We’re very much anti-jargon here at Hello Starling. When it comes to communicating with our clients we use plain English, possibly adding a “tipyn bach” of Welsh if we’re feeling brave. Inevitably however, when it comes to discussion about design and branding, an element of subject-specific terminology can not be avoided. For this reason, we’ve produced a simple and comprehensive design glossary with the aim of clearing up some terms that you’re likely to stumble upon in any design project.


Baseline Simple. The imaginary line along which text sits in a design.


Bleed Think of the bleed as the “safety box” when it comes to printing. It’s the blank edge around an image that is cut away after printing, ensuring the artwork reaches right to the edge of the final document.


Brand This is a tough one, and something that you will find defined a million different ways in a million different places. We like to think of an organisation’s brand as the promise to their customers that extends to everything from ethos to products. What will a customer get when they interact with something with your name on it?


Composition This is the way objects and text are arranged in a design to ensure it is both aesthetically pleasing (looks good) and is effective (does the job). Having an eye for composition is the kind of instinct designers are born with, whilst the rest of us just nod along with their suggestions.


Corporate identity The way a company is seen in the eyes of the people inside the business as well as the outside world (including customers, investors and employees). The corporate identity should represent the core values of the business but also give it a personality. This is not to be confused with visual identity which is purely the way the company portrays itself visually through logos, signage, advertising, architecture etc.


Kerning The spacing between letters in a piece of text. In context, “Oh, John, can we increase the kerning on that logo? It all looks a bit squished up at the mo.”


Leading The spacing between lines of text. In context, “Let’s increase the leading while you’re at it.”


Logo The visual stamp of a brand, composed of pictorial and/or typographical elements and used to identify everything associated with a brand.


Orphan That annoying final word that appears alone on a separate line at the end of a paragraph. Alternatively, the opening line of a paragraph appearing at the very bottom of the preceding page in a document.


Pixels A single point in a graphic image on a screen/monitor. The size of an image on a screen is measured in pixels (arranged in rows and columns).


Resolution Refers to the clarity of an image, the larger the resolution, the crisper the image (and larger the file size). Resolution is actually is a 2-dimensional measure expressed as the number of pixels displayed horizontally by the number of pixels displayed vertically. Low resolution images create smaller file documents.


Saving formats Jpegs, Gifs, PDFs. What’s it all about? Allow the table below to summarise.



Why’s it important? Let me briefly describe a designer’s nightmare: A client asks them to design a brochure quickly. The designer requests a copy of the logo for this brochure. The client sends over a logo dragged off from their website, via email. As a .jpeg. NIGHTMARE. The low resolution version of the image is fine for a webpage, where the small file size means it’s uploaded in a timely fashion suited for the internet. However, as a low resolution image, the quality is too poor to be used on printed material. Images required for print material should be shared in .pdf format.


Tagline A statement (something memorable, meaningful and concise) that captures the essence of a brand – a distillation that informs the customer of who you are and what you offer. Think of the tagline as your brand’s mission statement made catchier and customer-focused.


Touch points The various formats through which the customer comes into contact with your organisation – any way through which they experience “the brand”. This means everything from products to packaging to pricing, website exploring, marketing material and in store experience.


Colour models


RGB The colour model used to represent the colours in an image that appear on a screen (TV, monitors, projectors etc.). It stands for red, green and blue, as each colour in an image is created through a mix of the three.


CMYK This is the colour model used to represent the colours in a printed image (as opposed to one on a screen). Each colour is made through a mix of cyan, magenta yellow and black.


Vector graphic A vector image is made of objects (as opposed to pixels) and when it is resized it does not lose image quality. You can take a vector image and resize it to the size of Buckingham Palace and it will not lose its crispness – madness! Vector graphics are smaller in file size than other graphic images.


Zeitgeist Zeitgeist basically refers to the general trend or fashion of a given period – “the spirit of the age” or “the spirit of the time”. We’ve explained design zeitgeist and the affect it has on our work in more detail on our blog. Nail the definition and sound clever in front of your mates.