Discover some of the key types of graphic design and how to determine which kind of graphic designer is the best fit for your brand and business.
If you’ve ever picked up a pencil or a stylus and doodled a logo, you’ve dabbled in graphic design. But translating a doodle to a polished, professional brand identity requires skills many entrepreneurs don’t have. Successful graphic designers have a robust toolkit, a creative flair, and expertise in a number of complex disciplines.
There are many different types of graphic design that go far beyond illustration. Here we’ll explore the talent and skills needed for each kind of design and show you how hiring a graphic designer with the right skills can help boost your business or brand.
What is graphic design? 🎨
As the design landscape becomes increasingly digital, some types of graphic design require more complex skills. But these additional skills don’t dilute what graphic design is at its core: the use of visual cues to communicate a feeling and an identity. When branding a company or service, a graphic designer considers elements such as color, typography, shape, or texture to create a visual identity that aligns with a company’s desired audience and core goals.
Why is graphic design important? 💪
Various design principles come together to create a cohesive, attractive brand identity that will catch the attention of the desired demographic.
The importance of graphic design elements comes through in many ways:
1. Brand identity.
Graphic design helps companies stand out in a vast and competitive marketplace. Logo design and visual elements are vital in building a brand.
Many tools are available for Independents or business owners to create their own websites or advertising materials, but DIY graphics do more harm than good if the end result looks unprofessional. Potential clients are reassured when they see a well-designed poster or a well-coded website.
3. Audience impact.
An expertly designed marketing campaign doesn’t target the entire population — it looks for a niche or gap in the market and focuses on that demographic. The principles of graphic design can be used to bring in and retain specific audiences.
If a website features pleasant colors, intriguing animations, or interactive flow, it’s more likely to retain an audience than a text-heavy site. A company that demonstrates novelty and creativity is more likely to experience return business.
Now that we’ve gone over some of the reasons why graphic design is important, let's investigate a few different kinds of graphic designers that a business may want to employ and what each one can do.
Types of graphic designers 🧑🤝🧑
As with many roles, that of the graphic designer has changed significantly over the last few decades. Where one designer may have been able to fill multiple roles in the past, the rise of virtual spaces in an increasingly global market necessitates specialization in design roles. Projections in the United States show a growth of almost 30,000 new jobs for digital interface design over the next 10 years.
Here are a few key types of graphic design, what they entail, and how they can work for a business:
1. Visual identity and branding.
The basis for any of the specialized skills listed here is a facility for brand-building and visual identity.
Identity design skills explain how various visual aspects impact potential customers. After identifying the target audience, a graphic designer will curate a collection that includes a color palette, shapes, textures, fonts, illustrations, and photos — anything the designer thinks will resonate with the desired customers.
The deliverable for this kind of design is a “brand guide” — this document outlines how a brand will be presented across multiple platforms and venues, from social media to tote bags, while retaining a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing identity.
2. User interface (UI).
A website is a business’s most essential marketing tool in the contemporary marketplace. The site must be clear, intuitive, and functional across multiple platforms. That’s where user interface design comes in.
A website graphic designer needs to have traditional design skills (color theory, typography, etc.) and skills specific to the website format, including coding, understanding web traffic, and a creative flair for finding new and exciting ways to engage with customers online.
A web designer ensures that customers stay on a page. They may work with UI or user experience (UX) designers to create a stunning website. The primary deliverable of a digital interface designer is, of course, a website that functions smoothly and is user-friendly across different devices.
While eye-catching colors and fonts are impressive, movement captures visitors’ attention. Specialists in motion graphic design focus on interweaving animations or moving sections into a client’s website.
A graphic designer who specializes in animation balances creative skills and technical skills. Some knowledge of website coding is necessary to implement animations unless the designer is working with a technical team.
A graphic designer specializing in animation may be just one part of a brand team, working with other designers and producing animations that are then integrated into the company website.
Brand recognition and graphic design choices should be consistent across every venue, including product packaging.
Along with the traditional basic graphic design skills, a designer who focuses on packaging design will need some technical understanding of how such things are produced, including training in drafting software like AutoCAD.
Deliverables from packaging designers may range from simple boxes that align with a company’s brand to complex designs that both advertise and entertain.
5. Marketing and advertising.
A marketing designer understands how people respond to and interact with marketing materials. They should be familiar with both IRL and digital marketing, using all of the designer’s skills to entice and retain business.
Anything that clearly depicts the company name or branding, from billboards to business cards, is a marketing deliverable. Some marketing graphic design examples might include logo pens, tote bags, or uniforms for a sponsored sports team.
6. Publication and typography.
This type of designer focuses on mass-produced visual media, including books, magazines, and pamphlets. These specialists also need to have a clear understanding of the printing and publishing processes.
An Independent specializing in publishing brings expert knowledge of page layout, typeface, photography, and illustration — everything it takes to put together a page, then a series of pages, and then a published work.
This kind of design work once fell under the purview of print media, but it’s shifted to keep up with digital publishing. Aside from magazine and book covers, publication designers also work on e-books, white papers, and other virtual written communication.
Find a graphic designer today 🔍
If you’ve got a business that needs branding, there’s no better time to start looking for a designer than right now! Independent graphic designers, especially those with website experience, are in high demand, so it’s wise to get a designer lined up well ahead of your launch.
Find talented, professional graphic designers on Contra’s Discover feed. Contra’s commission-free platform guarantees the best experience for both Independents and clients. And if you need help getting started, Contra has easy-to-use tools to help you find the perfect graphic designer for your project.