What is Branding in Design?

Designers lay the foundation for a successful brand, but they don't do it alone. A brand's reputation is dictated by every choice that a company makes, from their business practices to their social media presence. So, what is branding in design terms? Essentially, it's the visual and aural presentation, storytelling, and marketing that makes a company special. Below, we've outlined a few design attributes shared by some of the world's biggest brands, and explained the distinction between branding and design.    

What is brand identity?

If you take every visual aspect of a brand in aggregate, you end up with the brand identity. It includes basic design decisions — such as the color palette and font that you want to associate with your company — and more complex ones, like the logo and actual product designs. These all shape the brand identity, so that when a customer sees your logo, they have defined expectations about what the brand stands for. 

How does a logo affect your brand?

At its most simplistic, a logo is a unique symbol that helps customers identify a company at a glance. You see the Nike swoosh on a pair of shoes, and you instantly know what company is associated with it. 

Beyond identification, though, logos carry the reputation, emotional weight, and caché tied to a particular brand. It helps the Nike swoosh symbolizes speed, but when most consumers look at a pair of Nikes, they're thinking about the hundreds of big-budget commercials they've seen, and the pro athletes that wear those shoes on the court. Good logo design is crucial, but it ultimately serves as a trigger for all of those other brand encounters.    

What's the difference between branding and design? 

At the end of the day, quality design is what sets the best brands apart, but this design is just a complement to the company's core values. People love Apple because they have a history of creating innovative products. They also look really cool, but if those products didn't perform as well as they looked, the brand's reputation would definitely take a hit. 

Design cues and marketing materials takes a brand to the next level, but this is founded on a superlative product. To build a lasting brand, you need an amazing product and mission statement, which you can embody in every design decision, from the logo to the Super Bowl spot. 

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