Think of some of the most iconic brands you know. What makes them so memorable? It’s usually bold graphics, wonderful packaging, engaging ads, and well-written copy. Apple, Inc. is known for their fantastic packaging, featuring generous white space, gorgeous product photography, and tasteful typography. Nike uses strong type, inspiring imagery, and bold color palettes to convey the energy and lifestyle their brand embodies. Those two examples aren’t just an example of great branding, but excellent graphic design.
So what is graphic design, and how can good design help your company? Graphic design is the presentation of ideas and information to your audience in a clear, visually engaging manner. Graphic design lets you make a great first impression. Consumers tend to gravitate to better-designed products. It provides a quality anchor in their mind. Good design gives you instant credibility, inspires confidence and trustworthiness, and clearly communicates its point to your audience.
Poor graphic design can have disastrous consequences for your product or brand! Have you ever visited a website that was hard to navigate, or an ad in your mailbox that was hard to figure out? You likely left the website frustrated, perhaps even unable to complete the task that brought you there in the first place. Similarly, an ad that’s hard to read or visually disorienting probably failed to get your attention long enough to convey the message it was trying to send. Those are dollars the advertiser spent that failed to convert to a sale. The worse the design, the costlier it can be for a business.
Good graphic design ties a piece together. Typography, colors, images, and hierarchy are the resources a graphic designer uses to compose a design that clearly communicates information, value, and reasons to care in a quick, eye-catching manner. Designers use these principles to minimize distracting, less-important elements and highlight the things that are important, allowing viewers to quickly see what they need to know to decide on a purchase.
Maybe you’re not an artist. How can you start to think about graphic design?
- Consider your message. What’s most important? That should be the focus of the piece. Maybe write out a chart listing points you’re trying to convey in order of importance.
- Consider your brand’s values. What do you stand for? How do you want to make your customers feel? A down-home, country kitchen brand wouldn’t look like Apple, but it might have checkered tablecloths, warm colors, and a friendly tone to its ad copy. You can make a mood board using Pinterest—or even go analog and cut out pictures from magazines to paste up on a board! Finding and remaining true to your company’s voice will help ensure your message and look stay on point.
- Use your own experience as a consumer! When you see ads that you like, ask yourself why. Same goes for ads you don’t like. Articulating your likes/dislikes in various forms of advertising will make you both a more informed consumer, and a savvier business owner!