Design limitations can come in all shapes and sizes. The two most commonly faced are brand adherence – be that specific colours, typography or style – and time constraints.

Within the healthcare sector, in particular, there is a push to have more instructive brand guides and consequently produce more consistent materials across multiple platforms.

A designer may well baulk at these, seeing them as stifling invention and limiting the design process itself. But what if we saw this through a different lens, to see them not as limitations but as helpful markers to start the design process?

By having these limitations in place, we already know what to do in terms of type, colour and feel. We have been given a window into a client’s expectation, and it allows us to focus on the most critical aspects – the idea and the design. By utilising this creative head start, we can truly focus on the story that the design should tell.

When presented with a blank canvas, it’s possible to get lost in the small details and forget this story. When working within limitations, however, we can look past those – and push creativity beyond the obvious. Knowing we have the fundamentals in place, more confident design choices can be made.

Time limitations are something that every designer will face, but they too can be used as a positive. They force us to be more efficient, to think more about what can be achieved in the time available to us, rather than what cannot.

Many artists actively place their own limitations on their work. They set out to use a particular palette across everything they make, only using specific tools or sticking to one style of illustration. In this way, they can focus their efforts on creating something unique and different – on the underlying idea and design – while not being distracted by secondary concerns.

After all, it’s the core idea that will always resonate most. When a brand refresh falls flat, it is almost always because the agency has failed to answer the creative brief and the design is no longer telling the proposed story.

We must remember that some limitations are there to be pushed; with an onus on the designer working with the client in achieving this.

But limitations should not be feared. When viewed differently, they can be the stepping stones to focused creativity and allow us to stretch our imaginations. It’s all a matter of perspective.

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