Color

Color plays an active role in people’s lives. It attracts attention. It triggers emotions.

Color can influence decisions and behaviors.

Consistent use of color supports visual cohesion across our communications and leverages emotional resonance with our brand. When combined with photos of our people, places and work, color enhances the depth and increases the impact of our storytelling.

Primary Palette

  •   PMS 200
    CMYK: 3 100 63 12
    RGB: 187 0 0
    HEX: #bb0000
  •   PMS 424
    CMYK: 56 47 47 15
    RGB: 102 102 102
    HEX: #666666
  •   White
    CMYK: 0 0 0 0
    RGB: 255 255 255
    HEX: #ffffff
  •   Black
    CMYK: 0 0 0 100
    RGB: 0 0 0
    HEX: #000000

Scarlet and gray in combination are as well known as our name. They are our signature colors by which our audiences identify us as Ohio State.

Incorporate our signature colors into your materials to tap into that powerful recognition and connect with our brand. To ensure consistency and protect our signature colors, be sure to use the proper specifications above, and consider that a generous use of white allows our colors, and any others, to stand out.

About scarlet

Scarlet is powerful. It is bold. It is an integral part of our brand, which is why its presence is required on all Ohio State communications. A prominence of scarlet, however, is not always advisable.

Scarlet is a red, and red is one of the most visible colors. Why? Anthropologists believe we’re hardwired to notice red as a survival instinct. Aside from black and white, red is the only color distinction found in every human language.

Physically, red focuses behind the retina, which forces the lens of your eye to become more convex to pull it forward; therefore, we perceive red areas as advancing. How scarlet is positioned in relation to other hues, however, makes a world of difference. On a black background, for example, scarlet glows and expands, while on a white background it appears more contained and crisp. Surrounded by orange and purple, scarlet is relatively lifeless.

Bottom line: in any design, a little scarlet goes a long way.

Scarlet and gray: tints and shades

See the full, extended palette for correct uses of tints and shades of scarlet.

  • Do:
    • Use both tints and shades of gray
    • Use grayscale or monotone gray photos
    • Use shades of scarlet of 20-50%
    • Screen a grayscale image over scarlet
    • Use scarlet and black duotone images
  • Don't:
    • Use tints of scarlet
    • Use scarlet duotones with colors other than shades of scarlet or black

Secondary Palette

  •   PMS 2597
    CMYK: 80 99 0 0
    RGB: 68 35 105
    HEX: #442369
  •   PMS 644
    CMYK: 42 10 2 6
    RGB: 146 176 215
    HEX: #92b0d7
  •   PMS 380
    CMYK: 18 0 82 0
    RGB: 212 223 72
    HEX: #d4df48
  •   PMS 5473
    CMYK: 86 20 32 51
    RGB: 38 104 109
    HEX: #26686d
  •   PMS 110
    CMYK: 2 22 100 8
    RGB: 220 170 56
    HEX: #dcaa38
  •   PMS 7532
    CMYK: 23 37 45 65
    RGB: 69 56 49
    HEX: #453831
  •   PMS 391
    CMYK: 23 5 100 33
    RGB: 144 151 56
    HEX: #909738
  •   PMS 159
    CMYK: 1 72 100 7
    RGB: 214 88 40
    HEX: #d65828
  •   PMS 1205
    CMYK: 0 3 43 0
    RGB: 255 234 174
    HEX: #ffeaae
  •   PMS 563
    CMYK: 50 0 29 2
    RGB: 110 187 171
    HEX: #6ebbab
  •   PMS 7534
    CMYK: 5 5 15 8
    RGB: 221 222 198
    HEX: #dddec6
  •   PMS 2425
    CMYK: 40 100 10 26
    RGB: 133 30 94
    HEX: #851e5e

Since 1878, when a group of students chose our iconic signature colors, the Buckeye Nation has recognized scarlet and gray as Ohio State. We are a diverse institution, however, and we speak to vast and varied audience every day. Keeping those diverse communications in mind, a secondary palette has been carefully selected for versatility and compatibility with our iconic hues. This range of extended color options was chosen to complement the core university colors and provides units with the flexibility to distinguish themselves while building alignment and consistency.

These colors reflect the university’s physical environment and work in concert with the primary colors. Whether selecting a single secondary color or many, scarlet and gray should always appear in a prominent way on any communication materials.

When choosing complementing blue tones, keep in mind our sensitivity at Ohio State to that particular color. Blue should never be visually dominant.

Extended palette

Use of tints and shades of the secondary palette colors provides countless options and variations. The colors provide both dominant and neutral choices to balance and complement scarlet and gray. Use this handy tool for finding the correct mixes for each of the tints and shades. 

Color groups

  •   PMS 159
    CMYK: 1 72 100 7
    RGB: 214 88 40
    HEX: #d65828
  •   PMS 644 (10% K)
    CMYK: 42 10 2 15
    RGB: 131 158 193
    HEX: #839ec1
  •   PMS 2425 (30% K)
    CMYK: 40 100 10 48
    RGB: 93 21 66
    HEX: #5d1542
  •   PMS 391 (50% K)
    CMYK: 23 5 100 67
    RGB: 72 75 28
    HEX: #484b1c
  •   PMS 7532
    CMYK: 23 37 45 65
    RGB: 69 56 49
    HEX: #453831

  •   PMS 563
    CMYK: 50 0 29 2
    RGB: 110 187 171
    HEX: #6ebbab
  •   PMS 1205
    CMYK: 0 3 43 0
    RGB: 255 234 174
    HEX: #ffeaae
  •   PMS 391
    CMYK: 23 5 100 33
    RGB: 144 151 56
    HEX: #909738
  •   PMS 2597 (50% K)
    CMYK: 80 99 0 50
    RGB: 34 17 52
    HEX: #221134
  •   PMS 644
    CMYK: 42 10 2 15
    RGB: 131 158 193
    HEX: #839ec1

  •   PMS 110
    CMYK: 2 22 100 8
    RGB: 220 170 56
    HEX: #dcaa38
  •   PMS 380
    CMYK: 18 0 82 0
    RGB: 212 223 72
    HEX: #d4df48
  •   PMS 5473
    CMYK: 86 20 32 51
    RGB: 38 104 109
    HEX: #26686d
  •   PMS 2425
    CMYK: 40 100 10 48
    RGB: 93 21 66
    HEX: #5d1542
  •   PMS 7534
    CMYK: 5 5 15 8
    RGB: 221 222 198
    HEX: #dddec6

Picking the right colors for your message can be fun—but deciding on secondary colors can be challenging depending on the number of colors and intensities you choose. The three color groupings shown here can help you get started. The brand team is also available for counsel and assistance; email identity@osu.edu.

Not sure how to select the most relevant colors for your message? The university’s brand team and your college communications office are happy to help.

Color resources

Downloads
Extended color palette
Gallery
Help