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A Guide To Graphic Design

Graphic design plays a critical role in marketing and advertising. But, there’s a lot more that goes into effective graphic design than people may realize. According to Adobe Blog, design-led companies that stimulate creativity obtain a 1.5x greater market share. So, how can a company achieve effective graphic design that converts? There are a lot of graphic design elements that need to align in order to create engaging, attention-grabbing design.

However, the work is well worth it because good graphic design strengthens brands, increases viewer engagement, attracts and keeps customers interested, improves communication between a brand and its customers and potential customers, and helps build trust. There’s a reason graphic design is a $45.8 billion industry that is used by virtually every sector from manufacturing, publishing, advertising, the medical field, education, and website and app design.

A Guide to Graphic Design

Graphic design is an extremely diverse field that has applications that span across nearly every industry. If you’re interested in learning more about graphic design and its uses, you’re in the right place. Let’s dive in.

What is Graphic Design?

Graphic design uses art to communicate specific ideas or messages visually. Common examples of graphic design include a business logo, website design, t-shirt designs, brochures, and even graphic novels and video games. Graphic design typically combines images, words, and ideas in order to convey a message or invoke a specific feeling.

The Fundamentals of Graphic Design

As we mentioned, graphic design spans industries and has countless uses. There are some graphic design fundamentals you should know about, including:


Line is the most basic graphic design element. Lines can be straight, thick, thin, curved, and so on. A line is defined by a point moving in space.


A shape is any 2-D area that is defined by lines. Shapes can be geometric, abstract, or organic shapes.


Color attracts attention, invokes feelings, and adds beauty. In graphic design, there are three characteristics of color: hue (the color’s family), value (how light/dark the color appears), and the color’s saturation (how pure the color is).


Typography is the art and method of arranging type— or the letters and characters that get assembled during graphic design. Typography’s goal is to arrange type to make a design’s written language legible, readable, and to ensure it has an appealing look. Typography includes bold, regular, or light, different sizing, colors, and spacing. 


In graphic design, texture is a term to define how the design looks like it would feel if it were touched. Textures can be smooth, rough, soft, hard, glossy, and so forth. Texture is a great graphic design tool to draw attention. If people can actually touch the texture in graphic design, they are more likely to remember what they saw and touched, so it’s a powerful tool.


Size is a pretty basic element and refers to how small or big something is. Often in graphic design, size is used to indicate how important something is and to grab attention and interest with contrasting sizes.


Space refers to any areas in graphic design that stay blank. Often, graphic designers will use large spaces to add emphasis to other areas of the design.

Graphic Design Principles

In order to create graphic design that is effective, there are some principles of design that provide guidance for how a designer should arrange the different components of their design to ensure that all design elements make sense and connect o one another. They include:


Symmetry and asymmetry are tools to help graphic design achieve visual balance. To achieve balance, all lines, shapes, and other graphic design elements should be distributed evenly. Balance is a great tool to ensure a design is stable and structured properly. 


If your graphic design appears as if you just took different elements and threw them on the page, your key message will be lost. In order to avoid this, you need to ensure proper alignment. Alignment focuses on keeping the graphic design organized. In order to achieve alignment, you need to align all design aspects with the top, center, or sides to forge a visual connection among the different elements.


Proximity is a graphic design fundamental used to create a visual relationship between all design elements used. We talked about how organization is vital for effective graphic design, and proximity helps achieve this by minimizing clutter and making it easy for a viewer to understand the design and its key message.


When all elements have been decided on, repeat the patterns to establish a consistent design. Repetition is key to tie together individual elements while also strengthening the design and again, creating an organized design that is easy to follow and flows together.


Contrasting is a great tool to place emphasis on specific parts of a graphic design. If there’s anything you want to really stand out in the design, use contract to highlight it.

Types of Graphic Design

As we mentioned, graphic design has many uses across many industries. Let’s take a look at the main types of graphic design.

Web Design

Web design isn’t really a type of graphic design, instead, graphic design is an element of web design. But, we still think it’s important to mention as web design continues to gain in popularity and importance. Web designers have to consider and combine many graphic design elements, including images, typography, and layout in order to create a visually applying, easy-to-navigate web design. 

Corporate Design

After web design, the graphic design that most laymen are most familiar with is corporate design. Take a look around the room and see how many items have logos on them. It’s easy to see that corporate design is massively important. Corporate design’s goal is to communicate brand values via color, shapes, and images..and hopefully the design is so effective it sticks in consumer’s minds forever (for example, the Fruit Loops bird, Tony the Tiger, and Ronald McDonald).

Marketing and Advertising Design

This is another type of graphic design that is extremely well-known. This pertains to infographics, logos, graphics, and images you see company’s push out via social media as well as billboards, magazine ads, and other forms of advertising.

Packaging Design

Packaging plays a huge role in whether consumers grab a product from the shelf or not. Did you know that 72% of American consumers say their purchasing decision is influenced by the packaging design? Graphic designers use many different elements to create attention-grabbing packaging to convince customers to buy a product, whether it large text that says “fat-free” or “new,” or any of the countless products for kids that incorporate Mickey Mouse, Elsa, Paw Patrol, and other characters that are going to make children throw a fit if their parents don’t add the item to their shopping cart.

Now that you have a basic understanding of graphic design and its uses and best practices, start implementing them today to grab the attention of an audience and effectively (and beautifully) convey your brand’s message.