It’s a consumer’s world, and there are endless options out there to choose from no matter what product or service you’re looking for.
Great news for consumers…but not so much for businesses competing in a market more saturated than ever.
These days people want to feel like they know a company, and 88% of consumers say that authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands they like, support and invest in. Money matters and people don’t want to give their hard-earned cash to just anyone.
One of the best ways to do this successfully is through branding. Keeping a consistent brand image helps customers position and understand a business, and makes it easier for them to remember and create positive associations with it.
Humanising a brand allows for an even deeper connection with an audience, and 46% of consumers say that they would pay more to purchase from brands they can trust. A not insignificant number.
Long gone are the days of heading out to a shop and building a rapport with the owner. With so many of our interactions now online, how best to build a trusting and long-lasting relationship with consumers should be a major consideration when launching a brand.
Consumers care about more than just the product experience and want to know all about a brand’s message and its impact on society. People are increasingly interested in a brand’s values, how they treat their employees and what they care about beyond profit. 66% of consumers say transparency is one of the most attractive qualities in a brand, and this can be communicated via considered and consistent brand design.
A skilled brand designer will be responsible for designing a visual identity for a product, person, company, or service. They work to create a visual story that will be communicated across a variety of formats, platforms and environments including logos, apps and websites, social media, magazines, physical environments and more.
Successful branding should help an audience immediately recognise a company, its products, and its content. Brand designer's breathe life into a brand, and you're going to need access to the latest and greatest design software to do so.
When you're past the beginner stage and want to start adding to your skillset, there are several branding tools available to explore that will instantly take your work to a new level.
Being proficient in the most popular branding tools will ensure that you can take all of their creative ideas and combine them with thorough research to create a branding strategy that will cut through the noise and leave a memorable, lasting impression.
Adobe is the industry leader when it comes to graphic design software, and almost all designers will use them throughout their careers no matter what their skill level. With InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop, designers have everything they need to create logos, edit photographs, and everything in between.
While these are the most popular options and a necessity for most designers, there are a number of (often free and open-source) alternatives to explore to suit all skill levels. These tools can be particularly handy if you’re a budding brand designer who wants to learn more about their capabilities and what it takes to build a successful branding career.
In a digital world that is rapidly evolving, keeping up with trends, new tools, and new programs is a necessity for any brand designer who wants to stay on top of their game.
Read on to discover more about the most innovative and impressive brand design software currently being used by talented designers worldwide (and of all of levels of ability).
Illustrator is commonly used to create logos, promotional or branded content, icons, website graphics, digital artwork, and more.
It works across desktop and mobile devices and can be used to quickly create beautiful designs that can go anywhere—print, web and apps, video and animations, and more.
It’s a vital piece in any designer’s toolkit when it comes to bringing ideas to life and is the most used software among design agencies and freelancers for everything from pixel-perfect illustrations to logo and icon design and more.
Illustrator works with vector art, meaning that anything created using the software can be scaled to minuscule proportions, or even blown up to fit a gargantuan billboard, all without losing any of the image quality. Pixel-perfect results make it especially good for creating logos, icons, and crisp typography.
It’s an impressive, feature-rich software package that works beautifully and efficiently with other Adobe apps, and once mastered it makes it easy to control the most important aspects of brand design with shape-building tools, brushes, perspective grids, gradients, and more.
Works well alongside all Adobe apps
Creates scalable content
Steep learning curve if not proficient in using design software
Windows and macOS
Illustration scanning, Pantone or CMYK palettes, over 20,000 fonts types, vector-based, 100GB of cloud storage, Adobe Portfolio and Adobe fonts included, templates and vector logo objects available for beginners
£19.97 a month, a seven-day free trial available and a 30-day money-back guarantee. More affordable options are available when purchased as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud package.
InDesign is the industry-standard software for designing single and multipage documents containing text, vector artwork, and images. It uses precise grids and guides to position page elements as desired and creates polished layouts. It’s a designer’s best friend when working on anything that would fall under the banner of publishing including single-page documents such as business cards, leaflets, flyers and posters, and multi-page documents such as catalogues, brochures, books and e-books, annual reports, and magazines.
It allows users to set up master page layouts that are instantly unified throughout the document, and pages are numbered automatically and can easily be re-ordered, duplicated, and swapped. Text styles, columns, margins and other features specific to publishing are also made more reliable. One of its key features is its wide range of export options — designers can easily format for print, web and even specific devices such as Kindles and iPads.
One of its key features is its ability to create dynamic PDF documents. Users can include interactive art, buttons, movies, bookmarks, page transitions, and sounds — all of which help an otherwise static document come alive.
