Graphic design is the process of using photography, illustrations and typography to visually communicate a message or idea. Look around, graphic design is everywhere, from book covers to your coffee mug or this website. You see examples of graphic design all around you every day, and usually, you won’t even notice it.
Graphic design is an important part of the wider branding process, often responsible for communicating complex ideas or concepts in a clear and simple way. Graphic designers rarely work in isolation, usually forming part of a larger team of marketers, advertisers and publishers. That’s not to say they’re employees – in fact, many graphic designers work on a freelance basis – but in business, they are usually part of a much bigger project.
Graphic design as an industry predates the world of online business by some way with its roots being firmly planted in the printing industry. There are members of this latest generation of graphic designers who have only ever worked in the digital space – however, that doesn’t mean they’re immune from the same old assumptions.
As for any creative industry, it can often be hard for the uninitiated to completely understand the complexities of graphic design. While you can teach the theory, the best graphic designers have to possess some natural talent – an “eye for design”.
Any industry where the process doesn’t always seem clear, as with the creative process of graphic design, is likely to give rise to assumptions and myths about the daily goings-on.
Much like owning a keyboard doesn’t make you a writer, owning Adobe Suite doesn’t make you a graphic designer. Not a good one at least. There are a ton of do-it-yourself “design” apps out there, like Canva. And honestly, most of them are great – they serve a purpose.
If you’re looking to knock up a quick graphic in the correct social media image size then these tools are perfectly suited for most businesses. But in truth, most of the time they are no replacement for a professional graphic designer.
You can have all the tools at your disposal, but it still takes a professional graphic designer to produce something truly unique that communicates that idea or message in just the right way.
Good graphic design is about more than being trendy. Sure, new design trends can help develop your skills and explore new methods but focus on them entirely and you can ignore the core brand of a business.
Trends come and go in graphic design, and a business should only look to embrace those trends that are in line with their core branding. A professional graphic designer understands this and will often need to reign in an overzealous client (whether internal or external) who wants to get a bit wacky.
That’s not to say being on top of the latest tastes and trends isn’t important for a graphic designer. It’s important to continue learning and take note of changes within the industry.
It can be. But graphic design is an industry where you definitely get what you pay for. Think about what you’re paying for and what you get at the end. There are tons of free “logo maker” type tools out there that will spit out a generic logo that looks right for your logo but it won’t be unique, and you’ll probably find your brand has to adapt to fit the look.
Similarly, you can go directly to a graphic designer through gig platforms like Fiverr and get a professionally designed logo for a small investment. But you may only get one concept to work from and have to pay extra for revisions. Even then, you may not get all the source files you’ll later need.
The majority of graphic designers are not marketing professionals, it’s a different stack – and a completely different way of working. However, graphic designers do their best work when alongside marketing and branding experts, rather than directly with a client.
That’s why it’s important to work with an agency that understands your brand and how it’s positioned within your overall market. In an agency, a marketing professional will work on brand positioning and what is going to differentiate you from the competition. Only after a thorough consultation will a marketer than craft the perfect brief for a graphic designer to produce your unique piece.
There are a few clichés that get thrown at graphic designers repeatedly, all in good humour mind, usually along the lines of “get your crayons out” or “roll this in glitter for me”. This speaks to the general lack of understanding of what goes into a graphic design project.
Aside from the obvious artistic talent and eye for detail required to be a good graphic designer, there is also a degree of technical skills required to use powerful image editing software effectively. Additionally, there is also a lot of psychological theory, research and planning that goes into even the most basic of graphic design jobs.
Ok, so not actually psychic – but some of the graphic design projects I’ve been involved in have shown that some people expect graphic designers to magic the perfect design with little to no input.
Providing a working brief is essential in order to get the right result from a graphic design project. A good brief will accurately express the expectations and vision for the project. The designer can then better understand the requirements and deliver the best possible design.
Just as a graphic designer can’t go to work without a brief, many business owners are unable to work from a blank piece of paper and articulate what they want. This is just another reason why it’s always best to work with a multi-disciplined agency that can guide you through the entire process and help establish your brand.
Far from it. Graphic design takes genuine talent as well as knowledge and technical skill. The best graphic designers bring with them a wealth of experience and understanding of what makes a design great.
When you look at some big brand logos out there, it’s easy to mistake simplicity for ease. But the best brands don’t need to overdo it with complex designs, strong visual branding is often found in the simplest forms.
It may seem like a simple process to take a piece from conception to completion, but there are actually several steps. How easy it is to progress from one step to another, or more importantly how long it takes you to progress often comes down to the quality of the brief, and how inspired you feel as a designer. This isn’t something always within the designer’s control.
Even if a graphic designer thinks they’ve followed a brief to the letter, are happy with their work and are confident it’s what is right for the project – it still might get passed back to them. As a graphic designer you have to buy into a shared vision for a project, and often that means putting your own personal tastes and opinions to one side. Far from easy.
If you’re in need of graphic design services, we can help! We’re branding experts and work with you to get your piece ready with unlimited revisions. Get in touch to start your project.