Photo courtesy of Better Than Stock.


Design lingo can be confusing, especially if it’s not your first language.

Optimized? Favicon? Wha?!?!

We want you to feel empowered when it comes to talking to your designer (or even just designing your own stuff), which is why we’ve put together this glossary of design lingo that will help you fake it ’til you make it.


In the simplest terms, branding is the overall look and feel of your business. Many people make the mistake of thinking that your brand is just your logo. And while your logo is part of your brand, it’s not the only part. Branding also includes your fonts, colors, photography, and even the language style you use when marketing your business.


Your logo is the icon (with maybe a little bit of text) that gets across the essence of your business. It should be classic, simple, and memorable. Logos get used in places like the header of your website, the front of your business card, maybe even on a t shirt.


Fonts are the style of lettering that you use with your branding. There are many different types of fonts: serif (more traditional), sans serif (more modern), and handwriting (more casual).

When using a font for your marketing materials, you need licensed fonts; meaning that you’ve paid to use them. Without a license you may get slapped with a cease and desist, or even a law suit. is currently my favorite site to shop for licensed fonts.


A favicon is the teeny tiny little icon that appears next to your website name or address in your browser (depends on which browser you use). Personally, I think having a favicon makes your site look finished, and polished. It shows that you’ve thought of every last detail.


Every image you see on your screen is made up of little tiny colored dots called pixels. On most screens there are 72 of these pixels per inch.

You’ll often see measurements given in pixel size (instead of inches). Want to know how big your Facebook cover image should be? Or the size of your Instagram profile pic? Expect those dimensions to be in pixels. If you’re using Adobe Photoshop, you’ll be using those numbers as the height and width of your new document.

Vector File

Pixels are limited. When you increase the size of an image made of pixels it loses quality. Vector’s don’t. Vector files can be shrunk to the size of a postage stamp or blown up to the size of a billboard, and they’ll always look just as crisp and clean as when they were created.

Logo files should always be created as vector files. If you see file extensions like .AI, .EPS, and .PDF these are Vector files.

Web Optimized

Big files take a long time to load on the internet. With people’s patience and attention spans getting shorter and shorter as transfer speeds get faster and faster, no one’s going to sit around and wait for your 2MB file to load.

Web optimized files have a lower resolution and file formats with more compression in order to make your file size as small as possible. Web optimized formats include .PNG, .JPG, and .GIF.

High Resolution

High resolution files are necessary for anything that’s going to print. (Printing a low res file leaves you with a bad case of pixelation.)

Remember when we talked about pixels a few seconds ago? Instead of having 72 of those little guys per inch, high resolution files pack 300 into the same space, giving you a clear image. High resolution file types include .TIF, .EPS and .PDF.

Color Formulas

Every color you see on your screen or in print is made up of a combination of other colors. Screen colors are made up of red, green, and blue (or RGB for short). Print colors are made up of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK if you’re nasty.) Other color formulas you might find yourself using are Hex (for web) and Pantone (for print).

When you’re branding, it’s important to be as consistent as possible with your color palette. That means knowing the formulas for your brand colors and using them to get the same exact color every time you design.


Is there a term that you’ve always wondered about that maybe we missed? Let us know in the comments below.


Are you looking for a graphic designer that speaks your language? Someone that won’t talk in terms way over your head, and makes sure that you understand what’s going on in your project every step of the way? That’s our specialty, and we’d love to work with you.

Send us a note to reserve your space on our project calendar.