Company branding is essential for recognition and consistency. Many organizations create guidelines to make branding easy and straightforward. These guidelines specify which design elements to use to ensure that communications with clients and vendors have a uniform look and feel. 

The challenge with branding guidelines is that they’re typically not designed for e-learning. While uniformity creates a more consistent brand experience, it also limits color schemes, fonts, imagery, and other creative treatments.

Balancing branding guidelines with your goals for creating engaging and effective e-learning might seem challenging, but the following creative ideas can help.

Idea #1: Make a Case For E-learning as an Exception to the Rules

Creative e-learning is worth fighting for! Here are some excellent points you can bring up with your branding team.

  • E-learning isn’t static. It’s more interactive than a presentation. That interaction means you’ll need to modify images, layout, and text to accommodate a different user experience. 
  • E-learning serves an instructional purpose. To change a learner’s behavior, you need to connect with them on different emotional levels depending on the subject matter. Learners might find it strange or even off-putting to see a brand’s happy pink and purple color scheme playing a prominent role in a serious course on workplace violence prevention, for instance.
  • E-learning targets an internal audience. As long as what you’re creating uses a tone of voice consistent with the brand’s voice, the audience can interpret the actual looks in more subtle ways, like the course player color or the font choice.

Idea #2: Show the Client What “On Brand” Can Look Like

Don’t just tell your client about your vision; show them! A mood board displaying images, icons, navigation elements, color palettes, and fonts is a great way to present your ideas to stakeholders quickly. If you have more time, a branded Storyline 360 prototype can provide a more immersive experience, using custom fonts and color themes on a variety of common slide layouts. 

Idea #3: Define “On Brand” with Your Branding Folks

Another way to overcome strict corporate branding guidelines is to develop an e-learning-specific style guide. You can even invite your branding team to be your subject matter experts and help create a guide that reflects some of the brand’s core elements without sacrificing your courses’ instructional integrity or creativity. Check out this Storyline 360 style guide and this Rise 360 style guide for examples.


Looking for more creative solutions for dealing with branding guidelines? Check out these articles:

How have you creatively incorporated branding guidelines into your e-learning projects? Please leave a comment below to share your experience.

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Armand Nel
Megan Corker
Rich Cordrey

In my humble opinion, great IDs are problem solvers at their core. Working with branding guidelines is part of a common problem, and usually isn't difficult to solve. The scenario in which all eLearning being produced within an organization looks and feels like a disjointed conglomeration of random learning products, each with its own completely distinct flavor, is harmful to the big picture of a learning organization as well. I don't disagree that branding guidelines certainly are not designed with eLearning (or any learning) in mind, but I do think that it becomes an easy/lazy excuse for not coming up with a solution. I've yet to see a company that uses the guidelines to say that every color must unreasonably be within their palette (re: "I don't care if trees are green, our colors... Expand

Russ Lowder