There is more that goes into branding than a business name and a logo; many companies will hire a brand designer to take care of every aspect of their branding. Brand designers have the knowledge and expertise to cultivate a consistent and well-thought-out brand identity for any business in order to appeal to a target audience.
With the demand for a good user experience becoming more and more crucial for business success, brand designers are highly sought-after professionals, especially in the freelance space. In this article, we will discuss what brand designers do and how to become a brand designer as a freelancer or contractor.
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What is a Brand Designer?
A brand designer is a professional who specializes in creating and developing the visual identity and branding elements for a company, product, or organization. They work to establish a consistent and cohesive brand image that effectively communicates the values, personality, and message of the brand to its target audience.
More often than not, a company or employer will provide the brand designer with a detailed brief, with information on their vision, their goals, and their values. Brand designers generally work alongside a team of copywriters, graphic designers, UX designers, and marketing managers to complete the project. The team will then collaborate with one another to create a unified and cohesive brand identity that aligns with the business’s values and goals.
Brand designers may be confused for graphic designers, and while some of their responsibilities may overlap, there are key differences between the two. The major difference between a brand designer and a graphic designer is that the former focuses on developing a cohesive visual identity for a business, while the latter is responsible for creating visuals for communication reasons.
The main responsibilities of brand designers include:
- Helping to develop brand strategies
- Conducting market research & analysis
- Designing logos
- Creating branded content
- Designing product packaging
- Supplying visuals for advertisements
- Creating website & social media graphics
- Deciding on typography & color usage
- Creating a unified brand experience
How to Become a Freelance Brand Designer
A 2017 report by LucidPress discovered that having consistent design across all platforms that your brand appears in can increase both revenue and brand recognition. This is what makes brand designers so important in today’s digital world; businesses no longer have the option of inconsistent or poorly-designed visuals on their websites, packaging, and advertisements.
Furthermore, research from QuickSprout surmised that the majority of users would stop interacting with websites if they were not visually appealing. Poor design elements contribute to a negative user experience, which is highly detrimental to brands. If you are interested in cultivating a good brand experience through visual content, below we will take a look at how to become a freelance brand designer.
While it is not essential, it can be highly advantageous to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design, marketing, visual communications, or art and design. It is also advisable to take courses or complete internships to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to become a brand designer.
There are many competencies that aspiring freelance brand designers can benefit from developing, from technical expertise to essential soft skills. Below are some crucial things that every brand designer should know, and that aspiring designers should strive to learn more about in order to successfully become a brand designer as a freelancer:
- Consumer behavior & psychology
- Graphic design
- Branding principles
- Color theory & composition
- Market research & analysis
Create a portfolio that showcases your brand design skills on platforms like Dribbble or Behance. Include a variety of projects that demonstrate your ability to create visual identities, brand guidelines, packaging designs, and other brand collateral. Showcase your understanding of brand strategy and your ability to translate it into impactful design solutions. If you have no prior experience in the field, create personal projects to showcase your abilities to potential clients.
Search for opportunities to work on real-world branding projects. These could include internships, freelance work, apprenticeships, or collaborating with startups or non-profit organizations. Practical experience will allow you to apply your design skills in a professional setting and understand the intricacies of brand design.
Equipment & Software
Brand designers typically require a combination of equipment and software to create and develop their designs effectively. Here is a list of commonly used equipment and software for brand designers:
Computer: A reliable computer or laptop is essential for designing and creating brand assets. It should have sufficient processing power, memory, and storage to handle design software and large files.
Monitor: An external monitor with good color accuracy, and resolution can help designers to visualize and fine-tune their designs accurately.
Input Devices: A keyboard, mouse, or graphic tablet can be used for precise input and control while designing. Graphic tablets, such as Wacom tablets, allow for more natural and precise drawing and are especially useful for creating digital illustrations or sketches.
Printer and Scanner: A printer and scanner can be handy for creating physical copies of designs, scanning sketches or reference materials, and reviewing print materials.
Graphic Design Software: Brand designers rely on graphic design software to create visual elements and assets. Some popular design software options include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and CorelDRAW. These software tools provide a wide range of features and functionalities for designing logos, illustrations, layouts, and other visual elements.
Branding and Prototyping Software: Software such as Figma can be used to create brand guidelines, design templates, and interactive prototypes. These tools enable brand designers to showcase their designs in a cohesive and user-friendly manner.
Project Management and Collaboration Tools: To facilitate collaboration with team members or clients, project management and collaboration tools like Trello can be used. These tools help in organizing tasks, sharing files, and streamlining communication.
Font Libraries: Access to a comprehensive library of fonts is crucial for brand designers to choose appropriate typography for the brand. Online platforms like Google Fonts provide an extensive collection of fonts for designers to explore and use.
Color Palette Tools: Tools like Pantone’s Color Finder can help brand designers create and manage color palettes for their designs. These tools provide color exploration, palette creation, and color scheme generation features.
Networking & Marketing Yourself
Connect with other professionals in the branding industry by attending industry events, joining design associations, and participating in online design communities. Create a professional online presence with your own website or by signing up to relevant job platforms, such as Upwork. Additionally, you can showcase your branding and design expertise on social media platforms to attract an audience and build your reputation.
Brand design often involves collaborating with other professionals such as marketing managers, copywriters, web developers, and photographers. Develop your communication and teamwork skills to effectively collaborate with these team members and align your design work with overall brand objectives.
Both branding and design are ever-evolving fields, so it is essential to continue learning and expanding your skills. Stay curious, seek out learning opportunities, take courses, and experiment with new design techniques and tools to stay ahead.
As more businesses recognize the importance of a well-crafted brand identity, brand designers are becoming more integral to a company’s team. By understanding a brand’s values, target audience, and market landscape, these designers can create visual elements and assets that convey the company’s message and create a memorable brand experience.
To become a brand designer, be sure to develop your skills continuously, stay up-to-date with design trends, and network with other professionals in the industry. By following the steps outlined in this article and continuously honing your skills, you can embark on a rewarding career as a brand designer and help businesses establish a strong and impactful presence.