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County Seal

Administrative Office

County of San Luis Obispo

County Identity Standards

identity standards

The County's identity standards help you, the public, instantly identify County government. These standards help build a strong connection between who we are and what we do for the community. All County representatives and staff are directed to follow the guidelines in the County's Identity Standards Manual, which is a tool that demonstrates how to use the County's logo, Board seal, color palette, and font. 

Third parties or outside agencies may not use the County or logo unless usage rights are granted by authorized County personnel. The County Clerk-Recorder is responsible for granting permission to use the seal, while the Administrative Office is responsible for granting permission to use the logo. To use either mark, please contact the appropriate department to obtain permission. 

3 Things to Know About the County's Identity Standards

  1. It's not just a new logo. The County developed new rules standardizing how departments represent the County, a new logo, an updated seal, a brand standards manual, and stationery templates (letterhead, etc.) for all County departments. The development of all this included research, developing standards and rules, design of several logo options, surveys, and focus groups. All of this cost about $23,000 in outside professional services. To put that in perspective, other counties have spent upwards of $30,000 or even six figures to develop new standards. 
  2. The development of standards was a public process. This was not done in a vacuum. The project went before the Board of Supervisors for public review in 2015 and 2016 and the new standards were approved unanimously by the Board in December 2016. Prior to approval, the County also held focus groups (which consisted of employees and members of the public) to get opinions on the look and feel. The County made sure to include stakeholders in the process.
  3. These new standards will actually eliminate future design costs. Before these standards were adopted in 2016, there were no rules limiting logo development, which resulted in more than a dozen different logos representing County government. Now, the new rules will prevent departments from spending County funds on logo development. Instead, they can focus on spending their time and resources on providing important public services. To further reduce costs, departments have been instructed to only replace old printed materials with the new materials featuring the new logo or seal as they run out. We don’t want them to throw out anything they have already paid for. 


County Identity Standards Manual
County Mission Vision Values Poster
County Starts New Year with New Look

Frequently Asked Questions

Can County departments and employees use the seal?

Yes, County departments may use the seal if certain documents and/or materials. The official seal should be used on its own in all formal, ceremonial and/or official contexts that relate specifically to official Board of Supervisors correspondence, legal documents, notices, mandates, PowerPoint presentations, and/or resolutions approved by the Board of Supervisors.

By default, the official seal should not be used when the purpose is everyday communication to the general public, such as social media, department news releases, e-mail footers, government vehicles, business cards, letterhead, etc., unless otherwise approved by the Clerk-Recorder’s Office.

To avoid confusion, the official seal should not be used together with the popular mark or any other logo representing County departments. For more information on when to use the seal and when to use the popular mark, see page 12 of the County Identity Standards Manual.

Can County departments create a new logo?

That depends. Any new logos must be approved by the County Administrative Office prior to use. But even if the Administrative Office approves a new department logo, the department must pair that logo with the County's popular mark per page 13 and 14 of the County Identity Standards Manual

What are identity standards?

The most powerful companies, government agencies, and nonprofits not only have a great visual identity, but that identity is methodically reinforced across every single touchpoint. Having an identity standards guide that is strictly enforced throughout the County helps to ensure consistency, which helps the people we serve more easily recognize the County over time.

Who is required to follow the County's standards?

All County employees, elected officials and volunteers who represent the County or communicate on behalf of the County are required to follow the County’s identity standards. It is critical that all staff members follow the standards adopted by the Board of Supervisors to build consistency in our messaging and identity. Please see the Identity Standards Manual and Identity Standards Checklist for detailed information.

All third parties that request to use the seal and/or popular mark (logo) must also follow the standards outlined in the County's Identity Standards Manual. 

Why does the County need identity standards?

Many organizations have a set of standards The standards for identifying County government help establish and maintain a unified and consistent image that will ultimately help increase public awareness of County services and help constituents more easily identify what the County is and what it does for the community.

The whole point of these guidelines is to help every person in the organization understand our mission and uphold the integrity of the County in everything that they do. Providing context for what the County represents and how the various elements work together is intended to give employees a common language and reinforces the importance of a consistent identity. Additionally, documented identity standards can help onboard new employees or external agency partners by serving as a reference for communication materials.

The County has new identity standards to help build a strong connection between the organization and the public, while also building awareness of all that the County does for the community. County government is a very large organization that provides a wide variety of services to the public. As such, standardizing how it identities itself will ultimately make it easier for the public to identify County services, programs, staff, departments, etc. The new identity standards manual will help County staff manage how the organization is identified in order to increase public awareness of County services and government.