I'm working on the educational exhibit signage for a forest-preserve visitor center. The forest preserve has a book of branding standards, but the standards seem to apply mostly to outdoor interpretive signage, not indoor exhibits. The original instruction we were given from the client was to come up with an original design for the exhibit, but later on they went back on that instruction and asked us to design using the brand standards for the county forest preserves.

My boss thinks that it would be better if we were able to design the exhibit using a design direction chosen by us, rather than the standards provided, and wants me to come up with a few arguments for doing this instead of using the forest preserve’s standards. As for precedents, the last couple of redesigns of nature-center exhibits (by the forest preserve) did not use the standards. The older nature centers have a mix of forest-preserve signage and DIY signage printed or painted by the staff.

I am aware that we eventually have to make the decision ourselves based on the specific situation, but we want to consider all the relevant points. Therefore I am asking: What are general important points to consider for or against using existing standards in a situation as outlined above? What are possible arguments for having a different graphic look and feel for the nature-center exhibit?

  • Some questions, if you have the answers it would be interesting to include them in the question. 1- It's not possible to make both possibilities for a first presentation to the client? 2- How old the original branding standards are? 3- Is there a possibility that the new design is or appears to be a modern update of the standard?
    – user120647
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 21:30
  • Without seeing these "graphic standards" and knowing what limitations these will impose on the final design, I think it's going to be rather difficult to answer this question. Does your boss think the branding standards are too limiting? Couldn't you create two mockups, one with the branding standards, and one without, then show them to your client for approval before continuing with the project? Good design usually speaks for itself.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 1:20
  • 2
    .. Everyone always thinks they know better than any brand standard guidelines.. doesn't matter what company, what guidelines.. it's the nature of many people (especially those in a power position) to think they know what is best. Guidelines are there for a reason. It makes absolutely no difference if others have broken standards previously. -- Just my 2¢
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 9:44


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