Although the term ‘graphic design’ has only been around since the 1920s, the art form itself has been an important part of visual communication for thousands of years. We can see early examples of graphic design in ancient manuscripts and even prehistoric cave paintings.

Today, the graphic design industry spans many different disciplines and specialisations. It’s an exciting field that’s perpetually evolving, but its adaptive nature can make it a little confusing for a newcomer to understand exactly what graphic design is and what types of work professionals do.

What is graphic design in simple terms?

Graphic design is the practice of composing and arranging the visual elements of a project. Designing the layout of a magazine, creating a poster for a theatre performance, and designing packaging for a product are all examples of graphic design.

In fact, almost everyone today practices some form of graphic design in their daily life — whether it’s adding text to an image for social media or colour-coding a spreadsheet for work. Basically, if you’re creating visual content, you’re practicing some form of graphic design.

What is the main purpose of graphic design?

The objective of graphic design is to convey or enhance a message.

Good graphic art streamlines communication. Just picture a spreadsheet with data analytics. A graphic designer might use different colours to highlight which metrics are rising and which are dropping, thus making it easier for the viewer to quickly understand what’s going well and what needs to be adjusted.

Well, executed graphic design can also elicit an emotional response from the viewer or even motivate them to take action. The ‘sign up’ page on a website, for example, is typically designed to entice visitors to join an email list or start a free trial. Meanwhile, food packaging design aims to make the food inside seem more appealing to eat.

In this blog we will cover Nine Types of Graphic Design

Here are Three of the nine of the most common types of graphic design to help you get your creative juices flowing.

1. Brand Design

Brand design is the practice of setting guidelines and best practices for a company to use across all branded materials to ensure a consistent brand identity. Brand designers help communicate the personality, tone, and core messaging of a company, so this work involves a lot of strategy. 

Brand design work includes but is not limited to:

  • Designing logos and setting clear guidelines for how they’re to be used
  • Designing letterhead, icons, and various illustrations
  • Selecting brand colours and setting clear guidelines for their usage
  • Creating or selecting fonts and typography guidelines
  • Creating templates that follow the brand guidelines and can be used by marketing, growth, and other teams
  • Packaging design and graphics for product design

Good brand designers should have an understanding of marketing design, web design, logo design, and many other aspects of graphic design because the decisions they make will affect all subsequent design projects for that brand.

Brand design is evolving at a particularly fast pace. Because as technology develops, brands are always looking for new ways to engage with their target audience — which means their brand design needs to support new and shifting channels. 

Designers often find themselves creating or adapting brand design for new and emerging platforms

2. Marketing Design

Marketing design is graphic design for marketing initiatives. Marketing designers may work on small projects, such as the layout of a promotional email, or large multi-faceted projects, such as designing hand-outs, and print materials for trade shows. 

Marketing designers may work on visual design for:

  • emails
  • newsletters
  • billboards and other signage
  • posters
  • print ads
  • trade show booths
  • physical mailers
  • website assets

Marketing design and brand design do share some commonalities, but where brand designers look to set the overall guidelines and messaging for a brand, marketing designers typically focus on communicating a specific message for a single campaign or even a single type of asset or platform

If we think of this in terms of fashion, marketing designers would likely work on at least four separate campaigns throughout the year — winter, spring, summer, fall — which would all need to adhere to overall the brand design guidelines.

3. Web Design

Many graphic artists work on visual elements that will be used on a website.

Designing a great website is a multidisciplinary undertaking because websites are interactive, rather than fixed assets like a brochure or a magazine. You need graphic design skills as well as experience with user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design which is why many websites are designed by teams of multiple professionals with complementary skill sets. 

Web designers may work on projects including:

  • Creating icons and buttons
  • Creating images, illustrations, and other graphics
  • Designing web page layouts
  • Creating various interactive design elements on a website
  • Creating videos and gifs
  • Helping ensure visual elements are optimized for all devices (desktop, mobile, etc.)
  • Working with web development, UX, UI, and marketing design teams to improve overall experience for site visitors

Of course, plenty of graphic designers are also web designers with knowledge of UX design principles and have created beautiful websites and mobile apps without the support of a large team. And thanks to no-code platforms, designers can create stunning interactive websites without needing extensive knowledge of coding.