Creating a client's creative vision while respecting brand guidelines.

Today I would like to share a story of my long-time (first) client, Volleyball Alberta. In a previous post, I shared how we collaborated to update their established brand. Since then, I continue to support as their brand advisor and creative for projects as they arise. One of these design projects is their event shirt designs. 

I just finished working with the new summer camp staff to design their new branding. This position gets fresh faces each year, and with that fresh perspectives. When they approached me, they had a desire to create an image that their campers would want to connect with after the week.

In previous years I have created designs that utilized the flexibility of the customized typeface created for the logo and styling that respected the brand image while also shows a connection to the brand.

The staff this year provided reference images they created which were based on a crest design that would mimic the Alberta provincial crest. I was directed to create a less ‘child-like’ bubble feel, to connect with their camp audience.

The challenge for me, as the creative, is to respect the client’s vision while also ensuring the brand isn’t altered. There needed to be a visual connection so the brand and overall design would show unique while also be part of the brand creative family.

To start, the client’s creative used a typeface that was not the brand version and was altered to fit a space and space where the message was lost. Looking at the vision - the Volleyball Alberta “A" icon was made the central focus, which I built on. 

I also felt the heavy use of copy at the bottom unbalanced the feel. So I provided the following creative options for one of the camps, the Jasper Volleyball Camp (JVC) to spin off of.

I also like to mock up the graphics on end use clothing samples to give the client a feel for how the visual will work in action.

With some back and forth - the client found a direction they preferred, and we tweaked. So below you can see how the evolution of their original concept worked into a final design. They chose the 3rd options with some adjustments, removed the double border and altered the style date from Since 1973 to the correct EST. 1974. The chosen design also was created in EPS version for silk screening, so the blue seen would be the colour of the shirt coming through. 

Once we had defined the JVC camp design, I then took this as a framework and created options for the Sylvan Lake Volleyball Camp (SLVC) design.

The design was the same, just a different style of water graphic. We tweaked the water design and voila.


Each project for me is an educational opportunity. Over my last twenty years in the business, I have larned a few insights when it comes to collaborating with my clients.  

  1. Providing your sketches and creative illustrations is a great ‘starting point’. But do not expect the designer to produce the same illustration in return. 
  2. Respect the artist’s skills and insights. Trust the designer to take your vision and blend it with the corporate brand to ensure visual consistency. 
  3. Collaboration always ends in a better result. When both client and designer listen and respect what each has to offer, you are more likely to create designs that are professional and meet the needs of the company with your creative vision.