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Design Guidelines

Perceptions of the Office of Information and Technology (OIT) brand are an accumulation of impressions, formed every time a person engages with our organization. The ways in which we shape these impressions — how our materials look, how we talk about ourselves, how we make people feel when they encounter OIT — comprise our organizational brand. Through our brand, we can ensure that the impact information and technology has on the ability of VA to serve Veterans and their families is visible, appreciated, and supported. This is why our brand is important.

Guidelines

  • Proper and consistent application of typography across all OIT products is an important part of conveying both legible and clear messaging to promote and maintain the OIT brand. The two primary font families are Myriad Pro and Georgia. Myriad Pro, a sans serif font that is modern, friendly, and easy to read, is the preferred font. Myriad Pro should be used for titles and body text whenever possible. For Microsoft applications such as Word and PowerPoint, you may substitute Calibri for Myriad Pro, as this is universally available. No other font substitutions should be made. Georgia should be used sparingly and only for emphasis.

    Avoid setting body copy at less than 10 point. For PowerPoint presentations, avoid setting body copy to less than 18 point. Use large headlines to convey warmth. Headings and subheadings should be between 14 point and 20 point. The size selected should be complimentary to and proportional with the overall design. Provided templates use pre-loaded styles to ensure consistency of font and size among the suite of products.

    View More About Print Typography
  • The primary image style for OIT is to use vector-based, flat illustrations. This means that no 3D effects are applied to images, including bevels, embossing, drop shadows, inner/outer glows, reflections, etc. Applied illustration and photography should be the highest quality obtainable within the limits of available resources. Imagery should reflect quality, resolution, sharpness, contrast, brightness, composition, and relevance to the content. Imagery should be representative of the audience, show diversity and show the scope of OIT’s work.

    Follow these image guidelines when using images in print materials, on the website, in video, or for social media. A consistent use of imagery ensures recognition of the OIT brand and values.

    Images used in OIT materials should include the following elements:

    • Is representative of the audiences and what they aspire to
    • Is authentic, realistic, sincere, and believable
    • Group images show diversity
    • No use of collages
    • Is not cluttered
    • Strong composition
    • Strong focal point/focus
    • Surprising use of cropping
    • Good use of natural light/one light source
    • Balanced brightness and contrast
    • Balanced color saturation
    • Does not use any overlapping color gradients
    • The overall feel of the photograph is honest, clean, professional, and sophisticated
    • Limited use of stock photography (see below)

    Other considerations:

    • Avoid use of image collages or montages
    • Never show guns in images as this does not represent the Veteran population
    • Images should show humans interacting with Technology, not display the technology itself
    • If an image is copied from a third party, ensure that it is acceptable to distribute and credit is given to the original creator
    • If an image is taken of a Veteran or VA staff, the subject of the photo must complete a release form

    Photography Elements

    Elements to remember when taking photos for OIT use:

    • Define type of photo (Veteran-centric, generic use)
    • Put the subject in a relevant context and environment
    • Ensure optimal lighting for subject (natural or artificial)
    • Be aware of wardrobe (no busy patterns, contrasting colors, wrinkles in clothes, etc.)
    • Create appropriate positioning and framing (rule of thirds, center, background, etc.)
    • Recommend capturing photos in high definition and using the RAW format for post-processing
    • Unless relevant to the article or page, images must not include any product logos.

    Stock Photos

    Use of stock photos is discouraged, but allowed in limited circumstances when illustrations are not appropriate or photos of Staff or Veteran customers are unavailable. When searching for stock photos, refer to the photography principles to identify acceptable images. Stock imagery should only be abstract and conceptual images. Stock photos featuring people are highly discouraged, but if necessary and relevant, should be group activities (group working around a table or participating in a discussion). OIT does not currently have a stock photo library or a subscription for stock photos. Images can be sourced using the following government resources:

    The use of Creative Commons licensed photos is permitted with the proper application of licenses by giving proper credit. For more information, refer to the use of Creative Commons attribution licenses.

    The asterisk(*) indicates a good source of photos in the public domain.

  • Each division within OIT is permitted to use a sub-brand to give their communications a unique look and feel. These sub-brands use modified elements from the master OIT design templates as defined in this design guide. Each division has been assigned an icon and a primary color. The assigned color for each division is applied to the header, icon (when present), and footer of materials templates.

    Use of Division Templates

    Division templates may be used only for inter- and intra-division communication. Any communication outside the division that represents an OIT function to a non-OIT audience must use an OIT template. When using an OIT template, you must have it reviewed by IT Strategic Communication to ensure accuracy of the information and design conformance.

