What is graphic design and how does it differ from what you can do at home with your own software programs such as Photoshop, Publisher, and photos downloaded from the web?
The term ‘graphic design’ was first used in print by William Addison Dwiggins, an American book designer in 1922 to describe the process of creating visual communication. But of course, visual communication has been used throughout mankind’s history. Just consider the beautifully, hand decorated manuscripts from the Middle Ages. In the context of today’s society, graphic design is simply the creative process which results in a visual message for a targeted audience.
Oh sorry, did I say simply? Well this is where I need to clarify a few things. There is nothing simple about graphic design. An untrained amateur might end up with a disappointing, unprofessional look that is ineffective in selling the message. And will probably just download a few nice photos off the internet, which could lead to a host of copyright issues.
Professional graphic designers are highly trained individuals. They know what they are doing. They can create beautiful, witty, classy and astonishing visual messages using their skills, their experience and their understanding of the human psyche. The design world is their oyster.
A smart graphic designer can take a key image, and create a whole message around it with the use of minimal words. The human brain sees shapes and colors before it reads and processes written words. One of the most iconic billboard designs of recent times was Wonderbra’s ‘Hello Boys’ campaign in 1994 – one photo, two words, one logo. It was simple, but oh so very effective. A graphic designer aims to create an emotional response with their visual communication and this design completely hit the nail on the head: men could barely keep their eyes off Eva Herzigova, allegedly resulting in several car accidents, and women longed to look just like Eva. Kudos to the graphic design team who worked with Wonderbra – a simple design that saw Wonderbras fly off the shelves, no doubt bought by women who wanted the same cleavage as Eva, and men that wanted exactly the same thing for their wives.
The creative process of graphic design is a team effort. You need to work closely with the designers to explain the brand identity of your new business. This will entirely and utterly influence their design options. Remember that tone of voice and brand essence must come through loud and clear in the visual message. Wonderbra clearly pitched itself as a little fun, very flirty and their concise tagline, ‘The One and Only,’ clearly stated that only this bra would do the gravity defying trick.
Once the graphic design team is fully briefed they have several ways to create that captivating visual communication: Image based design – A compelling, powerful or light hearted image can make a strong brand impression. Images may be photographs, drawings, paintings or be created using top notch design software. An image with little supporting text has to carry the complete message and a great design team must use all of their creative skills to get this just right.
Typographic design – Here the main visual message is captured with words alone. But the designer’s expertise is in the style of the words, the size, color and placement of the words. A designer also knows how to use white space around the words advantageously.
Image plus type design – Often a combination of the image with supporting words is chosen. A great graphic designer will know how best to balance the two within the design to create that all so important eye catching end-result.
It’s fair to say that there is far more to professional graphic design than meets the eye. You see hundreds of professional designs every day on everything from billboards, magazines, product packaging to outdoor signage. They are all so well designed that you take it for granted. It’s only once you examine each with a critical eye that you start to appreciate the use of color, image and layout. And if you do stumble upon an amateur version, you will understand what this whole article is about. The non-professional designs just look….well, not quite right: unbalanced, unpolished, hard to understand or downright messy.
Trust me. When you are launching your new business, you need to work with a professional graphic design team. You get on with doing all your important ‘business things’ and let the artistic graphic designers create a whole new way of visually promoting your company brand to the world.