A branding designer shapes a brand and how it’s presented to the public. In order to breathe life into a brand and give it a tangible identity, a branding designer must express their thinking via words and imagery that cut through the noise and strike a chord with the public.
With more businesses than ever before competing for custom, branding remains the most important and vital way they can distinguish themselves from the pack. An effective brand message can spell the difference between a flash in the pan and a legacy name and it’s the brand designers that shape this message through various means.
Job description, Salaries and Benefits
A brand designer’s creativity really comes into play during the design stages or ‘sprints’ of client projects. This all falls under the direction of a senior designer. During this process, branding designers must collaborate with planners, account and project managers.
While they also work with third-party suppliers such as copywriters, photographers, illustrators and animators, branding designers are responsible for owning, shaping, developing and delivering work.
Daily tasks may include:
- Design or redesigning an identity for a product, service or organisation
- Create visual identities (logos, colours, fonts), print media, out-of-home-media, packaging, online campaigns, websites, applications and much more
- Developing ideas and strategies that show insight and innovation
- Researching clients and their commercial environment, objectives and the subjects at hand
- Contributing to pitches, new business and farming efforts
Salaries are dependent upon experience and can vary significantly across different agencies and industries. They vary between £15,000 and over £60,000 depending on seniority and experience.
A branding designer should have:
- Boundless creativity and endless curiosity
- The desire for a career that allows you to devise unique ideas and work hard to bring them to life
- The passion and determination to turn ideas and visualisations into finished products
- A natural talent for creative thinking
What is the work like?
Branding designer input is required for a wide variety of activities, including:
- Contributing to the brand strategies developed for client projects including ideas that demonstrate insight and innovation; solutions that engage audiences; and expressions of thinking in words or images
- Understanding the business case and/or client brief through research into the client and subject; understanding the client’s objectives and having an overview of the commercial content
- Implementing the creative execution during the design stages of client projects, under the direction of a Creative Director or Design Director
- Collaborating with other communities including planners, account and project managers, artists and third-party suppliers such as copywriters, photographers, illustrators and animators to make all projects a creative and commercial success
- Briefing and overseeing production while paying excellent attention to detail and to the client’s brand guidelines
- Being capable of taking responsibility for owning, shaping, developing and delivering creative projects
- Contributing to successful new business and farming efforts, as well as pitches
As a branding designer, you’ll work closely from a client brief, with a view to always satisfy their goals and objectives. The duties of a branding designer can vary widely from job to job and client to client. The basic objective of any branding designer is to identify the brand message then work on various marketing tools, such as logos, that convey the intended message. They may participate in website design or create social media content.
They may also create materials used for other purposes, such as product packaging. They may design product boxes or other forms of packaging so that they appeal to the intended customers. After a marketing campaign or strategy has been used they may also gather data to determine how successful it was.
Hours and environment
Branding designer jobs are typically around 40 hours a week, with a break for lunch. Agency life usually means that start and end times are flexible. Brand Designers would be expected to work extra hours as project deadlines approach. However, for freelancers, the flexible working hours allow for a work-life balance and hours that suit you.
Salary and other benefits
Salaries are dependent upon experience and can vary significantly across different agencies and industries. If in doubt, reference online salary guides. But in the meantime, here’s a rough guide on how much you can expect to earn at each level:
- Graduate Brand Designers: £15,000 to £20,000
- Junior Designers: £20,000 to £28,000
- Middle-weight Brand Designers: £25,000 to £35,000
- Senior Designers: £35,000 to £55,000
- Brand Directors: £60,000+
- Freelancers at mid-to-high levels can earn between £200 and £400 a day
Skills and Personal Qualities
Branding designers require a keen eye for outstanding visuals and an ability to turn creativity into practice. But, they’re far from the only requirements of the job. In order to excel in a career as a branding designer, you’ll also need the ability to:-
- Understand and solve design-orientated problems.
- Clearly visualise and understand target audiences and create materials that will appeal to them.
