Logo Lowdown: Everything You Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask

We’re excited to begin using the sunburst logo!…but is this correct? It’s a question we often get at Smithsonian Affiliations, and one we are always eager to chat about. With a 95% recognition rate, the Smithsonian sunburst is one of the most widely recognized brands in the U.S. And Affiliates are the only organizations authorized to use these Smithsonian branding materials!

An exclusive benefit of being a Smithsonian Affiliate, your organization may use these logos and a special tagline for marketing materials, brochures, and signs. So as a refresher or a quick intro for our new Affiliates, here’s an overview of the logos you are approved to use, how to use them correctly, and a few other tips.

What logos are approved to use?
All Affiliates are strongly encouraged to use the Smithsonian Affiliate logo. This logo may be used on all marketing materials, websites, newsletters, brochures, and more. **Please contact us directly if your promotional material coincides with any fundraising, donation, or giving event as different rules apply.

mbrshplogo2Only those Affiliates participating in the Smithsonian Affiliate Membership Program may use this logo. If you are not including a Smithsonian membership in your own membership program offerings, ask us how you can begin!

What logos are not approved for use?
We have phased out the use of Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program logo. If you are still using this, please contact us for updated materials. In addition, Affiliates should no longer use the Smithsonian Affiliations logo in favor of the new, Smithsonian Affiliate logo. Our office will continue to use the Smithsonian Affiliations logo, but to provide you with a clearer representation of your organization in our national network of Affiliate partners, we ask you only use Smithsonian Affiliate in the future.

Where do I find the logos?
You can find the Smithsonian Affiliate logo on the Smithsonian Logo Guidelines page under Unit Logos. On this page, you can download the Smithsonian Affiliate logo package and browse the logo guidelines. Again, please do not download the Smithsonian Affiliations logo; it is for office use only. If you cannot find a file type you are looking for, contact us and we can help.

What is the tagline?
Smithsonian Affiliates are encouraged to use the tagline In Association with the Smithsonian Institution on building signage, websites, press materials and more. In addition, we encourage adding “a Smithsonian Affiliate” to your press boilerplate to easily distinguish your organization as part of this unique network.


May I use the logo and tagline together?
No. The logo and tagline are two separate marketing items for Affiliate use. They cannot be used together. However, you may use the tagline under your logo and Smithsonian Affiliate logo at the bottom of your marketing material. The logo and tagline may not be used in the same sentence.

hagleyAre there any specific tips for Affiliates?
Yes! Check out these documents to help guide you in communicating about your Affiliation:

  • Tips for adding Affiliations information to your press materials
  • 10 Tips to help promote your partnership
  • Smithsonian Affiliations Fact Sheet
  • Checklist: Take Advantage of These Smithsonian Affiliations Resources

What else should I know?

  • Anytime you are considering using the tagline or logo, please forward a draft to Elizabeth Bugbee or your National Outreach Manager. All mentions of the Smithsonian must be approved before being used.
  • The Smithsonian is always Institution, never Institute.
  • The sunburst must never be black.
  • The logo may not be used as part of a sentence.
  • Visit our Logo/Tagline section of our website for more examples.

As brand ambassadors to the Smithsonian, you are the connection to the national brand in your own community. Aligning yourself with this trusted and widely recognized brand can easily increase your recognition and raise awareness of your organization in our national network of Smithsonian partners. For questions, approval, and anything else, please contact External Affairs Coordinator, Elizabeth Bugbee (202.633.5304).