4 Ways to Get Creative with Brand Standards

Cortney Wood
Posted: February 22, 2018

There are few things more frustrating than our own enthusiasm being stumped by something that feels out of our control. My goal in writing this blog post (as a graphic designer) is to help alleviate that frustrating feeling by providing tangible ways to build off your enthusiasm — more specifically, for non-designers working on projects with brand standards to be followed.

In an effort to stump your frustration before it stumps you, I’ve compiled four tips for when you begin to feel limited by the brand parameters set for a project…

Familiarize Yourself

If you’re looking to inject your brand’s personality into traditional templates, pieces, and/or presentations — the key is to get to know the ins and outs of your brand. Invest a little bit of your time for a lot of clarity moving forward. Review the guidelines that have been set for your brand. A basic set of guidelines will show colors, fonts, and alternate logo options. A more advanced set of guidelines may show icons, certain phrases and brand voice, stock imagery examples, etc. Consider saving color codes and fonts to an easy access file on your computer. This way, you have something to quickly reference as needed. Another thing you could do is collect some stock imagery that aligns with what your brand is putting out (free via Unsplash, FREE REFE REAL LIFE PHOTOS, Picjumbo.) The more familiar you become with the standards set for your brand, the easier it will be to make choices that reflect its aesthetic, voice and intent.

Related: Must-Have Tools for Any Instructional Design Budget

Embody the Brand

One great way to maintain the spirit of your brand is to embody it. If your brand were a person, how would they speak? Are they energetic and encouraging, or no-nonsense and direct? Consider reviewing past newsletters and take notice of the tone in which they’re written. This way, when it’s time for you to step out of your shoes and into those of your brand, you’ll know just the direction to go! You may even have some fun doing it 🙂

Small Things, Big Results

It’s often easy to overlook the small things, so here’s your personal reminder to pull off the blinders and take a closer look. Do the icons and buttons throughout your website or materials carry a common trait? Are they outlined? Do they have rounded corners? Do their lines appear thick or thin? What about the alignment of text…centered? Left-justified? These are all small things that play a big role in the embodiment of your brand. More importantly, these minor details are things you can manage to build into your own efforts…no fancy software or design experience needed!

Size It Up!

Sometimes, getting creative within brand standards simply involves getting creative…brand standards aside. One simple way to bring visual interest and diversity to something you are working on is to increase the size of a shape, icon, or text. Seal the deal by applying a brand color to that particular item. By doing this, you’re creating distinction, thus constructing a hierarchy. This infographic provides a visual of 8 Possible Ways to Add Visual Hierarchy to your Design through size, contrast, symmetry, similarity, unity, grouping, color, and style.

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