University Policies
Policy Contact
Office of University Communications Email 401-863-6262

Designated Vendors for Marketing Services


Brown has a Designated Vendor Program to provide creative choice for offices and departments across campus that work with external vendors for various marketing communications needs, while also ensuring Brown meets federal requirements and other regulations related to marketing communications.

The Designated Vendor Program (DVP) responds to the growing need that universities maintain safeguards to ensure that marketing projects are completed only by vendors knowledgeable about laws governing areas such as accessibility, privacy and copyright. This policy establishes a pool of approved vendors that are knowledgeable about web accessibility standards; privacy laws related to photographing or disseminating images of individuals; the use of Brown's logo and trademarked identity, and other associated University policies.

Policy Statement

Departments and offices at Brown that work with an external vendor for their marketing projects — as an alternative to working with one of the creative teams within Brown — must select from an approved pool of vetted and trained vendors in five categories of marketing communications: photography, video production, visual design, web development and writing/editing. Contracting with an approved vendor from the Designated Vendor Program requires the appropriate Professional Services Agreement for each project. For the purposes of this program, a marketing service is defined as any creative service that promotes the University, its people and/or its activities using methods or approaches not considered news or documentary.

Only approved external vendors may deliver marketing communications services for Brown offices and departments. For departments and offices that work with an external vendor that has not been approved into the program after its October 2018 launch, the University will require the office to suspend the project, pay the unauthorized vendor for services rendered, and restart the project with an approved vendor. Because the Purchasing Office considers the vendors in the Designated Vendor Program as "preferred suppliers," faculty and staff do not have to obtain competitive quotes; however, they may still wish to do so to find the best price for their budgets. The Designated Vendor Program does not establish pricing or rates, but requires vendors to agree to maintain consistent pricing structures to protect against drastic variance in pricing across Brown. Competitive bids are required for any project over $250,000 that uses federal funds, as federal regulations require that those projects receive public bids.


Marketing Services: Any creative service that promotes the University, its people and/or its activities that is not considered news or documentary.


The Office of University Communications is responsible for vetting and maintaining the list of approved vendors, helping departments and offices select an appropriate vendor, and reviewing purchase orders for marketing services that are in violation of the policy.

The Office of Strategic Purchasing, Contracts & Insurance is responsible for notifying the Office of University Communications when a request for payment to an unauthorized external vendor violates the policy. Projects initiated with unauthorized vendors may be suspended and restarted with an approved vendor.


Selecting a Vendor

Vendors in the Designated Vendor Program pool have been reviewed thoroughly for their creativity, customer service and expertise. They have completed required training in complying with privacy and accessibility laws, as well as Brown’s visual identity and messaging strategy.

Departments and offices should contact when conceiving a project (several weeks or months before the project should begin, considering typical project timelines) to ensure there is sufficient time either to schedule the project with Brown’s Office of University Communications or to work with an external vendor to develop a Professional Services Agreement before work begins. Departments and offices will consult the list of approved external vendors and review the vendors’ online portfolios to see their work.

Executing a Professional Services Agreement

When a department or office has chosen a vendor to hire, they will execute a Professional Services Agreement for the work, per University policy.

Completing a Project with an External Vendor

At the completion of a marketing project with an external vendor, the department or office will be sent a brief post-project survey to evaluate the quality, customer service and cost of the delivered project.

Policy Owner

Approved By
Carly Kite Lapinski, Associate Vice President for Marketing Communications,, 401.863.3026, Jeanne Hebert, Senior Director, Strategic Purchasing, Contracts & Insurance,, 401-863-3366
Contact Info
Office of University Communications Email 401-863-6262

Policy Last Reviewed