Guidelines for Permitting Use of University Name and Trademarks by External Organizations

The purpose of these guidelines is to safeguard the integrity of the University of Minnesota name and brand. This includes ensuring Sponsorship and Advertising partners align with the University and its values. Sponsorships and advertising on University or Associated Organization assets will be conducted in a manner that is consistent with the University’s mission, vision, strategic plan, and shared values.

University units and Associated Organizations may not engage in relationships, nor use university marks and logos, in connection with other institutions of higher education or healthcare and healthcare-related providers in advertising or in a manner that suggests university or Associated Organization endorsement or promotion of that entity’s goods or services without prior approval from University Relations.


  • Advertisement is any monetized pre-contracted signage, label, packaging, imprint, logo, sales promotion activity, public relations material or events, printed page or material, or other activity or communication that has the intent of promoting a non-University product, service, event, or organization.
  • Sponsorship is a relationship with an entity where that entity provides money, goods, and/or services to the University or Associated Organization, and in return, the entity receives a contractual monetized acknowledgment or other quid pro quo benefit of the Sponsorship.


Potential Sponsors and Advertisers will be evaluated on a range of criteria. Potential Sponsors and Advertisers should not offer services that conflict with services currently being offered by the University. The University reserves the right to select or reject Sponsors. In addition, certain categories of Sponsorship and Advertising are automatically excluded from consideration as listed below.

The University of Minnesota and its Associated Organizations will not receive Sponsorships or advertisements if the business or products sold are inconsistent with the University’s mission and shared values. Excluded Advertising and Sponsorship categories include but are not limited to:

Specifically, as it relates to sponsorships, there are three scenarios in which a third party may be allowed to use the University’s name and/or trademarks: 

  1. The third party has entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with a University department that includes the use of the University’s name or trademarks to convey the newly formed relationship factually. MOAs need to be reviewed and approved by OGC and any use of University name and/or trademarks need to be reviewed by University Relations before approval.
  2. A third party has entered into a licensing agreement with the University through the University’s licensing program. Licensing agreements are subject to review by the University and the licensing agency (CLC) to ensure they comply with licensing protocols and don’t have the potential to negatively impact the University’s reputation. 
  3. A third party has entered into a formal sponsorship to support the University’s mission through funding or other sponsorship contributions. All sponsorships are required to be reviewed and approved by the Office of the General Counsel. 

Permissible Activity

The University of Minnesota and its Associated Organizations may receive Sponsorships or advertisements from sole proprietorships and individuals. Nothing herein is intended to prevent the recognition of individuals who are associated with the University.

General Use of UMN Trademarks

Regardless of the relationship between the University and the third party (whether advertisement or sponsorship), the following guidelines must be followed: 

  • University trademarks may not be altered
  • University and sponsor trademarks must always be visually separated so as not to appear combined:
  • Examples of inappropriate use of the Block M
  • All uses of University trademarks by sponsors must be accompanied by the following statement: “Proud Sponsor of <Department/Event Name>”
  • Sponsors may also use the above designation in writing on sponsor materials without the use of University logos
  • Giveaways or promotional merchandise must be purchased from a licensed vendor. Please visit our Licensing & Trademarks page for more details. 

Use of UMN Trademarks by Sponsors

Often sponsors ask to post UMN trademarks in their communications to proudly state their support for the University unit they are sponsoring. If the use of University trademarks is documented in the sponsorship agreement, the sponsor would be allowed to use the University trademarks but will need to comply with the following standards:

  • Sponsors may promote their sponsorships through their own communications and advertisements, point-of-sale signage, other print materials, and premium giveaways.
  • In no way should any sponsor communication imply that the University endorses the sponsor or its products or give the impression that the communication is coming from the University of Minnesota. As such, the use of University marks should be secondary and smaller in size to the display of the sponsor marks. 
  • The use of University trademarks by sponsors is limited to indicating their support/proud sponsorship of the University unit they are sponsoring. University trademarks should not be combined with a sponsor’s brand/mark or for sponsor use to imply any other relationship that isn’t captured by a formal agreement. 
  • Sponsor advertisements should never display any University of Minnesota trademarks. By its nature, an advertisement promotes the sponsor’s products or services. A sponsor can advertise their products and at the end of the message indicate their support of/sponsorship of a University unit by including the sponsor statement: “Proud Sponsor of Gopher Athletics.” The sponsor statement could include the Block M for visual reference of the University but the advertisement should not include any other reference of the University of Minnesota or the UMN unit. 

Use of Sponsor Marks by UMN Units/Departments

Sponsor marks may be displayed but only on signage, printed programs or the webpage or digital channel that is for the activity or event they are supporting. Sponsor marks must be accompanied by a statement indicating why those marks are there, such as: "Company ABC is a proud sponsor of Welcome Week," or "Thank you sponsors" with a list of the sponsors in text or equal display of their marks who have supported the activity or event. This further establishes the relationship between the University and the third-party entity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Expand all

We would like to use the Block M (or other UMN Trademarks) in a press release about our collaboration. Is this acceptable?

Third parties may identify the University as a client/customer as well as describe in factual terms the product or service provided. However, they may not use University marks for any purpose unless for the use of University-facing applications or services.

We would either like to use or provide a testimonial. Can we use this?

No. University units may not provide testimonial quotes about a product or service received from a vendor. Statements that the University is a user or purchaser of a product or program are permitted if true. Because requests for endorsements often come in the form of statements in press releases, websites, videos, and print media, before disseminating a communication that refers to a commercial entity, product, or service, you should request a review by University Relations.