Design vs. Brand


The ancient Egyptians were thought to have originated the practice of ‘brand’ and ‘branding’. From as early as 2700BC livestock branding was used to distinguish between cattle by using distinctive markings. It stopped animals from being stolen and ultimately provided a unique, ownable and recognisable visual language.

The word ‘brand’ now means something much more than just being instantly recognisable.

Your brand is now the way in which you (your company, business or product) is perceived by its audience. To put it another way, we can judge a brand in the same way we can a person. We naturally tend to gravitate towards people who are most like ourselves; Do they look like my kind of person? Do I agree with their opinions? Do I like what they stand for? Do I want to see them more often?

A brand helps consumers answer these same kinds of questions about business. Visually, do they appeal to me and do they look like my kind of product/business? Do their thoughts and opinions align with my own? Do I agree and believe in what they stand for? Am I happy to be associated with them?

Your brand is the perception of your business within the hearts and minds of your audiences. And without having an understanding of your brand, you have no way of communicating to your audience effectively.

So, how does this relate to design?

Design is so much more than colour or pattern. Technically, the word design can be used to describe the way in which something (be that a tangible object or a digital one) is planned and made. Design is thoughts, sketches and snippets of ideas. It is innovation and experimentation. Design answers problems that needs solving. Everything you see and use has been designed in one way or another.

Brand design tends to be built upon ideas and findings from your brand strategy. Talk to any agency and they will say that design decisions should always stem from the core of who you are, what you do and why you do it. It’s fundamental to any brand or rebrand project. Design that puts the heart of the business at the forefront will ultimately feel more aligned, genuine and engaging to its audience. Businesses that value design will reap the rewards.

It’s been proven that design can add value to organisations [1], it can transform outdated business models [2] and positively impacts the wider economy [3]. Brands and businesses that don’t value design underperform in all areas of the market when compared to businesses that do. Therefore, it’s so important to see design as an investment as opposed to an outgoing, especially when it comes to your brand.


[1] Design Council, The Value of Design Factfinder Report 2007

[2] Design Council, Leading Business by Design Report, 2013: Barclays Case Study

[3] Design Council, The Design Economy Report 2018