5 tips for achieving brand consistency

Illustration of a man stitching up the top of his own head

Knowing how to follow brand guidelines (opens in new tab) can be a bit of a mystery. It's a practice that isn't taught much at design schools, so students can sometimes emerge into the workforce with no experience of how to process a brief.

Fortunately, though, the concept is simple enough. Designers are provided with an outline by their client, along with assets and how they are intended to be used. However, keeping work consistent with a client's existing branding is a whole other challenge in itself. To help designers get the right look, we spoke to branding guideline geniuses.

01. Do your research

“Some big brands make their guidelines available on Issuu (opens in new tab),” says Jess Dutton, junior designer at Mobas (opens in new tab). “Look for a brand you know and like, and read their style sheet. You’ll change your perspective, gain an understanding of the design process, and realise what goes into creating something.”

02. Stay creative

“Don’t let brand guidelines hold you back on your creativity,” says Joe Bembridge, junior designer at Brandon (opens in new tab). “These guides are put in place not to limit creativity, but to help a brand stay recognisable and consistent,” he points out. “But if you do go against the guidelines, make sure you have a valid reason for doing so.”

03. Make suggestions

“If you feel something could be improved, suggest that to the client, or even make a concept variation to show how a brand could look with your improvements,” says Andrius Petravicius, digital designer at Superrb. “Yet if the client insists you follow their guidelines, don’t ignore them.”

04. Harness software

“To make sure I follow the guidelines carefully, I’ll take a screengrab of the most important parts: the colour references, font, and point sizes,” says Tom Tennant, motion graphics designer at Gramercy Park Studios (opens in new tab). “I also find it helps to copy the brand colours into whichever software you’re using so you have a palette that’s easily accessible.”

05. Ask questions

“Raise any questions you have as soon as possible, rather than when you’re midway through the work,” advises Laura Wynn-Owen, junior designer at Nelson Bostock Group (opens in new tab). “If there’s anything you’re unsure about, ask. Even senior designers need guidance. There are no stupid questions when it comes to brand guidelines.”

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Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity (opens in new tab), published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.