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  Brand Designer vs Brand Identity Designer

Ottawa Logo Design – How to Choose a Logo Designer

Post 1 – Surely 'Brand Design' includes 'Logo Design'?

Why do you distinguish between 'logo design' and 'brand design'? Surely brand design includes logo design? A brand may not require a logo to be designed and so you might design other brand identity elements and in this sense 'design' a brand. But, why exclude logo design from brand design if when you design a logo you're not also designing the brand? And, then further to this, what is the difference between a brand designer and a brand identity designer?

Post 2 (Censored by Steve Zelle)

Not quite the answer I was expecting, according to your own writing. Surely, by your reasoning, the logo is only the signifier of the brand and therefore you've made a case for designing a logo exclusively. This would be consistent with your portfolio and career history.

I suspect that you're also likely to confuse your clients if you pander to their expectations. What you've written in response to me comes across as patronising to your clients. This is likely to be the case particularly if any of them read your response. If I'm confused about your offering chances are they will be too.

This still leaves the matter of the difference between a 'brand designer' and 'brand identity designer'. You seem to use logo designer, identity designer, brand identity designer and brand designer interchangeably on the same level.

It seems to me that you haven't sorted these issues out in your own brand. If your own brand isn't properly thought through how do you expect to earn the trust of potential clients to help sort their brands out?

Post 3 – Censoring my posts

That's an astute question David. It seems that Steve let's other people (such as your good self) do a lot of work for him. And, this won't be the first time as far as I can tell.

It's also a loaded question I asked in various places to which Steve chooses not to respond. That you have been able to get through Steve's filters with your post confirms for me that I have had a 'red pen' put through mine. Various right wing propaganda machines throughout history spring to mind.

Steve you're asking for trouble by censoring my posts. If you don't publish this as well as my previous post and then engage me as a mature professional you'll be doing your reputation damage.

Post 4 – Design is made up of two activities

A Brand Identity Designer, at least a good one, should do much more than design a 'graphical system'.

A brand identity is made up of much more than a visual experience. This is why it's particularly useful to think of a brand in terms of marks. A rich brand identity covers the whole spectrum of marks that make up a brand experience. These marks fit into three major categories: physical material, language and gesture.

A Brand Identity Designer only really 'designs' when giving form to material things such as a 'graphical system', but he/she should also be expected to generate content and configure the non-visual marks to carry the generated content into a distinct experience. This is why it's useful to understand design as made up of two types of activity: form-giving and configuration.

'Form-giving' is the strongest definition of the two activities and it is the one designers tend to focus on at the expense of the other. Focusing on form-giving alone ensures that the contributions made by these types of designers to brand identity projects are relatively insubstantial. Design in the literal form-giving sense is not sufficient nowadays and it's the equivalent to being a graphic stylist. This is also why designers who focus on form-giving often find themselves powerless when designers adept at generating brand content or creative brand strategists are involved.

The 'configuration' of brand-marks also qualifies as design but it is by far the weaker definition and you don't necessarily need to be a designer to configure non-material brand-marks. These non-material brand-marks are typically, but not limited to, brand-ideas, brandlines, writing style, market positioning, elements of the product or service, customer experience etc...

It is for these reasons that it is with great reluctance that I call myself a designer. I'd prefer Brand Identity Creative but this is too nebulous for the industry. People have enough difficulty getting their heads around 'brand', 'identity' and 'design'.

Post 5 – I invented 'Brand Identity Designer'

You might also be interested to know that I invented the role description 'Brand Identity Designer' around 2000/1. Originally I defined myself as a 'Corporate Brand Identity Designer' but in 2003 I shortened it because the context of the work demonstrates whether the brand is business or consumer-facing. Also, the shortened version avoids the difficulties associated with 'Corporate', particularly in the old-fashioned 'Corporate Identity' sense.

Most designers using the 'Brand Identity Designer' description assume it's in common usage and up for grabs. I've watched its use grow organically from what is defensibly my area of influence. Recently, other designers, particularly in the UK, have tried to get 'Brand Designer' off the ground but to David's point it's not surprising that they're having difficulty. I have strong views on both descriptions and this is why I challenged your use of them, especially because you use them to reposition your own brand.


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