12 Common Branding & Design Terms, Explained

31 July 2020


Let’s clear something up today… Terms for business branding and design get thrown around an awful lot. Various different terms are used relating to similar things and it can end up a tad confusing to say the least. I get it, and to be honest I find it frustrating too. Seeing numerous terms thrown around can be off-putting and there’s nothing worse than going into branding or design services with no understanding of what you’re getting into.

Use this glossary to help you traverse the wild west of branding and design jargon.

Design Terms


Brand collateral encompasses any marketing material that goes alongside your business to support and promote your product or service.

It’s the tangible evidence of the brand, think flyers, business cards, stickers, icons, packaging, presentations, promotional graphics, newsletters, opt-ins, thank you cards – the list goes on. In a nutshell, it’s anything besides your regular branding and website design that will support your business.

Colour Palette

A collection of the chosen colours for a brand, combined into one palette to emphasise how the colours work harmoniously together.

No two brand colour palettes will be the same, but each will immediately set the tone and feel that the brand is trying to get across. The colours will be used to create all of the brand collateral and designs and should be instantly recognisable for each brand.

Mood Board / Inspiration Board

Often used at the beginning of a re-branding or design process, moodboards are a selection of graphics, patterns, images or illustrations that speak to the brand and it’s vision. Comprised of different textures, scenes and tones, they bring varying elements together to create a cohesive feel for the brand.

Designers often present moodboards to clients before beginning a design project to ensure both are working along the same visual identity and are happy with the direction of the brand design.

Mission Statement

The dreaded phrase by many small businesses, a mission statement outlines who your are, what you do, who you’re helping and how.

Many small business will question whether they really need one, the answer? Yes. It’s the one thing will give you an immediate identity and allow your audience to easily decide whether they connect and resonate with you brand. It only has to be one or two sentences max, but it really couldn’t be more vital to your businesses direction and purpose for existing.


‘A brand is more than just a logo’…. We’ve all heard it a thousand times, but the reality is a brand is nothing without a logo.

It’s the graphic designed to represent your brand within a glance – it can include your business name, tagline and often an illustration or icon. Every brand should have a primary logo, secondary/alternate logos and a brandmark/submark. Each variation will be perfect for a different use so don’t go without these – your primary logo is your tree and your other logos are the branches, and what’s a tree without branches?!

Typography / Font-face /Typeface

The varying fonts that make up any branding, along with their hierarchy. Sounds simple right? Wrong! There’s a reason designers not only spend a huge amount of time selecting fonts but also a huge amount of money, the right fonts don’t come cheap!

Choosing the right fonts for your brand is no easy feat, it speaks volumes about the business, their tone and identity, many would argue it’s the most important part of any brand.

Typography hierarchies should be a minimum of two fonts, max three, containing a variety of different font spacing and weights to emphasise contrast between headings and body text, while still keeping the brand cohesive and not overwhelming.

Branding Terms


The overarching term for the combination of all of your branding elements. Visuals and visual identity, your voice, marketing, mission and vision – the whole lot. From the experience you provide and how you interact with customers, to the visuals of your company and how you present yourself, it’s the umbrella term.


The way you select, create and display the elements of your brand in a meaningful and relatable way. Through your branding you can bolster (or alter) your visual identity and therefore the connection you make with your target customers while offering your service or product. Consistency is key, your branding should always be in line with your brand.

Let’s say your business and brand is a yoga studio – your brand identity contains certain patterns, colours and logos, while your brand voice is a calming, open-armed approach with humility and grace. The culmination of these elements is your branding.

Brand Identity

Put simply, this is the visual representation of your brand – logos, icons, patterns, typography and colour palettes. It’s these initial visuals which will (or won’t) create a memorable and recognisable visual identity for your target audience, drawing them closer to a purchase through the connection they feel to your brand.

When you think of a brand off the top of your head, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, how many do you instantly recognise through the colours, typography and imagery without even needing to see the business name or logo? All of them – the hallmark of a strong brand identity.

Brand Guidelines/Standards/Manual

While it may come in varying names, the purpose and nature is always the same. This is essentially and written manual or guidebook for all the principles of a brand. The visuals (logos, patterns, fonts etc), target audience, mission and vision will all be outlined here. It’s a streamlined catalogue of a brand – almost like an encyclopedia you can pick up and learn all about them.

Brand guidelines are a wonderful document to have, being able to show potential clients, or new employees, what your brand is all about in a matter of minutes with absolutely no confusion is something you simple can’t put a price on.

Brand Voice

How your present your brand through words, voice and communication. For many businesses this is the toughest element of branding to crack, many try too hard to be something they aren’t and it will inevitably only end up driving customers away.

We have a fairly informal and relaxed way of talking about our business, because behind the work, that’s how we are! We want to create a feeling of comfort and warmth to our clients, with less of the jargon and confusing processes that put lots of small businesses off working with designers. If we were to suddenly switch our tone to overly formal, not only would we feel less approachable to our target audience, we’d create inconsistency in our brand and conflict our brand voice – not what anyone wants!


So, you’ve already got a brand and and identity – but perhaps it isn’t feeling like the home and vision you envisaged for your business when you started out. Maybe your logo isn’t as unique as you’d like, or your colour scheme is outdated, or perhaps your target audience has changed ever so slightly, leaving your visuals in need of a refresh, all of these are signs you’re ready for a rebrand.

At this point you’ll need to hire a brand designer to help fix your branding issues and really define your new online home. Struggling to know whether you need to rebrand? Our free workbook will help you figure out when it’s time to rebrand your business.

Branding and design terms can so often be intimidating and complicated, I hope these break-downs have helped clear some of the confusion and given you the confidence to take on your next branding or design project.

If you have any questions or need any other design terms explaining, I’d love to help, click here to get in touch!

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