Types of graphic design

Types of Graphic Design

Learn about the wide and varied graphic design industry where professionals specialize in everything from branding to illustration.

↳ Annette S. & Matt R.

Deciding that you would like to hire a graphic designer is a big step in the growth of your business. As a small business owner, you know how to handle many things on your own, but design is something that may be out of your comfort zone. Fortunately, countless designers around the world are ready and willing to get to work for your business.

Before you put together a design brief and start your search for a designer, you’ll need to figure out exactly what type of designer your project requires. There are many different types of design projects and plenty of professionals who specialize in those areas. Finding the right pro for the job comes down to picking someone with experience and expertise in the precise type of work you need to have completed.

In this article, we are going to highlight a few specific categories of graphic design. There are others out there on the market, of course, but most projects required for small businesses will fall into one of these nine categories.

Brand Identity

Your visual brand is one of the most important aspects of your identity. It’s how people perceive you. People identify brands by the styles, colors, advertising copy, and logo associated with different business entities. Your brand is how people perceive you. Branding is the process and actions you take to create a specific image of your company. Visual brand identity is all of the elements combined to create your image.

Packaging Design

The design of your product packaging is just as important as the product itself. In my experience, many companies spend more on developing the product packaging than the actual product. The goal of packaging design is to attract a buyer’s attention and ultimately make a sale while sitting on the shelf with thousands of other products. To meet marketing objectives, packaging design’s job is to portray the product’s personality and communicate to a consumer the benefits and value of the contents inside and make a purchase.

Packaging design is not just the graphics, it’s the exterior of a product and includes form, structure, materials, imagery, typography, and regulatory information wrapped on a physical container.

Advertising and Marketing

The difference between graphic design and advertising design is advertising design is a hybrid of design and marketing. Advertising design is the art of problem solving, engaging, and persuading users to take action while maintaining your company’s brand image.

Brochure Design

You don’t need any introduction to the idea of a brochure – you have seen thousands of them in your lifetime. Often a tri-fold design, a brochure can really take on any form as long as it is compact enough to be distributed to your target market easily. These may be given out at trade shows, put on display in an office, or even sent out in the mail.

The value of a brochure designer comes through when trying to clearly communicate your message to the audience. You only have limited space available on a brochure, so the message needs to be condensed down to the essentials. The text also needs to be augmented by powerful graphics, bold colors, and an appropriate call-to-action. You could take the DIY approach to brochure design, but the end result is likely to be much more effective when created by a pro.

Signage Design

Often referred to as out-of-home advertising, signage design is about both form and function. While billboards are the most well-known form of signage design, small businesses can often utilize sidewalk signs, bus stops, and posters as low costs ways to expose your company to local communities.

A skilled signage designer is capable of simplifying a business into a witty visual identity that can catch the eye of someone passing by.

Web Design

This might be the first thing you think about when considering graphic design in the digital age. Your business probably has a website already, and if not, you’ll be developing one pretty soon. A quality website designer can help you bring a vision to life that is going to communicate your products and services with your target audience.

So, why is website design important? The list of reasons goes on and on, but here are the highlights.

There is far more value to be gained from website design than just the points above, but you get the idea. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a beautiful, functional design could go a long way toward building a successful business.

UI Design

In the tech world, UI stands for user interface. It’s important to properly design the user interface of anything that your customers will be interacting with regularly. While there are many possible uses for user interface design, this is commonly thought of with regard to apps or websites.

A great user interface is going to dramatically improve the way your audience interacts with your application. Investing in UI can pay off because users will be likely to spend more time on your site and they’ll be left with a better overall impression of your business. UI design takes on many shapes and sizes, but some common points to address include the following.

Mobile Design

Mobile design is the overall design of subjective experiences a person has while interacting with hand-held mobile and wearable devices. Interactions on mobile devices include apps, interfaces, software, and the hardware itself. The UI designer is responsible for the overall style of the apps, including colors, typography, icons, buttons, and widgets that people will use. People spend a lot of time on their mobile devices and there’s an app for almost everything.

Motion Design

As the name would indicate, motion design relates to anything that moves. Animated graphics are a great way to grab attention and engage your audience, and a motion designer will be able to bring those to life on your website or in your app.

There is endless competition in the digital landscape, and it is hard to stand out from the pack. One option is to put some of your graphics or text in motion to change things up and alter the way your message is delivered. For instance, if you are hoping to keep people on your web pages for longer to create a deeper connection, adding motion design should accomplish just that. Rather than quickly glancing at a static graphic before moving on, a visitor will be engaged by the moving design and will likely linger to see how it develops.


Illustration is an art form that interprets things pictorially or visually to clarify or demonstrate something. Illustration and graphic design are multidisciplinary skills, so illustrators and designers often switch hats. The main difference between the two disciplines is graphic designers rely on illustrations as part of a set of elements to work with, where illustrators create and produce the illustrations themselves.

Design Agency derives much of its brand and design quality from the talented skills of Ariana Sánchez an illustrator from Mexico City.

3D Design

3D design is an art form and process of using mathematical equations to make graphics come to life in three dimensions – height, width, and depth. It’s also an area of design that I wish I had further developed, but I’m not retired just yet. 3D graphics are used for 3D printing, prototyping, movies, engineering, medicine, manufacturing, industrial design, architecture, video games, animation, science, technology, real estate, interior design, advertising, marketing, and more. Virtual environments can be a cost effective solution by creating digital prototypes before physical production.

Categories of 3D Design/Modeling

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