There’s no denying the importance of strong branding for a B2B business. It can help your company stand out from competitors, build trust with your target audience, and even boost your bottom line: B2B businesses with a strong brand outperform weak ones by 20%.
Yet do you know the difference between branding and graphic design? Don’t worry if the answer is ‘no’ as we’ve put together a handy guide to what they are, how they’re different, and how they work together to benefit and strengthen your overall business.
What is graphic design?
Graphic design is a hugely important part of the branding process. The key word in that last sentence is ‘part’. It is a piece of the overall brand jigsaw puzzle that is needed to complete the bigger picture.
Think of graphic design as a brand’s visual identity – in other words, it is the process of creating visual aids that express what your brand looks like. This can include everything from a logo and the colour palette to typography and the use of imagery.
Ensuring your brand has a consistent visual identity across all channels is an essential part of the graphic design process. The graphic design team is responsible for all of the visual components that are used to promote your business.
These visual components aren’t created in a vacuum, of course. This is where graphic and branding intersect. Whether it’s the logo, web banners, or marketing collateral, the graphic design is created in line with a company’s brand guidelines.
We’ll go into more detail about that shortly, but let’s end with a quote from graphic designer Paul Rand, who created the logos for the likes of IBM and UPS: “A logo derives its meaning from the quality of what it symbolises, not the other way around.”
What is branding?
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos described a brand as “what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
That’s because branding goes beyond the visual and represents the essence of a brand. Branding represents the whole picture, including your business’s identity, personality, mission, and values. It’s the embodiment of what makes your brand unique and attractive to your target audience.
That’s why it’s vital for a business to have a set of brand guidelines, which is essentially an instruction manual that details the rules for all communications about your company. This goes beyond the visual, it encompasses the tone of voice and messaging. Brand guidelines help ensure everything is consistently produced through the prism of the brand.
Branding provides the meaning or strategy behind the visuals – the things that set you apart from your competitors. As entrepreneur Seth Godin said, brand is “a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Branding & graphic design – the perfect pairing
Branding and graphic design are separate but overlapping parts of any successful B2B marketing strategy. You need both to create a consistently recognisable brand that truly represents your vision and personality.
In conclusion, graphic design feeds your brand and your brand feeds your B2B business. To remove one element from the mix would result in a weaker brand.