What do design terms actually mean? As graphic designers, we constantly throw around design terms in the studio as they are very important in what we do. The world of design is full of technical jargon and sometimes can seem like it is its own language. Working with this slang daily means that sometimes us designers might forget that our clients might not understand certain terminology. That’s why we put together this glossary of creative industry words and terms to help you understand them better when contacting a creative agency. However, if you are chatting to us and don’t understand what we mean just let us know and we will be happy to talk you through it!

Logo or logo mark

Commonly mistaken for branding, your logo mark can be either a symbol or text design (or even a combination of both) and is typically the mark users will recognise your business from. This usually is an identifier for your company and often is displayed alongside a logotype. However, sometimes it won’t even include your brand name.


A logotype is a logo that is formed only of the name of the company displayed visually. Our Martin Hopkins logotype is an example of this.

Slogan or tagline

Often used to back up your branding to recur what it is you do or offer. A good slogan will be memorable in your brand advertising and will be short and simple. For example, Lidl’s new slogan is “Big on quality, Lidl on price” and Asda’s is “Everyday low prices”.

Brand or branding

This is commonly confused with a logo or naming of a company. A brand is you’re whole offering and ethos, and is typically how your name and logo affects your customers both emotionally and physically. We have spoken about what really makes a brand if you would like to find out more about branding and how it can help your business grow.

Brand positioning

This is basically where your brand sits within its sector on the market. For example, Lidl is seen by consumers as high quality for a low price, Coca-Cola is seen as high quality (and not so low price) above it’s competitors.

Brand equity or value

How much is your brand worth? Both in finance terms and ultimate value to your company. It is the commercial value that comes from your consumer’s opinion or perception of your brand, rather than the actual services or products you offer. This is why branding is so vital to any business. It is where customers choose your company over others simply because of the brand you attach to it. This will increase consumer use of your products or services. Are your customers loyal to your brand?

Challenger brand

This is a company brand that is not the leader in its sector, but is rather offering a strong competition for those already well established in its industry. A challenger brand will show growth in an already popular sector, despite not being a dominant leader in the industry.

Differentiation or USP (Unique Selling Points)

What is unique about your company that makes it more desirable than others in your sector? This is important during the branding stages of any business as it helps to develop your brands core message and meaning in the market.


This is basically anytime, no matter where or how, a user comes into contact with or interacts with your company’s brand. This could be on a website, on social media, by referral, through app design or marketing campaigns. There is a vast spectrum of touchpoints and it is important to maintain brand messaging across them all. You can also utilise these touchpoints to generate customer loyalty and more repeat business.

Copy, copywriting or body copy

Copy is basically the written material (rather than photographs or other elements in a layout) used on branded marketing content. Copywriting is the art of writing this content to a high standard for the purpose of advertising or other types of marketing. It aims to increase brand awareness and help consumers to understand what it is that you and to persuade them to take specific action using your brand.

Marketing or marketing design

Marketing is the promotion of your business. It will often include an array of market research to discover what consumers need and want. Then targeted advertising design will be produced to sell your product or service.

Tone of voice

The tone of voice of your brand is the way in which you communicate with your audience. Is your language and approach soft and friendly or is it strong and blunt? Your brand’s tone of voice is just as important as the words you are using but it is how you put them together in a designed layout.


This is the essential order in which consumers would read your content. Adding in a typographical or content hierarchy allows for you to influence the way in which your readers eye follows the information. This is essential and is usually done using alternate fonts or weights, font sizes and colours.

Legibility or legible typeface/font

Legibility is quite simply how well something reads. If you choose a font that is not legible, it will be much more difficult to read. A clear simple typeface will be much more readable than one that is less legible. It is a good measure of how easily you can decipher one letter from another and can have a lot to do with the typeface you choose. The size and weight of the typeface can matter too. It has been found that larger typefaces are not necessarily easier to read.

Font weight

This is essentially how ‘heavy’ a font is i.e. light, regular, bold etc. This is easily seen by eye and most commercial typefaces have various weights suitable for different content. You will see that the heavier in weight a font is, the more space it takes up. This can sometimes cause different words to fall on different lines. This can sometimes create widows.

Orphans and widows

Taken from the name, orphans or widows are words or short lines of text that appear on their own at the top or bottom of body copy content. Its best practice to remove these from any text you might have in a branded document (at Martin Hopkins we have a particular OCD about these!).

Colour palette

A colour palette is the selection of colours that you and your designer choose for your design. The making of a good colour palette must include colours which compliment each other and do not clash or look unsightly.

Monochrome colour scheme

A monochrome colour scheme is one that is built from various shades of one colour. This means it will include lighter and darker variations of one colour.

Complementary colour scheme

Complementary colour schemes are ones which use colours on the opposite end of the colour wheel and as such go very well together.


The percentage of transparency an element has. The higher the opacity, the more solid the colour. The lower the opacity, the more transparent it becomes. Because it is a percentage, opacity can be any number from 0-100.


How much detail an image has which is measured by the amount of pixels (ppi) or dots (dpi). Generally, the higher the resolution the better the image quality. Low resolution images tend to look very pixilated and lose a lot of colour detail.


The size of an item or object whilst keeping the proportions and shape in tact. This is typically a percentage of it’s original size. For example, if you were to scale something up to 150%, it would be 50% larger than its original size.

White space or negative space

This is the area of a layout design that does not contain content. Negative or white space can be just as important as the content around it. It helps designs to breathe and allows for simple, clean designs that are usually much more effective than a crowded one.

Lorem Ipsum, dummy copy or filler text

This is generic text that is used only when the real copywritten material is not available yet. This placeholder text is used to give an example of how a design layout may look, despite not having all of the content yet.


The is the different kinds of ways to line up content or written text to create a balanced layout. The most common of these is left, right, centre and justified alignment. There are specific times you would utilise each of these for different purposes in layouts. Choosing the correct alignment could help you achieve more order to your design to allow for a logical hierarchy.

Heading or sub-heading

These are titles used in a layout or section of a brochure or book design. These can sometimes be called captions or headlines.


This is the process of arranging and laying in the text that is to be added to a design layout.

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As you can see, at Martin Hopkins Design we’re full of design knowledge. We specialise in all manner of design, from websites to bilingual brochures. Think we can help your business?

Call us today on 029 2046 1233 or email [email protected].

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