July 23, 2013

Visual Branding 101: Terminology

Last month, we started a series of posts relating to branding terminology. Here’s the next installment in our series – this time, we’re defining visual branding terms we use most often.


Area of Isolation/Clearspace/Clearance Area

The required space around a logo to ensure proper readability and integrity



The part of lowercase letters (such as k, b and d) that ascends above the x-height of the other lowercase letters in a typeface



The imaginary line on which characters in a typeface rest



Full ink coverage extending beyond the edge of the paper


Brand Identity

A brand identity is made up of one or more of these elements: brand name, typeface (logotype), color or graphic (logo)


Brand Elements

Brand elements are used to express and differentiate the brand. The brand name, logo, tagline, packaging and tone of voice are all examples of brand elements.


Cap Height

The height from the baseline to the top of the uppercase letters in a font. This may or may not be the same as the height of ascenders. Cap height is used in some systems to measure the type size.



The abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and black, which are the inks used in process printing. They represent the subtractive color model, where a combination of 100% of each component yields black and 0% of each yields white. Also referred to as four-color process.


Color Palette

A set of approved colors used throughout communications. This applies to color fields and type, not to photographic imagery.


Condensed Type

A typeface with a narrow, elongated appearance



The arrangement of graphic elements. The size and position relationships of elements within an approved logo configuration are fixed, and must not be altered.



The degree of difference between light and dark areas in an image



To trim outer portions of a photograph or illustration in order to focus on one portion of the image


Custom Type/Hand-Drawn Type

Describes text elements within a logo or design concept that have been created by hand or customized to have a distinct style


Logotype/Type Treatment

A designed word, and/or mark, not available in type. It’s always used as a complete unit and never altered in any form. The Coca-Cola logo is a logotype.



The use of one color or shades of that color


Offset Lithography

A widely used printing method where the inked image is transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface


Pantone Matching System®

The worldwide color language for the selection, specification, communication and control of color



Measurement commonly used in printing; approximately 72 points equal one inch



A term used to describe the appearance of a logotype, a mark or copy when it appears in a dark color on a light background



An internationally accepted color system used primarily for describing paint colors and coatings



A term opposite in meaning to “positive,” where the logotype, mark or copy appears light against a dark background



The quality of an image based on the amount of pixel detail on screen and when printed (high resolution – 300 dpi; low resolution – 72 dpi)



Red, green and blue; the primary colors mixed to display the color of pixels on a computer monitor. Every color of emitted light can be created by combining these three colors in varying levels.


Sans Serif

A letter or typeface with no small projecting features, called serifs, at the end of the strokes. Arial is a sans serif typeface.


Separate Icon

A design element within a logo that can be pulled away from the type and used alone in certain applications; the Apple logo is a separate icon.



A short counterstroke stemming from a letterform’s main stroke; Times New Roman is a serif typeface.


Trim Marks

A guide for trimming the sheet during finishing or as register marks during printing



A specific set of characters, numbers, punctuation and symbols having the same design and weight. A typeface family would include all the various weights and styles available for a particular design.



The process of converting text into a recognized font and producing it in a form suitable for printing



The method of displaying text; it covers font styles, sizes and colors


Visual Branding

Any design element or communication piece that relates to branding companies, products, services, technologies, places and experiences including but not limited to: logos, stationery, marketing materials, packaging, website design, brand standards, imagery and typography


And last, but not least…



The text within a logo design that may or may not be customized


So, that’s today’s vocabulary class. Hopefully, this has cleared up some of the nuances of visual branding terminology. We’ll continue these types of posts with each of our departments in the coming months!


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