Graphic Design Glossary for Business Owners:
Boston Graphic Design Studio has created this glossary to explain common branding terms and elements. Knowing these terms will help you communicate effectively with designers.
Branding is the process of creating an identity for a company in the mind of a consumer. Branding is made up of a company's logo, visual design, mission, and tone of voice.
By building a website that describes what you offer, designing ads that promote your goods and services, selecting specific corporate colors that will be associated with your company, creating a logo, and featuring it across all your social media accounts, you are branding your company.
Brand Style Guide
A brand style guide is a digital rulebook that specifies every aspect of the look and feel of your brand and Logo. A brand style guide is used to communicate your brand properly and consistently across mediums both digital and print.
A brand style guide may usually include the following:
The tone of voice: how the brand uses language and emotion (including grammar, abbreviations, and acronyms)
Typography: font styles, sizes, and spacing
Logos: Primary logo, Secondary logo, Brand Mark, and icons
Color palette: primary and secondary colors
Other imagery: photos, illustrations, and artwork
Examples of acceptable use and unacceptable uses.
Brand identity is the visible elements of a brand, such as color, design, and logo, that identify and distinguish the brand in consumers' minds.
A brand mark is a symbol, element, art design, or visual image that helps immediately recognize a certain company. It is essential for developing and maintaining a brand's image. The Nike swoosh is a well-known and well-liked brand mark. The name of the brand is part of Nike's corporate logo, but the brand mark can stand on its own to represent the company visually.
Color codes are a way for computers to read, interpret, and display or print colors correctly. The most common color code formats include CMYK, HEX, PMS, and RGB.
The four basic colors used in printing are CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black). When printing full-color brochures, flyers, posters, and other print materials, designers most often use CMYK.
HEX: Designers use HEX colors in web design. HEX is a six-digital combination of numbers and letters that tells the computer exactly how to display the color.
PMS (Pantone Matching System): Designers and printers use the Pantone Matching System (PMS). Designers often use PMS codes when printing items in one or two colors only.
RGB: Designers use RGB for displaying colors on screens (i.e., RGB isn’t used for printing onto paper), including on computers, mobile devices, and TVs.
The color theory explains how humans perceive color and the visual effects of how colors mix, match, or contrast with each other. Using color theory, designers can determine which colors are most effective for conveying a message in a variety of languages, cultures, and learning styles. It also takes into account which colors will be the most easily readable by a wide range of viewers.
A creative brief is a document used to outline the strategy of a creative project. A creative brief contains project details, including the project's purpose, goals, requirements, messaging, demographics, and other key information.
To design for accessibility means to be inclusive of the needs of your users. This includes your target users, users outside of your target demographic, users with disabilities, and even users from different cultures and countries. Some common design accessibility standards include providing text alternatives for images, using strong color contrast between font color and background color, and avoiding images that are all text.
A design specification is a detailed document providing a list of points regarding a product or process. These specs could include required dimensions, resolution (quality), colors, and character styles. Design specs are important when designers work with websites, print formats or any other digital formats to fit the design into an already-built framework.
Designers must use the correct graphic or image file type for the intended purpose. Using the wrong file type could result in an image that looks blurry on a website, a graphic that doesn’t display properly in an email, or a brochure that prints poorly. Here are some key differences between popular file types.
AI: Adobe Illustrator design files, type of native file, contains vector images
EPS: Includes individual vector design elements that make up larger vector images
GIF: Animated images, pixel-based
INDD: Adobe InDesign design file, a type of native file
JPG: Used for quick design previews and web and print photos, pixel-based
PDF: Used for print files and web-based documents, contains vector images
PNG: Transparent images (i.e., no background), pixel-based
PSD: Adobe Photoshop design files, type of native file, pixel-based
SVG: Used for web publishing, contains vector images
TIFF: Used for high-quality printed graphics, pixel-based
Gradients are a popular design trend that gradually blends from one color to another color – and sometimes to additional color(s). The trend is popular today because gradients add depth to design, and can be bold or subtle and capture an audience’s attention.
Icons help businesses visually convey meaning to help audiences quickly understand a message. For example, companies often use icons throughout their websites to improve the user experience and help people easily understand the content communicated.
Mobile responsive means that the layout and content on your website respond to the size of the screen the person is using. So depending on which device you’re using, the website automatically adjusts to fit the space. Search engines like Google prefer sites to be mobile responsive so if your site is not mobile responsive, you’re probably getting penalized for it.
A native file is the original design file where a designer created a graphic or image, such as Photoshop (PSD) or InDesign (INDD), or Illustrator (AI). It typically includes design elements, such as layers and text styling, that people cannot edit in other software programs (like PowerPoint). Designers should always have access to native files in order to edit existing design assets.
Pixels are tiny colored squares that, together, form a picture. An image is a higher resolution when there are more pixels per inch.
I'd explain why I start most projects by asking my clients to fill out a questionnaire. It's designed to discover the important details that make up the big picture. It includes information about their business vision, and their personality, and digs deep into their ideal client. And it helps me design a logo, brand, and/or website that they love, and that helps convert visitors into clients. Without this questionnaire, I'd be designing in the dark!
Raster images use pixels. Raster images cannot scale up or down without losing quality in the way a vector image can. It gets pixelated quickly if you don't have a high-resolution image. Common file formats that use pixels are JPG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, and PSD. These file formats are all raster images.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. A very basic explanation is - how to make your site the most Google-friendly, to get found by the right people.
Here are a few things you can do to help your site show up in search engine results:
create quality content for real people
have a mobile-responsive site
add appropriate keywords in the back end of your website
create a google-my-business account
Typography is how companies choose to arrange and style letters and text to make it clear, visually appealing, and easy to read. Typography includes the various fonts, styles, and colors the business uses across all of its company-published communications. Designers, when discussing typography, will often talk about serif and sans-serif fonts. Serif fonts include small embellishments on each character (e.g., Times New Roman), while sans-serif fonts do not include these small embellishments (e.g., Arial).
User Experience (UX)
The user experience is how a user interacts with and experiences a product, system, or service. It includes a person's perceptions of utility, ease of use, and efficiency.
User Interface (UI)
A user interface is a space where interactions between humans and machines occur. UI is the interface (e.g., a web page or app) that a person uses to interact with a product or service. UI design often refers to graphics and visual elements used to create an appealing and easy-to-use interface (e.g., visual design, colors, graphic design, layouts, and typography).
Uniform Resource Locator. It's what you type/paste into the little bar at the top of your browser to go to a website. It's the web address of where the site lives.
Vector-based images are not made up of a specific number of dots, they can be scaled to a larger size and not lose any image quality. When you blow up a vector graphic, the edges of each object within the graphic stay smooth and clean. This makes vector graphics ideal for logos, which can be small enough to appear on a business card, but can also be scaled to fill a billboard. Common types of vector graphics include Adobe Illustrator, SVG, and EPS files.
Visual communication combines data visualization and graphic design to deliver information in a compelling way. It uses various visual elements to develop a story and uses multiple formats to reach audiences.