Design a brand

Stay on board when designing

As you begin to conceptualize and plan your courses, always follow and respect the brand. If the client has a template or Style Guide to follow, use it. Just a reminder about the four areas to focus on with branding. They are fonts, layouts, color palettes, and imagery and buttons. Make sure you are designing on-brand which simply means you are using their rules and guidelines to create the courses. Most large companies these days offer their brand guidelines online. For example, here is the logo guideline section of Microsoft Corporate. It’s very thorough with guidelines for sizing and placing, and even showing examples of bad logo usage. These types of guidelines have been carefully thought-out and must be followed to the Again, we are respecting the brand. Good branding is incorporated into every part of the company. Letterheads, shipping labels, business cards, and eLearning courses. See how these examples all look similar? They all respect the brand. First, consider your font choices. Make sure the text is readable. Use corporate fonts if they’re available or make your own wise choices. If the brand guidelines already give you font choices, you must use those. I’ll share some tips on using them wisely. If you’re designing from scratch, you’ll be making choices on how the text will appear. Most typefaces evoke emotion, a reaction that can be good or bad but you want to use that reaction to make sure the fonts fit the project. Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re designing courses for Jones & Jones Law Offices, a fictitious law firm. You’re brainstorming on which typefaces to use. Here is the name of the law firm in two different fonts. Right away you can see the tone of one of these is inappropriate while the other could be considered a possible choice.

The first one evokes a wild west feel to me so I don’t think it’s appropriate at all for a law firm. But the second example could work nicely. It has a very structured feel and it’s bold enough to show up even when sized down but it’s still corporate. This font is Rockwell, by the way. Now let’s talk about layouts. You can mimic the look and feel of the brand with your layout choices. A minimalist brand would go with the cleaner, less cluttered layout for eLearning courses. Is it more of a colorful busy brand, or more streamlined? In this case, the slide on the left could be broken into multiple slides to make it appear less busy. On the slide on the right, you could tighten the letting, add more content and images to beef up the look to match a busier brand. Here’s another example. This is an interactive module on men’s fashion. The grey pinstriped background signifies class, elegance, and simplicity. The layout is very open and subdued with one bold element similar to a rule you might find in men’s fashion. Here’s an example of a very simple layout with a limited color palette of browns and blues. This slide has a lot of open space which makes it easy for learners to ingest. Next, always consider your color palette. You’ll be using corporate palettes or choosing your colors. Either way, how you use color can reflect the brand. The colors of the slides can play a surprising role in how the course functions. It’s important to understand the basics of color so you don’t distract the learner. These are extreme examples but they demonstrate how color can distract or draw in the learner. The colorful one on the left hurts my eyes so it would be a terrible choice for eLearning. The grey-scale one is the same layout but notice how it’s not so distracting. Using shades of one color particularly grey can make it easier to follow and gives a fresh monochrome look. The last example is a common one. Choose two primary colors from the corporate palette and use them throughout. Imagery also includes photographs. Whether you use stock photos or have an in-house photographer take the shots, there are many different styles to use in eLearning. Humorous imagery can be fun if the content isn’t too serious. First and foremost, check the brand guide for style and subject matter guidelines.