March 2005 Vol. 10 Issue 1
Using signs to brand Purdue Extension
Q&A with Steve Cain

Several Purdue Extension educators have contacted me about signs for their county offices. This question and answer should help you better understand sign issues.

Question: We are updating the signs for our county office. Is there a standard message and process for signs?

Answer: Help us brand Purdue Extension. Signs that use the words " County Extension " or "Cooperative Extension" don't help us market our organization. Our formal name is Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. That's fine for letterhead and contracts, but for outdoor signs, use "Purdue Extension" and your county name.

There are several reasons not to use the full name on signs. One of the most important reasons is the way people will read them. People may spend less than seven seconds reading your sign. That's true whether they are walking or driving by it. The shorter name is quicker to read.

A second reason deals with the way people remember and use information. Over time, people will remember and use the name "Purdue Extension" more easily than the formal name. This is consistent with our branding strategy.

A final reason is that the short name gives your county name more prominence. Purdue Extension of White County shows the campus-county connection much better than Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service of White County.

Outside signs

Your sign's dimensions will vary, but it could look like the example below. Place the black arc in the upper left-hand corner. This arc is the same design Purdue Agricultural Communication and Purdue University use for publications. The text should have "Purdue Extension" first, then your county's name. Depending on the location of the sign, you also might put your address across the bottom.

An example of an outdoor sign.

Inside signs

You can use the same format on signs inside your office, or you can add the secondary marketing message: Knowledge to Go as shown below— the artwork and guidelines for using the Knowledge to Go mark are available at If you are not using the artwork provided on the Purdue Extension marketing Web page, note the type style. We tend to use Arial Bold for "Purdue Extension" and Arial Bold Italic for Knowledge to Go.

An example of an indoor sign using the Knowledge to Go mark.

I don't recommend using the Knowledge to Go artwork on outdoor signs because people won't be able to see "Purdue Extension" clearly as they drive by.

There is no central process to make signs. Each county office may want different shapes and sizes. Work with a local sign maker, but with these guidelines you can help brand Purdue Extension.


Steve Cain,

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