Following Branding Standards in eLearning

Hello, 

I'm curious what others have experienced when creating corporate training and how much or how little pressure there has been to follow branding standards.  Clearly company logos and branding standards must be followed, but what about things like the font in the course itself? Do you have to use the official company font througout the course? That seems limiting to me as if doing a comic book style course, the corporate font is likely not the best choice.  Or, if there's a scenario with a whiteboard/chalkboard, the maker/handwriting fonts are better suited to the content.  Another example would be corporate colors - again, in the logos, I understand that's got to be the standard... but some official company colors may limit or detract from the content of a course.

Has anyone had pressure to use follow corporate branding conflict with some of the smaller details of elearning like this? Any suggestions for handling this?

Thanks!

15 Replies
Laura M

I've done mostly site-level internal courses and no one cares (we are just one location for a global organization). I'm trying to develop a more standard style for myself, just for ease of creating new courses down the road and to keep a consistent look and feel for our training. 

For the one corporate-level course I'm working on, I did read through all of our branding guidelines and am using the standard font, as well as a palette based on the main colors used in our marketing materials. However, it still seems that no one really cares! I haven't had to use the logo anywhere either. These are all internal for employees only, so I'd imagine when they create courses for external customers, there is a more standard template. I'd love to branch out and try some more creative styles, like comic book, but I think that will be reserved for a local training.

Steve Flowers

Really depends on your communication department. I've been places where they don't care. Also been places where they don't care as long as you don't make the brand look bad with an oogie composition. 

One of the things I try to do is to take one key from the corporate brand for frame and navigation elements and go with a plain canvas, usually white or off-white. This way, I have some separation between the carrier / frame and the messaging. I also try not to add the logo to the frame. The first slide of the course and the last slide of the course, the logo will have more impact. The keyed color carries the brand through the rest of the program. 

As for fonts, some departments are stinky about it. But it sounds like you're doing a treatment. If you were clear when you used the comic font as part of a graphic or illustration and used the standard copy font for the rest, you might be good to go. Couldn't hurt to put together a comp and bring someone in the art department a good coffee

Jackie Van Nice

Phil Mayor said:

Depends on the organisation, some will follow it completely others will give you carte blanche to do what you want.


Yes. Depends on the client. For mine, I show them what I want to do branding-wise along with my full-blown project demo, and brace for push-back on colors, fonts, layouts, etc.

So far I've always been lucky and they've seen the value and interest that compatible-yet-fresh branding elements bring and I've gotten carte blanche. With future clients...who knows!

But I guess that doesn't answer your question, Sue. For the kinds of details you're talking about, I honestly haven't got a clue how I'd be able to tolerate that.

If I'm building a scenario and the font on the book cover and the guy's name tag have to be the corporate font, and the book's cover and the guy's shirt and glasses and the walls and chairs and sky all have to be part of the corporate colorways - what are we doing?

My argument has always been: So you want to change the entire world so it's branded for the company? It's not rational. If you're portraying or simulating anything from real life in your courses (which I'm sure you are) you need to portray real life and not just the corporate style book.

That's what I would explain as I presented my lovely course that was appropriately branded; yet maintained its integrity as a design that makes sense.

Cheryl Theis

Our corporation is very strict in following our branding for example layouts and colors schemes which I have found challenging.  Grey and red do not always blend well with images, but it is what it is.  Slowly, I have been able to adjust our templates to only have the company logo above the menu and removed the awful header at the top of the screen.  It is amazing how 1.25 inches of real estate gives you to be more creative.  Each course, I try to make minor changes and build on what gets approved. Its a work in progress.

Kirsten Smith

We are required to follow corporate standards for colors, font, logo, watermark, and legal language in our course library. All the courses are in the same player, and the player has been customized to match our branding standards. We are required to use the same colors for all the arrows, callouts, buttons, etc. that we use within the courses, and we also have to use photographic characters...management doesn't like the illustrated ones. We are starting to make more demo videos internally, and they will have a similar set of standards to follow. I would love to have more flexibility in our course design, but our company is more interested in consistency.

Ashley Chiasson

It definitely depends on the client. I have clients who have very strict guidelines that can't be veered from - they get a storyboard, then want a power point storyboard, then want a storyline output and everything must align with one another and the style guide. This can be a bit frustrating. However, I have a slew of other clients who really let me run wild within their general branding guidelines. 

Typically, I try to stick with their colours/font/general look and feel. 

Cary Glenn

@Kirsten

I worked for a company like that. It was frustrating. Especially when some of the requirements didn't make sense. Another frustration was  that another department took on the task of developing the standards but didn't bother to consult with other internal training departments. (We had separate training depts. for different divisions and corporate.) It also didn't allow for branching, they also tried to enforce a "no audio" requirement.

I'm glad that where I am now I basically have almost total control of the look and design of the course.

Steve Flowers

I was in a position where I attempted to enforce some standards. Some of the standards were pretty restrictive but it was clean for the most part. Some folks followed, others didn't. What I came to understand was the shell didn't matter. We were missing the point entirely by attempting to enforce a frame in which to pour content. We ended up outlining some guidelines with a few requirements (like make sure the navigation is in a common place) and made a few starter examples. This worked best. Less frustrating and we got down to focusing on what was most important.

Some folks will get that. Others, unfortunately, won't Territories...

Kirsten Smith

Cary Glenn said:

@Kirsten

I worked for a company like that. It was frustrating. Especially when some of the requirements didn't make sense. Another frustration was  that another department took on the task of developing the standards but didn't bother to consult with other internal training departments. (We had separate training depts. for different divisions and corporate.) It also didn't allow for branching, they also tried to enforce a "no audio" requirement.

I'm glad that where I am now I basically have almost total control of the look and design of the course.

No audio? Ugh! I can see why you were frustrated. I'm glad you've moved on to a place where you can let your creativity fly.
Dane James

At the company I work for the elearning format is pretty open about what it looks and feels like, but it is reviewed by a development team before it goes to test. We had strict rules on our PowerPoint production for the simple reason they were instructor lead and we did not want our instructors trying to use many formats which could be confusing. When we moved toward eLearning some folks were still stuck in the structure of the PowerPoint way, it has been the biggest challenge for some to get creative and make their programs pop. We are still learning things like button formatting and placement of those buttons so as not to confuse our learners and how to attract ones attention to an area we want them to focus on when viewing a screen. So I guess we our open to design change but some things that still need to have structure.

I suggest......Make a program following the strict rules and make the same program with all your creative eLearning know how and present them back to back to the concerned parties. I have done this with good success. This is what we have...this is what we could have, some just can't picture a painting without seeing it.

Good Luck

Diana Myers

Hey Sue - I can understand your frustration, and clearly there's a wide variety of situations and clients out there.  One suggestion on handling it is to create a couple mock ups for the client/project owner to compare.  e.g.  Here's what our awesome new comic book style course looks like with our corporate font/branding, and here's what it looks like with a comic-appropriate font.  Same goes for a white/chalk board themed course.

It could be a long shot, but maybe visual examples of how good courses can look if the rules are relaxed for certain themes could help sway enough opinions to gain permission to try it.

Good luck!