20 Types of Graphic Design
Graphic design has several uses both in perpetuating brand awareness as well as to make products and services functional. These facets are indelibly intertwined with each other. Thus, graphic design has to start by addressing the big picture. So a lot of graphic design types have significant overlaps with each other. But in the interests of addressing your specific requirements, here are 20 types of graphic design that money can buy.
The logo of a company is its most crucial visual identity. It has to convey the company name in readable text and make it look attractive and thematic. The graphic designer uses typography and illustration to create a unique visual marker identifying the company from the products with its labels. The logo has to reflect the nature of its products thematically. It can be made in several formats, compact or elaborate, to fit other brandings like merchandise or billboards. Because of its crucial necessity, small companies might start with a logo for their visual marketing before investing in other brand identity graphics.
A company creates a market persona through its brands. A brand is a consistent visual identity created to sell the company's products. The graphic design of a brand emulates a kind of personality that reflects the theme of the products it's selling. This personality creates an emotional marker and association of the brand in their shoppers and customers, promoting brand loyalty and increasing customer retention. The brand identity begins with the logo, but it should extend into all of its visual components to reflect a consistency of personality. Choosing a visual theme that matches the brand personality will provide a design framework for the graphics used throughout every visual aspect of the products and sales.
Advertisement is the most important process of marketing. It spreads brand awareness in the target audience scattered across vast geography or culture. But it is the graphic design for advertisement displays that provides customised design solutions for its placement and duration. It’s not only enough to adhere to the brand identity graphic guidelines but to also cater to the specific place and time of advertising to catch audience attention in an increasingly crowded ad space. The advertised contents may also require exclusive coverage and thus needs to be designed to draw a viewer’s focus. A great advertisement attracts customers by distinguishing itself from other competing ads without compromising its brand persona. The graphic designer also has to make the ad compatible with its publishing format of billboards, posters or flyers.
It is not sufficient for digital advertising to adhere to only the above constraints. Digital ads are much more flexible to create and display because digital marketing can target them correctly to the intended audience. But the digital medium also makes it easy for users to ignore ads. Thus digital ads need to be catchier than analogue ones but they can balance it better with their brand visuals because of the reduced local competition. Including small animation loops or interactivity in ads can add a significant impact to digital ads.
Many products and services need to publish detailed documents relevant to their workings for their proper functioning. For example, restaurants need menus, finance marketing need data visualization and charts and technical products need manuals. These are collectively known as infographics because they present detailed information to a layperson along with graphical clarifications. The spectrum of beauty to functionality for infographics vary case to case. For example, a food menu needs to evoke appetites and thus has to focus mainly on graphical presentation, while a technical manual needs functional design elements like clear lines, symbols and highlighted text boxes.
Any interactive medium, be it websites, software applications, vending machines and ATMs and even household appliances need a well-designed user interface. Graphic design uses visual elements to subliminally and explicitly guide the user through the intended interactive journey. This guidance ensures that the interface does not confuse or derail the user and thus compromise its functionality. An excellent interface causes users to develop a familiarity or even liking for the process and encourages returning users. It’s not only sufficient for user interfaces to be functional but also to look appealing and thematically harmonious with the product and brand.
Website and Landing page
Apart from the user interface, graphic designers also need to design the presentation of the content on websites. This requirement is especially true of landing pages where the focus is on a single or single type of product. The text style, background colour, decorative shapes all serve both functional and attractive purposes. The graphic designer presents the content in layers of decreasing engagement prioritising important information. This information hierarchy is created by establishing a consistent scheme of layered contrast throughout the website or landing page. This contrast scheme is created through typographic techniques and colour psychology. The design should also evoke intended emotions in the user to coax the reader into a positive attitude regarding the contents.
Corporate design refers to the brand identity displayed on a company’s in house stationery such as letterheads, envelopes, notepads, forms, folders, brochures or even staplers. Using these perpetuate the brand identity not only internally among the staff and stakeholders but also among external clients and collaborators. The corporate design also has to adhere to brand identity guidelines and use recommended typefaces and graphic design styles. Watermarks are a unique design element which embeds the brand personality in the work atmosphere.
Art and illustrations are not strictly in the domain of design, but in today's world of graphical marketing, the lines are a blur. Besides, illustrations in graphic design are not merely artistic; they have to fulfil their functional role first. Thus, interface symbols, product visualisations and technical illustrations have to make serious design decisions and balance both functionalities and looks. In today's competitive brand space, even the artistic aspects of the art or photograph used need deliberate composition and careful curation, keeping the brand aesthetics and user experience in mind.
Brochure design falls into a few other design types such as advertisement, infographics, and corporate design. Still, each format demands a unique design thinking and process to cater to its unique scenario. Even designing a brochure for advertising needs to be differentiated based on whether it's for brand awareness or promotion. Corporate brochures such as company profiles and annual reports also need attractive design with the brand's thematic consistency to assure stakeholders of the brand's continued reliability. Thus the graphic designer creating a brochure has to walk the delicate balance between functional guidance and engaging and artistic presentation, just like other infographics.
