please let us know!

We manage and work within many communications mediums, so we can help determine which is the best channel for each story: social media, website, newsmagazine, etc. We also work with Media Relations to distribute articles through Virginia Tech News and other channels. Check out the CNRE news feed.

If you are a faculty member with multiple, ongoing projects, consider which one is the most important in terms of impact and your research priorities as we do not have the capacity to produce news stories about every grant and paper. In addition, we also give preference to projects for which a CNRE faculty member is the principal investigator or lead author.

If you have a story idea, please contact Andrew Ickes, assistant dean of advancement, at or 540-231-8859.

We can also work with the Media Relations team to develop a media advisory or tipsheet when there may be a developing story that will interest the media, such as a change in a law or policy, an impending event like a hurricane, or a significant campus event. A media advisory or tipsheet is a great way for us to provide reporters with the names of faculty experts who can contribute to their original stories. Here are some examples:

If you need to hire a graphic artist, photographer, or other vendor for a special or ongoing project, check out the Resource Network Guide on the Virginia Tech Brand Center. The vendors have been vetted and pre-approved, so they are already under contract by the university. They should also have access to all Virginia Tech branded elements.

We recommend contacting several vendors with project specs and deadlines to get estimates and to be sure the vendor can complete the work in a timely fashion.

In addition to writing and distributing articles and press releases, we also perform the following communications and marketing activities that help advance the work happening in the college, contribute to alumni engagement and fundraising, and recruit prospective students:

  • Publicizing events and programs through the use of appropriate communications channels, including the Cheatham lobby video monitor
  • Managing the college brand assets and offering guidance for their use
  • Creating content for and designing college publications
  • Developing and maintaining the college and department websites
  • Managing the college and department social media accounts
  • Offering guidance and best practice info related to newsletters, social media, writing for the web, and print publications
  • Connecting reporters and other media personnel with faculty experts, while working to build and nurture relationships with the media
  • Assisting faculty who are interested in preparing and training for media appearances
  • Providing training and consultation on web design and implementation for sites using the university’s CMS
  • Providing training on how to use video equipment and Zoom to broadcast or record an event
  • Connecting college faculty and staff with appropriate University Communications units and personnel for additional assistance and services

The language that you use in talking about the college is just as important as the visual identity. Our brand messaging is how we communicate and execute our brand (tell our audiences who we are and what we do) using the written word.

The CNRE messaging map that you see below ties our messaging into the university master brand but also provides language that distinctively and authentically celebrates our strengths. We do this by using the three brand pillars of research, culture, and learning to talk about what we offer and what we produce (or get) in return.

Did you know that there are specific rules for how we write the names of degrees, dates, titles, departments, telephone numbers, etc., and how we utilize punctuation marks at the university? Check out the University Style Guide to ensure that your content is consistent and professional.

Messaging map for the college

Visit the Virginia Tech Brand Center to review best practices for incorporating visual elements of the brand such as graphic elements, fonts, colors, logos, etc.

You can also go directly to the downloads page to obtain:

  • Fonts (To install fonts on a PC, click the DOWNLOAD NOW button and select “Save File.” Locate the zipped file in your “Downloads” folder, right click, and select “Extract.” Open folder with the individual fonts, right click, and select “Install.” You may need to restart an application to use the fonts.)
  • Graphic elements
  • Virginia Tech print and web logos
  • PowerPoint templates
  • Letterhead

Ensemble is the web content management system (CMS) utilized by Virginia Tech. We highly recommend that all units in the college take advantage of the CMS as it is supported by the university. By doing so, you’ll be able to utlize the One theme branded template and have additional “ready-made” templates for pages and page elements at your disposal that do not require a lot of technical expertise to create or incorporate.

Plus, there are people who can help you get started and make updates, a ticket system for when you need support, and a variety of training resources available. In terms of training, check out the on-demand training video as well as the on-campus TLOS courses for Ensemble.

Please note that the One template is not currently available or supported if you are using another content management system.

Virginia Tech offers a robust slate of social media resources for people who are just getting started as well as more advanced users who want to improve their sites and strategies. All of the following social media resources are available online, and you can also contact the Virginia Tech social media team for additional assistance at

  • Virginia Tech Social Media Policy
  • Social Media Best Practices
  • Recorded presentations and trainings on best practices, using analytics, and more
  • Guides for emergencies, moderating online discussions, measuring success, and more

We are working to build a photography library for the college and are especially looking for photos of students and faculty engaging in hands-on activities such as field experiences, research, overseas study, lab activities, etc. If you have a great activity taking place as part of a class or lab — especially if it’s outdoors — please contact Andrew Ickes at or 540-231-8859.

If you are taking any staged shots to promote or market your units or activities, please utilize the Media Release Form. Here are a few basic guidelines regarding when you need to obtain a signed release:

  • You typically do not need a release if you are taking photos or video of people in a public place, unless you really focus on or get very close shots of people.
  • You should get a release for a photo or video shoot that is staged and/or when people are there for the sole purpose of being a part of the shoot, especially when you are planning to use the photos for a print publication or when you are working on a video.
  • Always get a signed release when photographing minors.
  • We also recommend using the following language on the information and/or registration pages for any event where photos will/may be taken: Please be advised that photographs will be taken at this event. Your participation in this event authorizes Virginia Tech to photograph you and use your image in social media, on the website, and/or in marketing materials.

University Relations offers additional photography and videography services to help tell the university story. If you know of a student success story or learning, research, or community activities that would have broad appeal and highlight what we are contributing as a college and university, please contact Andrew Ickes at or 540-231-8859 about the possibility of requesting a photographer/videographer.

If you have a general announcement or event that is relevant to current students and/or faculty and staff in CNRE, you may want to consider creating an informational Google Slide for the Cheatham Hall video monitor to help publicize and get the word out. To make a submission or if you have questions or need assistance, please contact Will Pfeil, web and media specialist, at or 540-231-6639.