Visual identity goes far beyond just a logo. Think about how certain colors, photography styles or fonts automatically make you think about a particular brand. Consistent use of particular design elements can strengthen your brand just as much as a logo. With that said, the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) is comprised of a large and diverse set of divisions, programs and services. The uniqueness of each should be celebrated. Rather than create a large collection of individual logos, we encourage divisions to utilize photography, copywriting and design to express their strengths, all while being endorsed and unified by the overarching CCIU logo.
The following guidelines pertaining to visual identity have been established to create unity within the IU, while also providing the flexibility for each program to establish their presence.
We strongly encourage divisions, whenever possible, to utilize the help of the CCIU’s Communications Specialists to help craft messages that resonate with audiences and establish a design that ensures a consistent, professional level of quality from the IU.
The existing Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) burgundy and gray corporate-level palette has been expanded to include the use of both dynamic and neutral colors that complement each other and can be used in any combination as long as the integrity of the CCIU brand is not diminished (i.e. the CCIU logo remains a complimenting design element).
What does that mean?
You have the flexibility to define your program’s colors, so be creative! When pairing colors together use a combination of dynamic and neutral colors but be careful not to utilize all dynamic or all neutral. We’ve defined a core set of colors (shown here with Pantone values) for you to start from. Don’t feel limited to the Pantone colors defined here. Feel free to play with filtered values (tints) of each of these, but remain within the identified color families.
Once you’ve selected your program’s core color palette (1-2 primary colors), look to continue working with those colors and an associated complementary secondary palette to continue to build the visual identity. The following are a few examples of program-specific color palettes that have been identified and utilized.
Preschool Special Education
Brandywine Virtual Academy
Technical College High School
Font selection is a key component in the creation of successful communications. Not only does font selection ensure clear readability, it also plays an important role in the perceptions generated of the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU). Use of ornamental, handwriting or novelty fonts (e.g. Comic Sans) are all highly stylized and can be distracting and amateurish when utilized in a more professional piece. There are specific times when these might be acceptable (e.g. holiday flyers, special invitations), but in general, sans-serif and serif fonts should be utilized to communicate a professional, high-quality, experienced, highly trusted establishment.
There are many fonts available, but generally, we recommend the following for both print and web:
For all general CCIU media and correspondence:
- Use Sans Serif fonts, such as: Helvetica or Arial type families for headlines and subheads.
- Use Serif fonts, such as: Times New Roman, Garamond or Cambria type families for body text, captions, bulleted lists and hanging indents.
For CCIU special purpose publications:
- Use Futura, Helvetica, Arial or Avant Garde type families for headlines and subheads.
- Use Avenir Next, Times New Roman or Garamond type families for body text, captions, bulleted lists and hanging indents.
For CCIU website:
- The selected font for use on the cciu.org website is Karla.
Additional headline fonts may be utilized when incorporated within an overall design concept, but selections should be strongly reviewed and must compliment one of the body text families indicated above.
- In general, use 10 to 12 point type for body text, 9 to 10 point for captions, 14-18 point for subheads and 20-30 for headlines.
- Limit TWO typefaces to a document. You can vary the look of type/fonts by size, weight, structure, form, direction and color.
- Be consistent in the use of typefaces for body text and headlines throughout a document. All headlines and subheads in a document should be the same type family and size; and all body text, captions and hanging indents should be the same type family and size.
- Use serif typefaces such as Times New Roman for body text and sans serif typefaces such as Helvetica or Arial for headlines. Serif typefaces have “feet” at the bottom of the letters that make it easier to read the small print. Sans serif typefaces are “without feet” and are more difficult to read when used in small print.
- Avoid using ALL CAPS or underlining large blocks of text. It makes your information harder to read. Use bold type or put a box around the information you are trying to highlight.
- Avoid justifying blocks of copy. It makes information harder to read. Use flush left instead for better readability.
- Utilize leading (space between lines of text) and tracking (space between letters) of text appropriately – spacing that is too loose or too tight can make readability more difficult. Look to maintain consistency in the spacing you choose throughout the document.
- On promotional materials, be cognizant of the length of copy on any one line. Copy that runs the full width of the document can become difficult to follow without losing your place in reading. The recommended line length allows for approximately seven to nine words per line.
Photography & Imagery
The average person is bombarded with thousands of messages a day across multiple mediums. Photographs and imagery not only help to attract the reader’s attention but also actively work to convey your message pictorially and emotionally. The photography and/or imagery should enhance and strengthen your message not detract from it. Together with the other visual brand elements, it establishes what the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) is all about.
Per our mission statement, the CCIU is focused on enhancing the lives of students and members of the community. As such, the photography utilized in marketing materials should emanate a feeling of promise, achievement, commitment, confidence and an overall sense of positivity. Although your photography selections will be determined by the needs of the individual project, generally we recommend photography, whether our own or purchased stock photography, to be lifestyle based. Lifestyle photography is a kind of photography which mainly aims to capture beauty in the everyday. It works to tell stories about people in real-life events or milestones. It tends to be more candid rather than staged or posed which allows viewers to feel a more raw connection to the subjects. Abstract photography has a time and place but is not a desired style for the IU.
- Photography that has been captured by any representative of the IU should never be used without expressed written consent of the subject, or subject’s parent or legal guardian. Please utilize the following model release form (Spanish version of the model release form) to obtain the appropriate permissions that can then be kept on file for future use. Keep in mind that in a group shot, permission must be obtained for every individual in the shot.
