Common branding terms that graphic designer use and what they mean

common branding terms and what they mean

Common branding terms that graphic designers use and what they mean for your business

Branding your business can feel a bit daunting. You know it’s an important task and that great branding can speak to your dream customers and keep them coming back for more, thus making your return on investment exponential!

So therefore you spend ages researching and looking for a designer. Then when you find one they use strange branding terms that you have never heard of before and you start to panic!

It can feel confusing and exhausting trying to figure out and keep up with what your designer is talking about. However, have no fear it’s not actually too hard to get your head around, shall we dive into some common branding terms?


A brand is a name given to a product or service that takes on an identity. This is through many design elements which come together to create a perception of what you do/sell for a specific audience. 


The act of creating a brand. This is through a strategic process normally undergone by a graphic designer, where certain elements are designed intentionally to create a specific perception for your target audience.


A change in direction for your brand. You may; be offering a different service or product, have a different target audience, evolved as a business or DIYed your branding when you first started but now it needs a set of professional hands. 

Many businesses big or small will have re-brands to make sure they are creating the right brand message to their target customer as they naturally evolve over time. 

Brand identity

A brand identity is the visual elements of a brand that distinguish the brand in the consumers mind.


A logo is a form of identification of your brand. A logo represents the brand but, is not the brand itself. When a consumer looks at a logo it should symbolise your product or service, not be it. A logo is one of the elements that builds up a brand identity.

Click here to read more about why a brand isn’t just a logo.

now and then brand sheet by melissa carne


Your primary logo is your main logo. It will include your business name and/or a simple illustration or icon. It is normally your customers first touch point with your brand and is highly important.


A secondary logo is your primary logos partner in crime. It will normally have elements from your primary logo such as a letter or use of the illustration or icon. The secondary logo is normally used more informally and if the primary logo is already present somewhere. It is good for fitting in smaller spaces such as profile pictures or favicons.


A graphic symbol that represents an object or function. You can find icons in logos but, they are more often used to visually represent a form of communication. For instance the male body icon and female body icon found on toilet doors are use to represent which gendered toilet you should choose to enter. Icons are one of the elements that build up a brand identity.


Typography is the art of arranging type to make words and letters readable and appealing. This takes a lot of skill and is normally overlooked because we almost always see it done correctly by professionals, it will be pretty obvious when it doesn’t look right. 


A typeface is the design of lettering. It can include many variations such as bold, regular, light, italic etc. A typeface can exude a lot of character for your brand and it is important to pick it carefully. Typefaces are one of the elements that builds up a brand identity, you would normally have two complimentary typefaces in your branding.  


The variation in a typeface, for instance Helvetica light is a different font to Helvetica bold. 


A selection of colours that represent your brand. A colour palette is one of the elements that builds up a brand identity. It will help make your brand instantly recognisable to your target audience. Colours can carry a message behind the design on visual and psychological level. If you want to know more about this have a look at colour theory.



An illustration is a decoration, interpretation or visual explanation of a concept or process. There are loads of illustration styles out there and each one can connote a different feeling to a brand. Illustration can be one of the elements that builds up a brand identity. However, if your brand does not need illustration to communicate the brand identity it may not be needed.


This is how you treat a picture. Most brands use images to help communicate ideas or show products to their customers. How you use your imagery can be another element used to build up your brand identity and again the way in which it is used can determine a certain look or feel.

There are many ways in which images can be represented. Ever heard of the expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Well you can also do about a thousand things with an image. How are the pictures shot? From what angles? Are they candid or staged? Are they colour graded? Black and white? Do they have graphic elements on them? The list could go on and on.


This is how your brand speaks to your target customer. For instance, you could choose for your tone of voice to be professional and serious or lighthearted and chatty. Tone of voice is an element which builds up your brand identity. A graphic designer can help determine where your tone of voice should sit which compliments the rest of the brand they have built. However, normally this role is then given to a copywriter who can you help you further with this.


I hope that this blog post was helpful and under picked what some of the most common branding terms used by graphic designers mean. I have honestly just skimmed the surface and can see this blog post being one that I come back to time and time again to add more too.
If you have any questions or are still confused please get in contact with me by emailing also check out my instagram for some more behind the scenes and branding tips.

Lots of love, Melissa x

branding terms that graphic designers use

Find me on my socials