Graphic Elements

There is a light and energy found  in Southern California that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. UCLA’s visual and graphic language, like the university itself and the city it calls home, vibrates with that energy, light and endless possibility. As the primary design element, the molecules in UCLA branding are versatile, visual metaphors for this bright promise, prisms through which secrets are revealed and knowledge is acquired. Molecules can evoke percolating thoughts and the sharing of information. Like the university motto, “Let there be light,” molecules carry a wealth of meaning. 

  • Molecules As Overlapping Elements

    As overlapping graphic elements, molecules are movement, percolating flashes of thought and energy, working in harmony with the other elements in a design. Natural, not manufactured, molecules help bring UCLA’s personality to life and support its positioning.

    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.

    In photos, one larger “activator” molecule may be used to highlight a focal point in the image. 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 the molecules without taking away from the image.
  • Molecules As Containers

    A large yellow molecule may also be used to hold a headline, in conjunction with smaller molecules surrounding it in white—a single molecule should never stand alone. Set the headline type in a contrasting color to ensure legibility. 

  • Factoids and Quotes

    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. Do not set blocks of copy within a molecule. Reserve their use for  calling out key information.

    No matter how this critical graphic element is used, however, it is not appropriate for every project. Before using a molecule, consider the audience. A Chancellor’s memorandum on a Regents meeting, for example, might not be the best place for this graphic element. But using molecules to convey UCLA’s enduring optimism in a presentation to prospective students and their parents might be.

  • White Backgrounds

    In certain applications, it may be necessary to use the molecule pattern against a white background. In these cases, it is okay to use the patterned molecules in a primary or secondary color only. Their opacity should vary between 5-20% so as not to overwhelm the other elements. This element should be used gently, like the light energy it represents.

  • Molecules As Small Graphic Devices

    The molecules can also be used as very small graphic devices that hold the introduction to a block of copy or adorn informative content, such as page or version numbers. This execution of the molecules is appropriate to use in conjunction with other elements or alone in designs that need to be very clean and direct.

    It is important that this usage is for adornment and not a distraction. For this reason, do not use more than three molecules at a time in this application.
  • Overlay Box Solid

    The second primary branding element in the UCLA design identity is the overlay box. 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 a solid overlay box. One way is to serve as a communication that needs to remain very direct, with minimal elements.

    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%. Type set within the overlay box should have a margin of at least .125 inches on all sides.

  • Overlay Box Transparent

    In addition to the boxes from the primary or secondary palette, you may use an overlay box in white or gray to create a transparent effect. If you are using a dark photo, you may use an 80% gray box multiplied over the photo to hold type. 

  • Overlay With Photo

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

  • Things To Avoid

    We’ve talked about some of the ways molecules can be used to good effect and some applications that should not be used. Here are some other 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 a time.