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Design Dictionary

Ready to put these words into action for your brand?


A brand is a collection of concepts, ideas, and emotions that encapsulate your company’s values and ethos. A brand is a mix of all the fine conceptual details that make up the company — from the content the brand promotes to, the way employees talk, the words they use, and the values they embody.


Brand (or visual) identity refers to the visual representation of your brand that communicates the values, content, and ethos of the company. It can include things like a logo, business cards, letterhead, uniforms, packaging design, and more.



Brand identity guidelines are a written manual that explains how a brand should be used internally and externally. They include everything from how the logo should look, the color codes for web and print, to the fonts and how they should be used. Imagine if the McDonald’s logo looked completely different everywhere you saw it. There would be no way of making the instant connection in consumers’ minds between the logo and the brand promise.


Branding is the process of creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers‘ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme.


CMYK, or "Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black", is a color model that is used for print purposes. CMYK is a subtractive color, this means that we begin with white and end up with black. So, as we add more color, the resulting image becomes darker.


The specific colors that you select to use in your design.


Color theory is the study of how colors make people feel and respond. Each color tends to evoke certain types of  subconscious emotions and feelings in people. For example, we tend to associate blue with trust and dependability, which is why so many corporate businesses have blue logos and branding.


When it comes to design, concepts refer to ideas about the combination of colors, layouts, graphics, and fonts that could be used in the design. 


Contrast refers to the degree of difference between two juxtaposed elements. Some common types of contrast are dark vs. light, thick vs. thin, and rough vs. smooth.


A font is a complete combination of characters created in a specific type, style, and size. The set of characters in a font includes the letter set, the number set, and all of the special characters and marks you get when pressing the shift key or other command keys on your keyboard.


Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic.


An icon is a graphic symbol that represents something.


Legibility refers to the level of ease with which one can distinguish one letter from the next. Legibility is heavily impacted by your choice of typeface and how you use it. For instance, simpler serif or sans serif typefaces are generally more legible choices for smaller body copy.


A logo is a symbol or other designed element adopted by an organization to identify its products, uniform, vehicles, business location, and other materials to consumers.


A logotype is a kind of logo in which the name of the company designed in a visual way. Brands like Google, Ikea, and Disney have logotypes.


A mockup is a recreation of the original printed material for review purposes. It could possibly contain instructions or directions for how to view, fold, or assemble.


PMS, or "Pantone Matching System" is a standardized system of colors for printing. Every Pantone shade is numbered, making it much easier for people to reference and identify exact shades of color.


Print materials include, but are not limited to, the design of business cards, letterhead, brochures, posters, and packaging.


Raster images (sometimes referred to as "bitmap images") are made up of thousands of pixels that determine color and form. Photos are raster images. Photoshop is the most common raster editor, enabling you to manipulate the color and other properties of the pixels.


Resolution refers to the amount of detail an image has. Generally speaking, the higher your resolution, the better your images appear, and the more detail is rendered. Whereas lower resolution images or graphic tend to appear blurry, pixelated, or muddy.


RGB, or "Red, Green, Blue" is a color model that is used for on-screen purposes. RGB uses additive color, meaning that when mixing colors, we start with black and end up with white as more color is added.


Sans serif refers to a typeface without the small decorative serif strokes (or "feet"). Sans serifs tend to look more modern, stylish, and cleaner than their serif counterparts.


SEO, or "Search Engine Optimization," is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.


Serif refers to a typeface with small decorative strokes (called "serifs" or "feet" since they look like little feet) found at the end of horizontal and vertical lines. Serif typefaces tend to look professional, authoritative, and traditional in appearance.


A stock photo is a professionally shot photograph available online for licensing. Stock photos are usually used in lieu of hiring a photographer, or if a designer cannot access the images they need from their own inventory of photographs.


Typography is the artistic arrangement of type in a readable and visually appealing way. Designers combine various typefaces in a way that helps to better visually communicate ideas.


Vector-based images (such as those created in Adobe Illustrator) are made up of points, each of which has a defined X and Y coordinate. These points join paths to form shapes, inside of which you can add color. Because of the way they are created, vector-based images can be expanded to any size without compromising image quality. 


White space, also called "negative space", refers to the areas of a design that are not filled with content. White space is an important design element as it helps to let a design "breathe", and maintain a clean, simple, uncluttered look.

Definitions from multiple sources including:, Google Dictionary,,, and

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