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Guidance for the Baseline Expectations Logo Requirement

May 25, 2018, by Brett Bieber
Tags: InCommon Federation, Recent Posts, Trust & Identity

The InCommon Baseline Expectations for Identity Providers and Service Providers requires accurate metadata, including User Interface information, and a useful part of that is a logo that is meaningful to users. The metadata health check process is looking for a logo URL present for all entities, and the data shows that this element is a challenge for participants. The Community Trust and Assurance Board (CTAB) has developed the following advice for trying to tackle this issue.

Presentation and Usage

Logos are useful for identifying the IdP your user is associated with or the service they’re trying to access. Common places of presentation are on IdP discovery pages, sign-on, and consent user interfaces.

Discovery pages allow the user to browse through a list of available Identity Providers and select the provider they wish to use. While performing the sign-in process, the end user may be shown additional details about the service to inform their decision to continue or adjust attribute release through a consent interface.

For a sample of how this works, take a look at the eduTEAMS Discovery Service. Providers with logos are more easily recognizable and help users quickly distinguish among similarly named providers.


Service provider logos may be presented on consent user interfaces, such as this example from Duke University:


Baseline Expectations does not have any specific requirements for logo format, dimensions, aspect ratios, etc. The only validation performed by the Baseline Expectations metadata health check process is that a logo URL be present for IdPs and SPs in the metadata.

Important Notes:
Using an https (secure) URL ensures that your logo will display and prevent mixed content warnings or missing images. Using the PNG format with a transparent background is helpful to ensure your logo is presented cleanly on a variety of user interfaces. Contrast should be considered carefully and logos should have enough contrast to support presentation on a white background (e.g., avoid a situation where your logo could be presented as white foreground on on white background).

Questions & Answers

What if I don’t have a logo?
If you don’t have a logo, consider reaching out to your communications or public relations department. Many institutions have logo guidelines that indicate the proper use. Be sure to provide samples of user interfaces where the logo will be presented, the audience that uses your IdP or SP, and the format suggestions. It also may be helpful to provide sample logos from peer institutions or similarly scoped service providers. 

Is it OK to use the same logo for all Service Providers?
Yes, if you have a single logo for all of your services, that’s perfectly fine. The point is that the logo, in combination with the other user interface information, inform the user about the service they’re logging in to. If you’d like a set of logos, you might ask your communications experts for a “full lockup” (i.e., logo with text) to use for each of your service providers, or to specify an approved logo usable by any service.

For more information on the Baseline Expectations program, please visit the Baseline web page, as well as the Baseline wiki space.