INK Communications Co.

Digital Style Library

Project Background

While working on the brand guidelines for INK, I started to rethink how the resource could be most useful for the non-design team members at the company. Having read a lot about how digital design systems have helped companies maintain consistency and quality across their products, I wondered if a similar approach to our brand guidelines could help solve some of our challenges.

PDF guidelines tend to only offer surface-level direction on how to utilize a brand's assets, and file versioning and distribution can make it difficult to trust you have the most recent version.

Pretty, but a static booklet has limited usefulness.

In addition to being more interactive, digital guidelines can be a "single source of truth," a reference that people know is always up-to-date and accurate.

I spent time researching successful design systems, considering how they structure the website and organize content. I liked the common use of persistent sidebar navigation to keep content sections scannable and easily accessible, and I found that having a landing page that provided background on the system’s purpose to be helpful for new viewers.

Since our brand is mostly implemented by non-design team members creating PowerPoint decks, I wanted to tailor the content to their needs – quick access to all our brand elements with detailed guidelines on how to use them properly.

I started brainstorming how we could use a digital format to improve the usefulness of the guidelines for each brand element.

My goal was to make the library as easy to use as possible – logos can be downloaded in various formats and colors, and logo SVG code and color hex codes can be copied with the click of a button.

We made sure to describe things in nontechnical language and provide visual examples for each element. We continue to tweak the content as our teammates give feedback.

Once the library was fleshed out enough, I worked with the Creative Director to draft an email to the company leadership explaining the problem need and the solution I had been working on.

I knew it would be important to over-communicate why investing in such a tool could benefit our team, so I provided anecdotes and research examples of how other companies had successfully used design systems to improve their consistency and efficiency.

With leadership's approval, I coordinated meetings with our content writers to draft the messaging sections of the library – descriptions of our customer personas and tone of voice would be useful to have on hand when writing for INK.

The library continues to evolve as we identify content that should be added and sections that could be executed more clearly, but so far it has proven to be a really valuable asset for our team!

Project Takeaways

  • It’s worth considering if the way you usually do something is solving the problem in the most effective way – we were so accustomed to creating PDF guidelines that we forgot to question whether it was actually a beneficial resource.
  • It pays to over-explain and share research findings when trying to get buy-in on an unfamiliar project. Being able to demonstrate the value up front can help too! In this case, I worked on the initial sections of the library in the evenings, so when I presented the concept I already had proof to share with the team.
Presenting the design thinking behind our new brand to the team.

Timeline

  • August 2019 – September 2019

What I Contributed

  • Web Design
  • Web Development
  • Project Management
  • Strategy and Research
  • Project Evangelism

Who Else Contributed

  • Emily Grossman // Feedback and Suggestions
  • Ryan Riggins // Feedback and Suggestions
  • Abby O'Connor // Copywriting
  • Rachel Murphy // Copywriting