Infographics: Following Brand Guidelines

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

A typical assignment for a graphics firm is to create infographics for a corporate interest or business that will publish them on a company website. In some cases, the graphic will be used for an internal company publication. These graphics usually have to follow a specific set of design parameters so that the company’s identity can easily be recognized.

Sometimes, the client company provides brand guidelines. In a case like this, your theme has been chosen for you — to support and promote the company or its cause. The company may have provided some of the art elements, too. Regardless, everything you design must fit with their mission.

Depending on the size of the company, these design rule books can be as long as 200 pages, filled with strict regulations meant to corral wayward designers into the company pen. This is understandable.

Using guidelines for logos, color, and font

Companies rely on consistency of color, font, tone, and more, to establish and protect their brand image and copyrights. Designers are artists, innately geared to rebel. Brand guidelines are a useful tool in uniting the two parties.

In general, brand guidelines provide specifications for these elements:

  • Logo treatment: How a logo can look and should look. Guidelines on the logo may include how it should be displayed, how to resize it with the correct ratios, or how to use alternate versions, such as a darker reverse. (Take a look at this figure to see Infographic World’s logo; this is how it would be reproduced in any publication.)

    Using brand guidelines to maintain consistency in logos.

    Using brand guidelines to maintain consistency in logos.
  • Color palettes: Many companies spend millions of dollars to have their branding designed by a “colorist” or “packaging designer.” The simple fire-engine red bulls-eye of Target department stores is unmistakable. Small children learn very quickly that red and yellow means McDonald’s.

    To ensure consistency of their brand identity, companies mandate the range of colors a publication should use when reproducing their logos. You will often see the colors of the corporate logo, plus a range of secondary colors that the client uses in its marketing materials and publications.

    This figure shows a swatch of colors, which is what you typically receive when designing an infographic for a client with specific brand guidelines.

    Providing specifications on colors and tones.

    Providing specifications on colors and tones.
  • Font usage: Many companies use a certain font to cement their brand identity. They’ve done the hard work of choosing a recognizable typeface for their company; it’s your duty to carry it throughout their graphics. Many times a font included in a brand guidelines package is designed for that company and no one else.

    Maintaining consistent fonts in infographics.

    Maintaining consistent fonts in infographics.

Working with your client’s specifications

Following brand guidelines can make your job easier, dramatically cutting down on the time you’d spend searching for the “perfect” font or color. Sometimes, guideline booklets even suggest a specific type of illustration or graphic that the client likes. Follow their lead, and you’ll probably have a happy client.

  1. Discuss brand guidelines with your clients.

    Most clients will be happy to send their guidelines to you as a PDF, via e-mail.

  2. Have the client send you the fonts they prefer.

    Fonts can be costly. Buying an entire family of fonts can run into the hundreds of dollars. Often, clients will send you their fonts for your one-time use in creating their materials.

  3. Keep in mind the sizing of the graphic and its usage.

    Printed material, advertising, animated content, and web graphics have varying size requirements, all of which can affect your design. For instance, a graphic used in a newspaper may call for a certain height and column width, whereas an assignment for a web graphic may specify pixel size.

Give the client a rough draft of the graphic showing their guidelines clearly applied to your work. This will signal the client that you were aware of the rules and implemented them.