- Translate creative thinking into imagery and copy that retains and clearly expresses the initial ideas.
- Keep creative elements under control in order to deliver them on brief, on time and on budget, often to tight deadlines.
- Work comfortably both as part of a team and individually.
- Brief and collaborate with a wide variety of individuals, inside and outside of your own organisation, including professionals, clients and staff.
- Analytically assess marketing strategies and determine how effective they are.
- Possess adequate design skills to create logos and other visual marketing materials.
- Art and design
- The creative industries
- The latest trends in branding and design
There are apprenticeships in graphic design. The higher the level of the apprenticeship, the higher the graphic design role you can apply for. Agency internships provide the opportunity to work on ‘live’ projects and gain experience in creatively solving problems for clients. They also allow you to produce work across numerous sectors, platforms and formats; collaborate widely and build up your portfolio of work.
Entry for young people
The main route into this role is by taking a relevant honours degree. There are a few degree courses in branding design. Other relevant degree subjects include graphic design, graphic branding and identity, art and design, visual communication and graphic communication design.
Applicants for degree courses need a portfolio of design work, plus at least two A levels/three H grades and five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications. Most students complete a year's general foundation course in art and design before starting their degree course, to help develop their portfolio. This may not be necessary for applicants with a vocational qualification in art and design.
There are also postgraduate courses in branding which could provide a route in for people with degrees in graphic design or other design disciplines. An alternative route can be to join a design practice at a junior level, doing practical work such as logo design and branding - possibly taking a formal qualification later on.
Entry for Adults
Mature students are usually welcome on design courses. They may not need any formal qualifications if they have a good portfolio of work. Art and design Access courses are offered at a number of institutions. Some people enter branding design after gaining experience in another type of design work.
A degree or HND will provide you with a grounding in design, but it is recommended to gain work experience to grow your portfolio and design capabilities. Brand Designers start to gain work experience through internships at various agencies before finding a position – whether permanent or freelance. Internships provide the perfect opportunity to work on ‘live’ agency projects across a variety of formats, platforms and environments and helps to build a portfolio of work.
Although many employers focus more on experience and relevant skills when hiring brand designers, they would benefit from the range of skills typically developed through studies towards a bachelor's degree. This could be in anything from graphic design to visual communication, brand design, art and design or something more specific like graphic branding and identity. Studies in graphic design and marketing are an asset and those planning to pursue a career in this field should also take computer programming courses.
In branding designer job interviews, it’s always advantageous to have a portfolio of your work in digital and printed form, showcasing your capabilities and breadth of work to submit at both internship and job interviews. You should have this ready in both digital and print formats. That way, you’re ready to take the interviewer through them. Make sure that the contents showcase the breadth of your work and capabilities.
Book of Branding by Radim Malinic - Book of Branding is an essential addition to the startup toolkit—a guide designed for entrepreneurs, founders, designers, brand creators and anyone seeking to decode the complicated world of brand identity design. The conversational, jargon-free tone aims to help the reader understand the essential elements of the brand identity process.
Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler - Whether you're the project manager for your company's rebrand, or you need to educate your staff or your students about brand fundamentals, Designing Brand Identity is the quintessential resource. From research to brand strategy to design execution, launch, and governance, Designing Brand Identity is a compendium of tools for branding success and best practices for inspiration.
Branding in Five and a Half Steps by Michael Johnson - Johnson strips everyday brands down to their basic components, with case studies that enable us to understand why we select one product or service over another and allow us to comprehend how seemingly subtle influences can affect key life decisions.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al and Laura Ries - Smart and accessible, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding is the definitive text on branding, pairing anecdotes about some of the best brands in the world, like Rolex, Volvo, and Heineken, with the signature savvy of marketing gurus Al and Laura Ries.
Logo Design Love by David Airey - In Logo Design Love, Airey shows you how to develop an iconic brand identity from start to finish, using client case studies from renowned designers. In the process, he reveals how designers create effective briefs, generate ideas, charge for their work, and collaborate with clients.