Exceptional for text-rich, multi-page documents
Unifies design elements from Photoshop and Illustrator
Versatile drawing, typing and transformation tools
Tricky to master if you're a complete beginner
Windows and macOS
Easily syncs with other adobe programmes, impressive text design tools, text and font manipulation, excellent page layout tools precise enough for professional use, easy online publishing tools
£19.97 a month, a seven-day free trial available, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. More affordable options are available when purchased as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud package.
Photoshop launched the digital image editing revolution more than 30 years ago, and it continues to be the best photo editing software available today.
Adobe’s cutting-edge image editing software is used to create eye-catching and professional designs across a range of mediums and makes use of layering to allow for depth and flexibility in the design and editing process. It is extensively used in the brand and web design industries for raster image editing, graphic design, typography, drawing, and digital art.
It is Adobe’s most popular app and is widely known as the master of image editing and manipulation.
Originally designed as a comprehensive solution for creating, manipulating and retouching any type of image, it’s now used fundamentally by professional designers to create striking illustrations, icons, logos and more. Designers can use it to create web-ready imagery, artists can use it to draw, sketch or even paint digitally, and photographers can use it to transform their photos with lighting and colour.
Works flawlessly with other Adobe products
Creates web and mobile-friendly images and logos
User interface can be overwhelming for a novice user
Windows and macOS
Integrated stock image library, animation tools, texture and colour level tools, unparalleled editing features, scale-independent, easy file transfer between programmes, can be used with all formats of imagery, synced libraries, and cloud documents
£9.98 a month, a seven-day free trial available, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. More affordable options are available when purchased as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud package.
While Adobe’s creative software packages are undeniably impressive — and a must for any working brand designer — there are several free (or very affordable) design programmes available that can help you create one of the most important tools in any branding exercise — a logo.
These are a great choice for complete beginners who want to try their hand at brand design without committing to any monthly subscriptions.
While they may not be able to offer the full scope of design capabilities that you can expect from Adobe’s software, they’re a good option for small business owners, beginners, and budding brand designers on a budget.
Logo design software lets users with no design abilities create a professional-looking logo that can be used on websites, social media, business cards, merchandise and more. They’re there to help even a complete design newbie create a clean logo that conveys their business’s brand and message.
When it comes to brand recognition, nothing is quite as effective as a memorable logo. A well-designed logo is the foundation of a brand’s identity and should grab attention, make a strong first impression and foster brand loyalty.
Just look at these famous logos. We bet that it takes less than a second for you to know exactly who they are, and what their brand represents.
Recognisability is incredibly important when building trust with consumers, and 50% of people say they are much more likely to use a company whose logo they easily recognise. Even more damningly, 60% admit they avoid companies with unattractive or confusing logos, even if they have good reviews.
Colour should also be a key decision for anyone designing a brand’s logo, as the use of a memorable signature colour increases brand recognition by as much as 80%. Just think of Coca-Cola’s iconic cherry red, Cadbury’s vibrant purple, and Ikea’s Swedish-inspired blue and yellow pairing. Once chosen, these colours should dominate a brand’s website, social media, physical assets and more. An average consumer will see any one of these colours and their thoughts will immediately go to the brand in question.
The right logo conveys everything a brand has to say, without saying a word, and it is possible to create one without having a substantial budget. A free logo maker allows budding designers to test the waters when dipping their toe into the world of brand design, before investing or subscribing to more advanced software.
They’re not suitable if working for a paying client, but if you’re testing out ideas for a project, or need something simple and fast for a presentation they can save a lot of time.
These handy tools can help even beginners to use shape and colour in a memorable and understandable way to create a recognisable logo for any business.
Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free logo design software and open-source image editor that makes an excellent cost-conscious alternative to Adobe Photoshop.
It comes with a huge array of professional-quality functions for fine-tuning snaps and creating your own artwork from scratch, and it packs enough punch to genuinely rival Adobe's imaging behemoth.
Users can enjoy an impressive selection of features including various ways to retouch your images, cropping, noise reduction and colour adjustment tools, customisable brushes, gradients and much more. Advanced users won’t get bored either, and can play around with layer masks, bezier curves, filters and even an animation package.
While it does lack the full range of features you’d find in paid programmes, GIMP’s essential tools are powerful and impressive, and easily on par with Photoshop’s.
Its active community of contributors means it’s in constant development, and anyone looking to learn can expect to enjoy a responsive and welcoming community happy to answer any design or software-related queries.
All in all, it’s a remarkable photo editor, only bolstered by the fact that it’s free and accessible to all.
