Co-Branding with University of Minnesota Brand and External Entity

Guideline Statement:

The University of Minnesota supports external sponsorship of University activities and the recognition of that sponsorship through use of external party logos when appropriate.  The University of Minnesota requires a formal, signed agreement between the University and the partner organization outlining the terms of the sponsorship, including but not limited to use of sponsor logos in communications materials.

Reason for Guideline:

University/community relationships frequently require marketing and communication material(s).  However, in some cases, it has not been clear how both organizations can be represented on such materials and also comply with University and sponsor organization brand policies.  The below FAQ addresses co-branding policies for University of Minnesota collaborations with external entities. 


When can the University of Minnesota brand be used in co-branding?

The University of Minnesota brand can only be used in tandem with a third party logo when “a license, memorandum of understanding, or sponsorship agreement stating the terms and conditions of such use” is established, and when such use does not conflict with other policy.

University faculty and staff may use the Public Engagement Memorandum of Understanding template to secure sponsorship agreement with a third party.  If used in its original form, the Public Engagement Memorandum of Understanding template has already been approved by the Office of the General Council (OGC) and requires no additional approval by OGC.

Does communication or marketing material(s) need to be approved when co-branded?

Yes.  Co-branding communication(s) or marketing material(s) is allowed, but must be reviewed by and approved by the Office of University Relations (see 

Are there best practices for listing co-sponsors?

Yes.  Co-branded communication(s) or marketing material(s) must be reviewed and approved by your collegiate/unit communicator.  If additional questions regarding the material(s) exist, the collegiate/unit communicator will consult with the Office of University Relations.

Are there best practices for listing co-sponsors?

It is preferred to list sponsors in text rather than logos to add clarity to the nature of the sponsorship.  This format is especially helpful when there are multiple sponsors of an event (to avoid confusing logo “soup”), when sponsors provide specific support (i.e.:  “Table displays sponsored by XYZ Company), and when levels of sponsorship exist and must be recognized.  University of Minnesota logos should never be grouped or combined with other logos or graphics. Logos should be placed with adequate space between to not appear grouped.

Are there situations when the University of Minnesota brand cannot be used?

Yes. The University of Minnesota name and brand cannot be used when it may adversely affect the University’s image or standing, or would for any other reason be inappropriate for a public research university, including the University’s brand in connection with religious products, political parties, alcohol, tobacco, or firearms. See brand policy for a full list of general prohibitions.

Additionally, the University’s name and trademarks (including colors) may not be used in any way that gives a false impression, is misleading, or could causing confusion regarding the University’s relationship with any person or entity. Statements that convey or imply endorsement are prohibited.

Finally, the University’s name and brand cannot be used in sponsorships or collaborations that impose a conflict with broader University agreements.  

Whom should I contact if I have specific questions about the University of Minnesota’s branding and co-branding policies?

For additional information regarding the brand policy, please contact Philip Kelley, Marketing Manager, Office of University Relations.

For questions regarding Memorandum of Understanding or Sponsorship Agreements, contact the Office of the General Counsel.

Please be aware that the University brand policy can change and that the most up-to-date information regarding University brand policy will be posted on the “Brand Policy” and “Our Brand” webpages.