Digital

Graphic Elements

At UCLA, things are always looking up. The future is bright. And anything is possible. These are the hallmarks of an optimist and, visually, they are best symbolized by light and energy. That idea is translated into molecules, the primary design element used throughout the UCLA brand. Molecules are the visual language through which we tell UCLA’s extraordinary story. Light illuminates, educates, generates energy, and reveals new truths and knowledge. All of these ideas and aspirations resonate in the pulsation of the UCLA molecule.




  • Molecules As Overlapping Elements

    Molecules are percolating with thought and energy, many individual elements working in harmony as one. Their brilliance is not manufactured; they are the byproduct of energy, of innovation and of optimism. They are the light that makes UCLA graphics pop.

    Molecules should be used at varying opacities below 80%, depending on the other elements they are surrounding. When used as a pattern, they should most often appear in white—creating a shimmer effect.

    In photos, one larger “activator” molecule may be used in yellow and multiplied over a photo to highlight a focal point. The activator molecule should always be used in conjunction with an abstract molecule pattern and should highlight the action in the photo. Using the molecules over a photo, but dramatically pulling back the opacity, is the preferred way to add molecules without taking away from the image.
  • Molecules As Containers

    A large yellow or white molecule may also be used to hold a headline, in conjunction with smaller molecules surrounding it. Set the headline type in a contrasting color to ensure legibility.

    Molecules may also be used to house small bits of information, such as factoids or quotes. An outlined molecule using a 1-point rule may be used on top of or interlaced with a solid molecule to add dimension. The outlined molecule should be rotated so it is slightly offset from the molecule underneath. Take care that the effect is never sterile and, instead, conveys energy.

    However, it is important to recognize the audience when deciding whether or not to use molecules—they are not appropriate for every project (an event at the Chancellor’s Residence, for example.)

    Also, do not set blocks of copy within a molecule. Reserve their use to call out key information.

  • Overlay Box Solid

    Another branding element in the UCLA design identity is the overlay box, which is used in both digital and print formats. This gives shape and form to our brand identity, again for instant recognition and consistency. Although it can hold images, an overlay box is primarily designed to hold typography, allowing the copy to shine, control background or type legibility, or  place focus on information fields.

    There are a few different ways to use an overlay box. One way is in communications that need to remain very direct, with minimal elements, as shown here (on page). In this application, the box lies over a photo and extends on to white space to create a layered effect. It should be used in a color from the primary or secondary palette, and the box opacity should be between 80-90% to convey, light and transparency. Type set within the overlay box should have a margin of at least 8 pixels on all sides.

    While overlay boxes are primarily used for text, a photo may also be included in an overlay box.

  • Overlay Box Transparent

    You may also use an overlay box in white or gray to create a transparent effect. Use 95% opacity to insure that the type is legible. 

  • Ribbon Treatment

    In digital formats, ribbon treatments highlight copy, including factoids, short sentences and headlines. There are two types of ribbon color schemes: yellow ribbon and blue copy, or blue ribbon and yellow copy.

  • When using ribbon treatments over photos, try not to be too wordy. Short, punchy sentences are best because they do not take away from the image. The preferred format is yellow ribbon and blue copy.

  • Things To Avoid

    • Do not use molecules at 100% opacity.
    • Do not use the same percentage of opacity on each of the molecules.
    • Do not create geometric patterns out of the molecules.
    • Do not use patterned molecules in color when placed over a photo.
    • Do not add a stroke around a molecule unless it is offset and set in a primary or secondary color.
    • Do not set blocks of copy within a molecule.
    • Do not use multiple colors of molecules.
    • Do not place an activator molecule over a person’s face.
    • When using the molecule as a graphic device to adorn type, do not use more than three at once.