Differentiating local chapter/affiliate

Any thoughts here on how to differentiate the graphic design of a local chapter of a national organization?

If the national organization has a strong and well developed identity program, with specified colors and typeface, strong logo, clear identity, etc., how does a graphic designer stay within those (fairly strict) parameters while giving the local chapter it’s own distinct graphic design style?

If the national organization really does have a strong and well-developed identity program, that program will also address the issue of how to incorporate that identity at the local level.

If their national identity guidelines don’t do this, much might depend on the organization’s culture and how closely other local chapters tend to adhere to those national guidelines.

If it were me, I’d bring up the question with the local chapter and then follow their lead on how tight they think those parameters are.

It could be something as simple as adding the words “Timbuktu Chapter” as a tagline to the logo or making sure that any text or headlines help make the distinction clear in those instances when it needs to be clear. On the other hand, they might tell you to pay lip service to those national guidelines, but not to slavishly follow them. It really should be their decision or it could come back to bite you when the subject finally does come up, which it will.

Bringing up issues like this with clients this is part of your role as a designer and consultant. Remember, design is probably more about problem solving and considering client objectives than it is about aesthetics.

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Thank you Just-B!

Yes, the national guidelines do provide local affiliate guidelines. As you surmise, this is primarily using the national logo with the local affiliate ID tucked in under the logo.

I have been hired as the in-house graphic designer for a local affiliate and am trying to figure out how to make the local affiliate have a unique identity within the national guidelines. I appreciate your general suggestion to explore the flexibility the national organization allows within (or just outside) the national guidelines.

By the way, the national guidelines include text alignment for various elements, etc. So it’s pretty specific.

It is hard to suggest what to do without seeing the guidelines. I would take a look at other chapters to see how they’ve tackled this issue as well. Sometimes it can mean leaving the logo simple (national logo with chapter below it) but using color or images in the actual projects to stand out better.

I’d be careful about that. There is a lot of value in keeping close to an established national brand. At very least, you should see if the national organization has a person or company designated as brand manager, and run your ideas by them.


This is sage advice.

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