Free and open-source
Suitable for new and experienced designers
Intuitive, easy-to-use interface
Lacks range of features in comparison to paid software
Linux, Windows, Mac OS X
Layers, highly customizable brushes, filters and automatic image-enhancement tools, extensive customisation tools, and excellent community support.
Canva is technically an online, general-purpose graphics editor but their purpose-built logo creator deserves a nod. Built for beginners who want to role-play as an experienced designer, Canva’s convenient and flexible free logo maker features a very visual and easy-to-use interface that can help anyone whip up a great logo in no time at all.
Users start by choosing a template, and they can then personalize the colours, shapes, and symbols to suit their brand strategy and preferences. It even includes a selection of customisable icons to suit a range of business sectors to make creating a dynamic, memorable logo even easier.
The process is made even simpler by the addition of pre-made colour and font combinations that look good right out of the box. Once the user decides on their elements, these can then be customised with the simple drag-and-drop editor.
It’s great quality, fun to use and offers excellent and truly beginner-friendly tools. This great option is guaranteed to satisfy novice designers looking to play around with design ideas as well any business owners on a budget in need of new branding.
Suitable for complete beginners
Premium graphic elements available from 80p
Social media sharing limited to Twitter and Facebook
Windows and Mac
One-click background eraser and animate tool, easy sharing capabilities, extensive pre-made templates and colour palettes, easy and free logo export
Free for the basic platform, £9.95 for pro-package
Not content with dominating the e-commerce arena, Shopify’s beginner-friendly and completely free logo maker Hatchful is a popular choice.
With its hundreds of templates, users can create professional-looking, clean logos in a flash with absolutely no design experience.
While all free logo makers are technically suitable for beginners, Hatchful really does make it simple.
Users are prompted to enter the business name, type, preferred creative style and logo needs e.g. website, business card, merchandise, social media etc. The platform then takes this information and creates hundreds of logo variations in the chosen style which you can then customise. Editing options include adjusting the font, colour palette and layout until you’re happy with the final result. You can’t manipulate the logo to the degree some platforms offer, but you can still make it feel like your own.
Unlike some of its competitors, you can then download a high-quality logo in a variety of resolutions that can be used across a number of platforms, completely for free!
Logo available in a variety of sizes and aspect ratios
Simple to use and all elements easy to edit
Requires no design experience or skill
Limited template customisation and personalisation
Windows and Mac
Handy AI logo generator, beginner-friendly, polished interface, swift user process, free for all logos and sizes, a large array of templates to suit all industries
Since its launch in 2015, Tailor Brands have created over 50 million designs for over 30 million users worldwide.
Similar to Hatchful, Tailor Brands’ main draw is its AI-assisted logo generator that asks a few quick questions about your logo requirements, intended usage and needs and it offers up a number of designs you can choose from. From here users can change the font, and colour, and add or remove elements to match it to their envisioned logo design.
When you're happy with it you can download a low-resolution option for free or pay for high-resolution files. One negative is that the free file you get is very small, and you’ll need to upgrade to the basic plan to get access to the full range of logo sizes.
If you do, you’ll then be able to export a folder containing your logo of choice that can then be used across websites, print, social media, marketing materials, business cards and more to help any business create a unified brand.
They also offer web hosting, business mailboxes, and website or online store creation – handy if you’re a new business owner looking for a one-stop-shop to launch your online venture.
Large choice of templates to suit all industries
Handy extra features on basic and premium plans
Easy to navigate
Only 192px PNG logo is free
Windows and Mac
AI-powered generator, clear and simple customisation tools, large choice of logo types, extensive scalability options, great for beginners
Free for a small logo, £8.50 a month for the basic plan, £42 a month for the premium plan (includes online store and web hosting)
An artist is nothing without their tools, and proficiency in Adobe’s creative software programmes will make it possible for a brand designer to take all their best ideas and turn them into amazing digital art with ease and efficiency.
Using this content, they can then implement a branding strategy that’ll no doubt delight their client, engage their intended target audience, and show off the very best of their branding skills.
If you’re a new designer or just want to explore the software, all of Adobe’s main players offer a seven-day free trial, giving curious creatives a chance to play around before committing to a subscription. If you know you’ll need them for the long term, consider bundling a few of the products. You’ll certainly use them all, and it can save you a significant amount of money over time. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, and you’re not going to be able to show off your abilities or excel in a design career without access to these powerful programmes.
If you’re simply looking to play around and get a feel for visual design, or need some basic graphics to launch your business on a budget, then one of the free tools will offer everything you’ll need for the very early stages. While no comparison to the unique artwork a brand designer will be able to create, they’re a handy, budget-friendly option for anyone looking to create and brand their own little corner in the online world.
If you’ve had your interest piqued, visit our article What is a Branding Agency? to learn more about the branding process.