Making the most of the flexibility in the brand

Two important goals we needed to accomplish while creating the U of I brand was for it to be unified, yet flexible. It’s important that we’re unified when we need to be – that’s the whole point of establishing a university-wide brand – but we also understand that we need to allow for design flexibility for unique units, audiences, events, etc. 

While there are straight-forward guidelines in terms of the colors and which fonts to use, there can be a lot of flexibility with how you use those elements. There’s also a lot of room for creativity when it comes to photo treatments and graphic elements you use in design.

For example, we have the Illini fingerprint and word clouds outlined as our graphic elements. This doesn’t mean those are the only graphic elements you can use. In the design mockups below, you’ll see that I’m using fun illustrations in some applications. These obviously aren’t in the brand guidelines, but I’m using them consistently, and in the color palette. Hand-drawn illustrations can be successful as they add visual interest and can bring out specific elements of what your unit does.

Using typography as a flexible design element can achieve a similar goal of adding visual interest and reinforcing your unit. Make sure you’re sticking to the family of fonts on the typography page, but try using them in different ways. I like using Montserrat as a repeating design element in the background of materials, like in the blue Siebel Center mockup below).

Don’t let the brand guidelines stop you from creating innovative designs – just use them as parameters, and have fun!