    View Available Templates
  • In accordance with VA correspondence guidelines, all documents must retain the "Draft — For Internal Use Only" watermark until the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology has deemed it final or releasable.

  • This section provides instructions on the appropriate use of the Office of Information and Technology (OIT) Seal. The importance of using the Seal as specified by these guidelines cannot be overstated. Consistent application ensures our brand is accurately and compellingly represented. These guidelines apply to all office Seals and campaign or product logos.

    General Guidelines

    • Do not alter text or change font.
    • Do not distort proportions.
    • Do not break apart.
    • Do not rotate.
    • Do not position the Seal in close proximity to other text or images.
    • Do not scale the Seal at less than 0.75”.
    • Do not ghost or change opacity.
    • Do not overlay text.
    • Do not use drop shadow.
    • Do not place logo in a shape or overlay logo on an image.
    • Do not blur.
    • Do not use Seal alone without text.
    • Do not change Seal colors.
    • Do not combine with any other logo.
    • Do not overlay text.

    Size

    To retain the visual integrity of the Seal, it should never be reduced to smaller than .75” x .75” inches, with the title typography no smaller in relative proportion. The Seal should be reduced to its minimum size only when necessary. When the Seal is displayed at smaller sizes, details become lost and typography becomes difficult to read.

    Margin

    The Seal should have a clear margin, or clear space, to prevent nearby text or images from interfering. Maintain a space equivalent to half of the height of the Seal around the entire Seal. 

  • To align with the VA identity, OIT uses the VA Seal. Text to the right of the Seal provides distinction between other programs and divisions within OIT. Because the intent of the OIT visual identity is to bring together all OIT offices under a unified look and feel, the use of Seals below level three are prohibited, except when a VA-customer-facing organization. Use of a Seal below level three must be approved by the front-office. This section provides guidance for the use of each Signature level.

    Level One: VA Signature

    This is the primary VA Seal. Use this Seal when it is not necessary to draw a distinction between VA and OIT for an audience.

    Level Two: OIT Signature

    This is the primary OIT Seal, which should be used whenever possible. Please reference the general guidelines above for instructions on appropriate usage of the Seal.

    Office of Information and Technology

    Level Three: Division Signature

    Text to the right of the Seal reflects where that division fits within the OIT structure. Please reference the general guidelines above for instructions on appropriate usage of the Seal.

    IT Operations and Service

    Level Four: Office Signature

    The use of level four Office Signatures is prohibited.

    See All Signature Logos
  • The primary logo or representation for all OIT divisions and offices is the OIT Signature. OIT divisions and offices are not permitted to create their own logos. However, in limited circumstances, the use of icons are permitted as a part of the division brand. Icons can be used to represent divisions, offices, and governance boards, individually or collectively, in presentations and in communications materials, provided they are used to make the representation of divisions, offices, and governance boards simpler and more visually-appealing, and not used as a logo. Icons should be simple, flat in style, and contained within a circle shape.

    See Division Icons
  • All offices may create campaigns to highlight specific priorities, initiatives, or products, with approval from OIT leadership. Campaigns and products may include custom “wordmarks” using approved fonts found in this design guide. Logos must be simple and able to pair with the VA Seal. All logos and campaign material must be vetted and approved by the front-office.

    Preferred placement for logos is in the bottom corners of covers, posters, flyers, and other materials. The OIT Signature should be placed in the bottom right corner, while the campaign or product logo should be placed in the bottom left corner.

    In cases where space is limited, a special lock-up can be used in the bottom right corner.

  • To align the OIT brand with United States Digital Services (USDS) standards for federal government, we’ve adapted a new color palette. The new palette is “flexible, yet distinctly American and designed to communicate warmth and trustworthiness while meeting the highest standards of 508 color contrast requirements.” When utilized consistently, the palette provides a cohesive look and feel across all OIT materials. This section provides guidance on which colors may be used to represent OIT. 

    Primary Colors

    In accordance with USDS standards, OIT may be represented by four primary colors. The primary blue, commonly associated with trust, confidence, and sincerity, should be used as the predominant color.

    Secondary Colors

    These are accents created to complement the primary colors, while providing additional versatility to the OIT brand. They should be used in moderation as a tool to call attention to important features or information.

    Division Colors

    Within the OIT brand templates as defined in this design guide, OIT divisions are permitted to sub-brand their materials. Each division has been assigned a primary color for this purpose to be paired with the primary OIT blue.

    View the Color Palette
Disclaimer

Use of brand names and product names does not indicate an endorsement by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Office of Information and Technology, or any staff members.

Links to non-VA and non-US Government websites on this page are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by the Department of Veterans Affairs of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual. The Department of Veterans Affairs bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

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