Applying the Identity

Social Media

Social media is a powerful medium to share relevant news, engaging stories, and an effective way to listen to and connect with the Stanford community. Read through our instructions and resources for unit social media accounts.

Best Practices

This best practices summary is designed to provide Stanford employees with guidance on planning, content, measurement, and other topics related to the successful execution of a social media initiative. These complement Stanford’s existing Social Media Guidelines.

Read the best practices documentation

Keep in mind:

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Social Media Profile Branding

For use on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, etc.

Social Media Profile Icons

Keep important information in the center circle

Social media profile icons use a mix of circle and square formats. When you are creating your profile icon, it is critical to keep the key content to a minimum and put it in the center circle because that is what most visitors will see. Many users will only use social media on a mobile device, so keep your icon as simple as possible because it will almost always display very small.

The icon's job is to provide context

Given the extreme economy of space, the icon's job is to provide a quick cue that this communication is connected to Stanford. The name of your unit can come through the name of your account which will be adjacent to your icon. Using too many words, displaying too many levels of heirarchy or your department signature, or using the Stanford Wordmark or University signature will all display too small to be readable.

Choose from these options:

Option 1: Block S

The preferred profile icon is a single-color block S with tree. You can use any of the Block S versions on top of Identity Colors that provide enough color contrast, preferabley either white or Cardinal Red.

Example: Stanford Official

Option 2: Block S + Image

Alternatively you can use a simple image that is representative of your unique unit and a small single-color Block S with Tree in the bottom left side of the circle. On Twitter, putting the Block S on the bottom-right can get covered for verified accounts.

Example: Stanford Arts

Option 3: Block S + Short Name

If you must use words in the profile image for your social channels, please limit it to no more than 12 characters. All text should be Source Sans because serif fonts will render too small to distinguish the details of the letters.

Example: Stanford Engineering

Download the Social Icon Template (.psd)


  • Choose one of the three styles
  • Keep it simple!
  • Keep important info in the center circle area
  • Use the name of the account (not the icon) to communicate the name of your unit if it's long or if there are levels of heirarchy to convey.
  • Use 12 or fewer characters if you choose option 3


  • Don't create a social account until you read through the Best Practices
  • Don't use the University Seal because it's too formal and implies official University communication
  • Don't use the Stanford Signature because it will be smaller than the minimum reproduction size
  • Don't use your department signature because it's too much information in a small space
  • Don't use a lot of words because they will be too small to read
  • Don't change the font if you do choose option 3
  • Don't use the plain Block S because it's not distinct enough

Cover Photos/Header Images/Channel Art, etc

Facebook, Google+ cover photos, Twitter header images, YouTube channel art, etc, should all be an image that represents the unique style of your department/lab/unit. Do not use a department signature. The use of this space should be intentional. Please choose images that are relevant to your unit, appropriate for your audience, and of sufficient resolution.

Optimal Dimensions

Profile: 360 x 360px
Cover: 851 x 315px

Profile: 500 x 500px
Header: 1500 x 500px

Profile: 250 x 250px
Cover: 1080 x 608px

Profile pulled from Google+
Channel art: 2560 x 1440px

Profile photo - 180 x 180px

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Quote & Image Template

We have developed styles for watermarking and image credits and attributing quotes for shared images on social channels. You can download and use our template.

Image with attribution


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Last updated: 8/29/16
  • 02/1/17 - Launched new website and reorganized content. Expanded profile branding section and added best practices section.