What’s the Difference Between Graphic Design & Branding?

Many people confuse graphic design and branding. Learn the difference between the two!

Graphic Design
Graphic Design

Table of Contents

Graphic Design Subscription

One-stop for all your designs. Flat monthly price, unlimited requests and revisions.

Graphic design and branding are intrinsically intertwined. And we’re not just talking about a logo. Learn about the vital role of design in business branding, and the key differences between the two. 

As many as 75% of consumers associate brands with their logos. However, building a brand goes far beyond choosing a great logo color and design.

Learn the difference between graphic design and branding, and discover how designers can help you take your brand strategy to the next level.


What is business branding?

In simplest terms, business branding is how you express your company’s business identity and idea. It’s the image your company projects, and what people associate it with. 

Business branding is the message your company sends into the world. It’s the way your company is identified. 

To create a strong brand, you need to consider several elements, such as:

  • Mision, vision and values
  • A logo and name
  • Brand color scheme
  • A website
  • Marketing personas and messages

Brand identity and brand image

Now, people tend to use the terms brand identity and brand image interchangeably. While they are closely related, there are a few key differences.

Brand identity is your vision for your brand. Elements of a brand’s identity include the name and logo, as well as its mission, vision and values

Brand identity by Bruna Kater on Behance

On the other hand, brand image is howother people perceive your brand. It often includes the reputation you build through contact with your clients and other companies. Your brand image is what emotions your brand elicits in other people. Naturally, you should try and make these associations as positive as possible.

Graphic design and branding

Graphic design is the essential building block of business branding. Brand identity design includes a logo, color palette, typography, shapes and images, and all other design elements used to create the brand’s visuals. This is normally the scope of work of a graphic designer.

So where does branding stop for graphic design to take over? Here are the main differences between graphic design and branding.

Branding is the idea, design is the tool

Graphic design is what makes everything related to branding possible. Not only that, graphic design is what often sets the tone of the entire brand. Ideas are all well and good, but good customer experience depends on design.

Without design, branding is a bit like an elevator pitch. It might get some people hooked, but to move forward, it’s going to need something more tangible (e.g. a presentation for potential investors, or a business card to help clients get in touch).

Design is a subset of branding

In this day and age, people still confuse logo design with a brand. In reality design (and logo design) are merely subsets of company branding. Designing without an idea of a brand identity is as difficult as it is pointless.

The process of creating that all-important logo certainly is crucial, but there are other elements to a brand, as well.  Branding design consists of many elements, which should be compiled into a brand’s visual guide. You will need great visual solutions for all these elements. Although they are quite different in form, all of them must follow the same idea. They must look like one cohesive unit when you put them together.

You must make sure that things like fonts and color match the same kind of vibe you’re going for. For example, strong, aggressive fonts like Futura or Komet are difficult to combine with delicate pastels.

Aesthetic vs functionality

Design is applied art. Any design serves a specific function, as well as an aesthetic one. In the case of brand design, that function is multifaceted. Designing a brand is all-encompassing and if one element of branding isn’t up to snuff, the whole brand suffers.

Designs for a brand can be beautiful and purposeful. While branding begins with your ideas and preferences, design should always be user-centric.

Recognition vs communication

Design is a sprint, branding is a marathon. 

Graphic design is used to convey a specific message to a certain target audience. In contrast, branding is used to develop brand recognition and loyalty over time.

If you need a set of ads or social media posts, hiring a run-of-the-mill designer would be fine. But, if you want someone to help you change how people perceive your brand, a branding strategist is what you need.

Tips for creating a memorable visual identity

Good graphic design will make it easy for people to understand the messages you’re sending out to the world. Here are some brand identity tips to keep in mind.

Be consistent

As in many other things consistency is vital in branding. A brand is something that will be around for a long time. Once established, it can be difficult to pivot in a different direction.

That’s why you need to iron out all the details. If you add something later, it mustn’t look like an afterthought. It needs to follow the same general idea. It must be on-brand.

Take the new logo for Warner Bros for instance. The logo design debuted in 2019. and most people saw it as a downgrade. Gone was the classic golden shield and lettering, and it was replaced by flat colors which were underwhelming, to say the least. 

The proposed logo failed to convey the key messages associated with the brand: opulence, high-profile production, and excitement.

warner bros logos.png
Source: informator

Be clear

You don’t want any confusion surrounding your brand. Make sure your clients and customers can understand your message from the get-go.

Make sure to use such terms, language, and symbols that can be understood by most people. It’s best to do thorough research and check on any piece of branding you create.

Be concise

Long-winded explanations are boring and hard to follow. People’s attention spans are growing shorter by the year. So,  your brand’s message needs to be as succinct as possible.

Short and sweet is the way to go in business branding. A snappy tagline will do a world of good. People will remember it more easily and it will make your brand more recognizable.

Getting help from the pros

We hope this helps you understand the difference between branding and graphic design. Remember that design plays a vital role in communicating your brand’s messages out into the world. So,when it comes to branding design, hiring the pros is the best. 

Still, hiring a graphic designer can be pricey for a small business or startup. More importantly, when you consider how many visual elements are needed for branding your business from the ground up, you may think a single designer is never going to be enough

Luckily, an easy and affordable graphic design solution is right at your fingertips. ManyPixels is an unlimited graphic design service, which means we handle all your graphic design needs at a fixed monthly rate.

We’ve helped thousands of companies create their brand design and any subsequent graphics that help move their businesses forward. Discover more in our portfolio or schedule a 1:1 demo consultation for an opportunity to ask us any questions.

Or go right ahead and start your subscription!

I hold two degrees in history, and am currently working on a project of creating a digital library of Medieval manuscripts. I still like to have a foot in the 21st century though, so I write freelance about my other big passion, art and design. All Lord of the Rings references and puns I make are intentional.

How we can help

A design solution you will love


Fast & Reliable

Get your design back in 1-2 business days.

Fixed Monthly Rate

Unlimited requests & revisions, same price.

Flexible & Scalable

No contracts. Scale up or down as you go.

Pro Designers

Work with battle-tested professionals only.
Book a call

Get a taste of what we do!

Get inspired with some of ManyPixels best designs.
Download our portfolio to check them out!

Wait... there’s more!

Enjoyed the read? Subscribe to our mailing list for all the latest tips, how-tos and news on graphic design and marketing.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.