Lately it seems like everyone is adding Branding to their resume or list of services. More specifically, I’ve seen numerous graphic designers and web designers/developers adding Branding to their offerings. I think its great that there are so many out there now offering these services, because it gives plenty of options to choose from for those in the market for branding services. I do, however think many may not understand the roles of a Brand Designer and a Graphic Designer, and that there is a huge difference in the two. Today I’m breaking the roles down, in hopes that it will provide those in need of branding services with a little more insight into what these two individuals do and what they can do for you in terms of branding.
Its important to understand that a Graphic Designer and Brand Designer serve two completely different purposes in terms of branding. A graphic designer, by definition is a “profession within the graphic design and graphic arts industry who assembles together images, typography, or motion graphics to create a piece of design. A graphic designer creates the graphics primarily for published, printed or electronic media, such as brochures (sometimes) and advertising.” (Wikipedia) While a Brand Designer is someone hired to assist in the assessing and defining of a brand. In essence, they take a company’s mission, purpose, and goals and insure that its translated into the copy and visual aspects of a brand. With that being said, a graphic designer and brand designer are not one in the same and that needs to be clearly understood when you look to what your branding needs are.
[Tweet ” A Graphic Designer and Brand Designer serve two completely different purposes in terms of branding.”]
The Role of a Brand Designer
If you need help defining your brand, you most likely want to hire a brand designer. This person should have expertise on the topic of branding and copy, and understand design in a way they can relay it effectively to all components of your brand. However, it important to note that this individual may not be a designer. The main purpose of their job is to help to assess your brand and create an image for it. They need to be able to define it in a way that resonates and appeals to your target customer. They will insure that your mission and goals are present throughout all parts of your brand. Elements that they will either help define or influence are your company’s name, tagline, mission, and core beliefs.
[Tweet “If you need help defining your brand, you most likely want to hire a brand designer.”]
[Tweet “Brand Designers will either help define or influence are your company’s name, tagline, mission, and core beliefs.”]
The Role of a Graphic Designer
A graphic designer is the individual who will actually create the visual aspects of your brand, to include but not limited to your logo, marks, colors, and typography. Graphics designers should be able to take the work of a brand designer and translate it into your visual aspects, if they have done their job well. So a graphic designer doesn’t need to be a brand designer, and vice versa, although if you come across one you’ve hit the jackpot. Its just important to know that not everyone who classifies themselves a graphic designer is a brand designer. This is especially true when you look at many of the jobs within the Design arena. The same can be said for a graphic designer and web designer, but that’s a whole other post. A lot of people get those two confused as well, using the terms interchangeably many times. I think that’s where a lot of the confusion comes into play, because so many people have ended up using the terms incorrectly, by using them interchangeably. Due to this incorrect use, many may think that they are hiring someone to doing branding when they are actually just hiring someone to create a logo for them.
[Tweet “A graphic designer is the individual who will actually create the visual aspects of your brand”]
The Difference Between the Logo, the Brand, & the Rebrand
Logo creation is a huge part of branding, but it alone is not the brand. You need to first define the brand to create a logo for it, and long before to pick colors and typography for it. At times all someone may need is a new new logo, or a slight refresh to the visual aspects of their brand, but that is not rebranding, its simply updating the visual aspects. A rebrand would be the redefining of the purpose for the brand and what it stands for. If you are creating a new mission for your brand or the reason that your brand exists has changed, then you would need to do a rebrand. The same can be said for getting new web design, in that a new web design doesn’t change the mission and purpose of your brand. It may change the overall feel, which is why it would be wise to consult a brand designer prior changing your web design. They would be able to help assess as to whether the new web design fits your brand’s message and if it will appeal to your target customer. Additionally, they would be able to offer you guidance on the appropriate areas of your site to place copy. Copy is so important, because it is the language that will be speaking to your customers when they visit your site or see any advertisement you may have. Not having copy placed correctly can have a huge impact on how your brand is perceived and its success.
[Tweet “Logo creation is a huge part of branding, but it alone is not the brand.”]
It May Take a Village
The creation of a brand may require the assistance of many individuals, to include a brand designer, graphic designer, and copywriter. At times, it may be more beneficial for you to invest in all three or work with a firm or agency that can do all three for you simultaneously. The main thing that you don’t want to do is assume that are all one in the same. If you do, the end result for your brand may not be what you want it to be and it may not serve you or your customers. In this case, you will find yourself in need of a rebrand fairly soon and having just wasted money that you could have other wise saved or invested in your business. Insure that when you purchase branding services, you inquire as to what those services actually entail. Do your due diligence in researching the individual or agency providing those services. You want to make sure they have not only the skillset to create your brand’s visual elements, but the education to translate your mission throughout it.
[Tweet “The creation of a brand may require the assistance of many individuals, to include a brand designer, graphic designer, and copywriter.”]
Looking at The Two Roles Respectively
Here are a few things to keep in mind when determining if you need branding or graphic design services, as well as what you should look for in these individuals respectively.
You need to hire a Brand Designer if you:
- Need to assess and define your brand
- Translate your mission and goals into your brand
- Find out who your target customer is and how to appeal to them
- Provide feedback on what you offer and/or suggestions for what to offer within your product line or services.
- Give you insight into how and where you can best use copy to market your brand.
This individual should have:
- Expertise in at least one of the following: branding, marketing, PR, or business.
- Provided a way to show you about their education on the topic of branding. – Do they have a blog where they have shown that they have in depth insight about branding? Have they produced literature or resources on the subject of branding? Are they able to show you a broken down and in depth process for branding and how they would/have done it for clients?
- Knowledge of your industry and the trends and current happenings in it.
You need to hire a Graphic Designer if you:
- Need visual elements of your brand created. – This includes your logo, marks, colors, and typography.
- Need collateral branding . – Your business card, stationery, flyers, and any other physical or virtual tool that you may use for marketing.
- Need graphics for your website or social media platforms.
This individual should have:
- A degree, experience, and profound education in the field of Graphic Design.
- A portfolio of work to show their design aesthetic – This can be personal work or work they’ve done for clients.
- An ability to take an idea or concept and translate it into something visual effectively.
- Knowledge of current design trends and ability to decipher if and how to incorporate them into a design for you.
Branding is a promise to your customer and simply put a graphic designer can not help you define that. However, what they can do is provide you with visual aspects to integrate into your brand to help communicate that promise. As I mentioned before, there is a hybrid version of a brand designer and graphic designer, and these individuals are typically referred to as Brand Identity Designers or Brand Identity Stylists. In the interest of staying on topic, I will go into more detail about their role more specifically in an upcoming post.
I hope this post has helped you define the roles of graphic designer and brand designer in terms of branding. Knowing their roles and how they relate to branding will most definitely allow you to make a more well informed decision as to what you actually need for your brand and business. At the end of the day, the goal is to have your brand’s message accurately and effectively conveyed to your current and prospective customers. By making a well informed decision in regards to your branding, you can rest assure that your money and time won’t be going to waste.
[Tweet “Knowing the roles of graphic designer and brand designer will allow you to make a more well informed decision as to what you actually need for your brand and business.”]