Business and Visiting Card
A business card represents the company, while a visiting card represents the person. The former contains the company's official contacts, and it mentions the card owner along with her position in the company. While visiting cards name the person in her rights alone. But both of these are important avenues of contacts which are the result of personal interactions. Thus a business or visiting card has to reflect personal warmth along with the necessary information and brand themes. A card designer has to manage a minimal design with compacted but tastefully printed information.
Invitation cards are welcoming gestures directed not at a market, but selected individuals or clients. Invitations might be business or marketing related, or they can be personal. Usually, the individual or company sending the invite stakes its image in the presentation. It is not just about information or awareness; it is also about creating and keeping long term relations with the invitees. An invitation to a promotional conference, for instance, requires more brand imagery, while a wedding invitation needs to reflect personal warmth and style. A personal invite is a delicate affair and needs professional graphic designers to ensure that it conveys the correct emotion. So that when the inviter asks for "no gifts", the invitees don't misread the overwhelming beauty or blandness of the card and brings gifts anyway out of guilt or pity.
Publication design involves creating layouts, visual aids and selecting appropriate illustrations and typefaces. Books, newspapers, magazines and catalogues all use publication design. Its role is to visualise the important and hard to understand information and increase the clarity of the text. Like website and landing page design, this too needs to create an information hierarchy with a contrast scheme. The page layout, colour schemes and highlighted text boxes all contribute to the clarification process. For mainstream marketing books like magazines and catalogues, the visual elements need to create a glamorous and attractive presentation apart from the functional guidance.
Book cover design might seem in the domain of publication, but in terms of graphic design, it's pretty different. While publication design concerns itself with the presentation of the content, book cover design is closer to packaging or label design. It's popular wisdom to not judge by its cover, but like all commodities, books too, compete for the attention of potential buyers. Thus, having an attractive cover that also conveys the book's aesthetic is vital to the book's sales. The cover art is not the only requisite for a good book cover - it also needs careful selection of appropriate typefaces and typography to match the book's and author's name with the cover art and theme. Cover design also includes the design of the blurb and technical fine print.
Creating branded merchandise is part and parcel of promotional marketing. This involves printing brand and promotional graphics onto various generic lifestyle articles like mugs, t-shirts, bottles, notepads, baseball caps and more. Though most of the design is the same as the brand or product's visual identity, merch design has to decide the layout and placement of the graphics. It has to maximise the visibility of the graphics and choose the base colour of the merchandise to serve as the appropriate background for the graphics.
Packaging design is all about how the packaged product looks on the shelf. It has to distinguish itself from other products in the same space to attract the shopper. Because there is always a limited local pool of products, the graphic designer has to consider the current meta and design the package to shine among it. The brand identity is an important consideration especially if it has a good advertisement campaign. Like book cover designs, here too the designer has to decide the layout of the logo, product name and fine print placement.
Label design, though closely affiliated with packaging, needs deliberation in terms of mandatory information. Some details about the product are legally required to be printed on the body of the product itself. To design labels, the graphic designer has to take into account the shape and dimensions of the product. If the label is directly printed on the product, he also has to consider the surface and print quality. Labels of packaged products can use minimal graphics and only focus on the logo and fine print. But when products are sold on the shelf without a package, labels have to pick up the tasks of attracting the shopper. Then the label design will also include selecting the product surface colour.
Motion design involves creating animated graphics to add visual interest or catchiness to a static graphic. A motion graphics designer can use kinetic typography to create dynamic transitions to introduce product or brand names to highlight them. Animation gives explicit personalities to still items and thus has the potential to emphasise the brand or product persona. For example, a food product can introduce its name with a stylised text that unravels like a noodle.
Motion design also includes animating the logo or other graphical elements. Many dynamic features exclusive to digital media like loading screens, page transitions and scrolling can also benefit immensely by using even subtle motion design. It can breathe life into an otherwise motionless content. But since motion design draws so much attention, it should be used in strict moderation to not be distracting.
Environmental design involves decorating and moulding an area to emanate the desired atmosphere to all those who enter it. It involves adorning walls and barriers with graphics that reflect the brand or product aesthetics. Banners, placards and even upholstery can add to designing the appropriate environment. This type of design is usually used in creating attractive and thematic kiosks, event halls, exhibits and conference rooms. Good environment design makes the space both memorable and easy to navigate.
Vehicle wraps are visual displays that are printed directly on the body of a vehicle. The design of vehicle wraps has to consider the shape and size of the vehicle. The designer has to understand the vehicle’s context and create appropriate placements of graphics and text to ensure both visibility and legibility. Vehicle wraps are important for tours, long-term marketing campaigns, or mobile shops.
Phew! That was a long list. If you don’t find the graphic design type you are looking for in the list above, it’s probably another kind of design altogether.