There often seems to be a lot of uncertainty around graphic design. One question that designers of all kinds commonly get asked is “what does a graphic designer actually do?” – it’s a tough one to answer because it’s such a diverse field of study.
In design, there’s no such thing as a single “right” answer like in other vocations like finance or law. Combined with the sheer scope of deliverables that graphic designers can provide, it all makes the whole concept a little hard to pin down.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at 7 fields of study within graphic design that are particularly common, especially within the field of marketing. This way, we hope to cover the vast scope of graphic design whilst also outlining the tangible value that can be added with the help of a great designer.
But let’s get back to basics for a moment…
What is Graphic Design?
Graphic design is the art of visual communication. Graphic designers combine images, text, and colour to achieve a wide range of objectives which can include marketing, branding, corporate messaging, interface design, editorial functions, and much more (as we’ll discuss shortly).
However, the true value of good graphic design in marketing simply cannot be overstated. We make first impressions in an instant, so a poorly designed image or document can immediately turn people away.
Now, let’s take a look at 7 of the core specialisms within graphic design and the practical upshot of each.
The 7 Essential Pillars of Graphic Design
It goes without saying that all businesses need a strong, defined brand. But graphic designers who specialise in branding can provide far more than just a nice logo. Brand designers use colour, space, shape, typography, and texture to transform a company’s entire visual presence; translating the brand’s whole ethos into a cohesive visual look and feel.
As well as creating new brands from scratch, designers can also adapt and refresh existing brands to make them the best they can be.
Key Deliverables: Logos, Colour Palettes, Brand Style Guides, Iconography, Brand Consultancy & Strategy
Print Marketing Design
In a world where a very basic online presence can be achieved relatively cheaply, print marketing gives off a certain level of credibility and esteem. There’s also evidence to suggest that print marketing methods outperform digital ones in terms of recall and retention of information.
Key Deliverables: Print Advertisements, Brochures, Catalogues, Direct Mail, Flyers, Leaflets, Posters, Product Packaging, Exhibition Stand Displays
Digital Marketing Design
A brand’s online presence is often far more than just their website – companies often need elements of content marketing and social media in order to keep the pace with competitors online.
Content marketing relies on sharing useful and actionable information in shareable formats such as blog posts, videos, infographics, etc. Graphic designers can transform statistics and raw data into shareable and engaging infographics and can also create attractive collateral for social media – including posts, avatar images, and headers. Lead generation is also a crucial part of digital advertising; and graphic designers can also assist in creating landing pages and “lead magnet” resources to encourage new email subscribers.
Key Deliverables: Social Media Graphics, Landing Page Design, Infographics, Online Banner Ad Design, Illustrations, Ebook Design
Design for Stationery and Corporate Gifts
If you’re giving out branded items to potential clients, they need to paint your organisation in the best possible light. Brand visibility is most essential in the places we tend to take for granted: business cards, letterheads, compliment slips, and other external-facing stationery.
But corporate gifts are also a great way to build brand awareness, especially if you regularly exhibit or attend networking events. Branded stationery and desk accessories can be particularly powerful; if the prospect uses the item every time they’re at their desk, your brand has a good chance of remaining top of mind.
Key Deliverables: Business Cards, Letterheads, Compliment Slips, Presentation Folders, and Design for Branded Pens, Writing Pads, Drinkware, Coasters, etc.
Corporate Communications & Reports
Graphic design isn’t solely a marketing pursuit. Communicating and visualising data effectively is essential in business; graphic designers can put together engaging reports, attractive slide decks, proposals, tender documentation, annual reports, information packs/guides, and internal communication tools like staff handbooks, internal guidance documentation, and employee newsletters. Corporate communications are a much overlooked part of graphic design – a great designer can bring even the most dry, boring information to life!
Key Deliverables: Slide Decks/Presentations, Proposals, Reports, Guides, Data Visualisation, Infographics, Internal & External Communications
User Interface Design
The most important part of an app or website is arguably the user interface. This is the graphical layout that enables users to interact with the site/software and access its practical functions. UI designers are skilled in creating intuitive graphical interfaces that are both easy to use and in-keeping with the company’s other visual branding.
Key Deliverables: Web Design, App Design, SaaS System Design, Landing Page Design, Iconography, Design for Conversion Optimisation
Environmental design is another much overlooked element of graphic design – it’s the design of collateral that connects us physically and spatially to a brand. Examples of environmental design can include practical collateral such as wayfinding (“this way”) signage, or banners and media for purely marketing purposes. Murals and other physical branding inside a place of business helps to reinforce the brand and gives the space a unique flair.
The design of branded clothing and vehicle livery are essential for companies who maintain a physical presence amongst clients and prospects. By merely being present in your branded collateral, your team are actively contributing to your brand awareness.
Exhibition collateral such as roller banners, product displays, and exhibition furniture are also well within the remit of many graphic designers.
Key Deliverables: Design of Roller Banners, Navigation & Wayfinding Collateral, Office Branding & Murals, Product Packaging, Exhibition Display Systems, Clothing & Accessories, Vehicle Livery
We hope this gives you a good idea of the sheer range of marketing collateral that graphic designers can assist with. If you need help with any of the above types of design, reach out to the team here at OLCO. We’ve worked with the likes of The Royal Academy of Music, Ricoh, EDM Group, and Network Rail – and if we’re good enough for them, we’re good enough for you! Give us a call today on 0330 223 1193 and speak to one of the team.