Creativity within the confines of a brand identity

In Blog article by Freethinking Business Consultants

By Lize Smith, UI Designer at Freethinking

UI designers sometimes have the good fortune of working on many different brands and projects. This appeals to our need for change and exploration and inspires us to keep producing new and exciting designs. However, more often than not, we consult and work on a single brand for months or even years at a time.

So what happens when we are faced with a strict brand guideline and the prospect of churning out design after design in the brand mold.

Know the brand so that you can find the loopholes

A strong brand identity does not have to be the death knell of creativity. To stay creative within a brand, a designer has to know the brand inside and out. Good designers will be able to find the loopholes within the brand and use those to push the boundaries of design. It is also good to remember that a set of rules gives one a good starting point – the basics have already been thought through, and we can build on that.

Brands are puzzles

Each brand is like a puzzle, which has to be solved for every layout, banner or other design we produce. In certain client environments, such as financial services, for instance, this is even more important. Here, we generally strive for clear, consistent and beautiful designs whilst maintaining the brand identity.

Continuing the example of financial services, how do we as designers present ‘bank speak’ to a potential banking client so that they are excited by the product and would like to sign up right away?

This is the challenge that can actually fuel a lively interest in any brand we work on. It can be very satisfying to solve the brand puzzles in such a way that we don’t break the rules yet still produce something of which we can be proud.

Each brand is like a puzzle, which has to be solved for every layout, banner or other design we produce

Digital is often forgotten.

In certain cases, an organisation may not have a comprehensive style guide that considers digital platforms. Print guidelines simply don’t work when designing websites or apps, for example. It’s in this white-space that we can make a difference to the client… we have the opportunity to create designs that represent the brand truthfully while at the same time pushing the boundaries that print imposed on it.

There are several ways we can do this. Animation and transitions on a web site or app can create a very distinctive flair. Even the smallest item can make a brand memorable if executed well. Take the Twitter ‘heart’ as an example – we all know where that heart is from the moment we see the animation. Such a small thing, yet it stands out to everyone that sees it.

Similarly, we can present information, lead users to explore further and ultimately remember their experience on the brand’s digital platforms as positive.

Remember… brands are fun!

If viewed from the right perspective, any design exercise within the confines of a brand identity or style guide can be great fun. We all appreciate a good challenge, and there is no better challenge than the one we face most often – the style guide.