- The CCIU serves a very diverse audience and photography should be selected to be representative of the many ethnicities, genders, etc. that we serve.
- Effort should be made to try and reduce the amount of distractions in the background. When possible photography should be shot against solid or simple, clean backgrounds versus multi-patterned or overly crowded locations.
- In marketing materials, avoid group shots that do not focus on a single subject. When possible, take the photograph or crop post-shoot to focus the group image around a specific individual. Exceptions are made for more portrait-style photography that may look to capture a graduating class or participant group shot.
- For greater impact and more of a connection with any individual subject, look to crop photos to highlight the individual, but don’t over crop to where you might cut off the subject’s head or create an extreme close-up.
- Photography should be shot at the highest resolution to allow for broad use in marketing and communications.
We strongly encourage divisions, whenever possible, to utilize the help of the CCIU’s Communications Specialists to capture photography for use in printed materials to ensure quality and best practice in design and positioning.
While the IU’s brand benefits from having photography play the lead role in the majority of materials, graphic imagery in the form of graphic art, icons or infographics can play an important supporting role. The appropriate use of imagery can have the benefit of helping viewers comprehend more in-depth information at a quick glance.
As you consider the inclusion of imagery, please keep in mind the following:
- The CCIU style is to lead with photography whenever possible and to keep graphic imagery secondary. If photography is not available or is unable to accurately convey the core content of a piece, graphic artwork may take the primary focus.
- Utilize design elements in a way that helps focus the viewer on a specific concept. Graphics, icons, or infographics with too broad of a scope or too many elements may keep a viewer guessing as to the real message and takeaway.
- Along similar lines, ensure icons are relevant to the context and have a specific purpose. The purpose may be to call attention to a specific piece of information or help viewers follow a specific order, but in all cases, the inclusion of icons should help guide the viewer, not distract the viewer.
- Icons should not be utilized as logos.
Video can be a strong medium in which to personify the programs and services of the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU). If done correctly it has the opportunity to not only communicate a message, but also an emotion that connects viewers more closely with the highlighted service and people. In an effort to appropriately capture the professional quality of the IU’s services and the community connection, the following guidelines should be implemented in any video project.
The goal of any video is to connect with the viewer and in order to do so, the video must be relatable. Whether filmed in a studio setting, at a student event or via a more casual iPhone capture, the tone must remain honest and real. While able to position oneself as a leader, the tone should never overtly feel boastful or arrogant. Our mission is to enhance lives and to do so we often must partner. The viewer must see that we are trustworthy, reliable and genuine in our efforts to serve their needs with the highest level of success.
As much as possible, videos should look to include actual program/service participants. By doing so, the viewing audience has someone they can relate to and connect with. It also provides a level of credibility. Video footage that has been captured by any representative of the IU should never be used without expressed written consent of the subject, or subject’s parent or legal guardian. Please utilize the following model release form (Spanish version of the model release form) to obtain the appropriate permissions that can then be kept on file for future use. Keep in mind that in a group shot, permission must be obtained for every individual in the shot.
Similar to photography, the subjects within a video should be representative of the diverse audiences the CCIU serves.
Be mindful of the background included in the video capture. It should be kept simple and clean whenever possible. Maintain focus of the capture on the subject and as necessary the background can be blurred in post-editing. When filming in a location outside of CCIU property, be aware that approvals and/or permits may be required.
Design elements utilized within a video should follow the same guidelines outlined in the Logo and Visual Identity sections of these brand guidelines as video is just another channel for communication. For video specifically, the following considerations should be taken into account:
- The CCIU logo and/or applicable school logo should be incorporated into the intro and outro of any video to clearly associate the content with the organization.
- Utilize the lower third of the screen to identify speaking subjects within the video. Identification only needs to occur on the subject’s first speaking appearance and should remain on screen for a minimum of 3 seconds to allow for appropriate reading by the viewer.
- Transitioning between cuts or sections should be done as simply as possible without excessive animation which could distract the audience from the key take-away of the prior section.
- As with photography, it is important that you use the highest quality images within the video.
When capturing speakers, clear audio is imperative. Background noise should be minimized as much as possible unless used for effect. When necessary please have subjects set up with a lavalier microphone.
When selecting music for use within a video, the overall tone of the clip must be considered – not only in how it aligns with the context of the video but also how it represents CCIU as a brand. Music should supplement text or add an emotional touch; it should not dominate the video. Music selections should remain professional and more traditional in nature. Avoid potentially abrasive music styles, such as techno or heavy metal. Instrumental music is preferred, but if vocal music is utilized the lyrics must be fully reviewed in copy form by Communications to ensure appropriateness. Any music utilized must have all proper usage licenses captured. Avoid music by well-known artists which require a more time- and cost-intensive process for licensed use.
Capture and Display
To enable the highest quality across multiple uses, all videos should be filmed ideally in widescreen format (16:9 aspect ratio) with a 1920 X 1080 resolution. Make a concerted effort to keep videos short. Viewer engagement tends to drop rapidly after 30 seconds, so stick to the key points as planned ahead of time, and wrap it up in less than two minutes for best results.
For a video presentation on the web, video files should be uploaded to SchoolTube or TeacherTube, our only approved platforms for video sharing.
Please discuss your video requirements as early as possible with Communications who will work alongside the CCIU Videographer and/or help you determine a more effective marketing solution.