The phrase "Graphic Design" was phrased by a man named William Addison Dwiggins. He was a typographer and illustrator, to say the least, and coined the term in 1922. But the truth is Graphic Design has been around for a pretty long time, in fact, communicating through the visual medium can be tracked back to Rome's Trajan's Column, the Illuminated Manuscripts of the Middle Ages and even Paleolithic Cave Paintings.
The AIGA says that Graphic Design "is a creative process that combines art and technology to communicate ideas. The designer works with a variety of communication tools in order to convey a message from a client to a particular audience. The main tools are image and typography"
Now that we know what it is, let's see what it can do.
What's Your Message?
Imagine you're selling something; be it a product, a service, or an idea. Now imagine only trying to communicate it verbally one person at a time or yelling it through a loudspeaker. Depending on the complexity of your idea, product etc., it could be pretty difficult to get your message across. And that's what it comes down to. You have a message and you want to effectively communicate it to as many people as possible. How do you do that effectively? With Graphic Design. Through Graphic Design you can communicate your message in a visually stimulating, functional and memorable way using images, words and typefaces. Great and effective design is the product of creativity, knowledge and information.
The key word being "effective". Now let's see what Graphic Design has done.
Design Saves The Day
Did you know that without graphic design the Volkswagen brand would not be around today, in the U.S. at least? Some may disagree with me, but back in the 60's there was still a stigma on anything German after the war. Regardless, the Volkswagen Beetle was shipped off to the U.S. and it needed a campaign that would intrigue people to purchase the vehicle. William Bernbach (of Doyle Dane Bernbach) created the Volkswagen ad campaign that featured headlines like "Lemon" and "Think Small" to cleverly describe the car. Portraying the vehicle in a "negative" manner actually did quite the opposite. The car is now one of the classic cars of the 20th century and is still seen today all due to effective design. The campaign itself is highly regarded as one of the best and most recognizable of the 20th century.
A more recent example happened in 2001 with the launch of Apple's iPod. The brand was already known for thinking outside the box and advertising to creative minds and those who are always waiting for the next big thing. The company who had been using the "Think Different" slogan up to that point decided it was time for a tweak. Thus the iPod people were born. The campaign was seen in magazines, buses, billboards and television spots everywhere. It effectively and cleverly used silhouettes and bright colored backgrounds to emphasize the fun and excitement of owning an iPod and cornered the market in the portable media player market and subsequently started a craze for Apple products that will never cease, it seems. You never hear MP3 player anymore... you hear iPod.
Why Do You Need It?
That's the big question, right? Why invest in design to promote your products and services? The real question is "Why wouldn't you?". The most common answer I get is "I can't afford it", which leads to asking your 15 year old nephew with a crack copy of Photoshop to design you a flyer, which leads to you effectively digging a grave for your brand and your business. When you lack the materials that would otherwise present your business in a favorable and professional way, you lose more than money, you lose brand image.
Everyone Can Afford Good Design
For example, what is more important to you? How many brochures you hand out or how many clients or new orders you get? You could mail 10,000 badly designed brochures and get zero orders. Or you could send a thousand with a clear and interesting design and win a dozen orders. The difference is design. So unless your budget is zero, you can definitely afford good design. See it as an investment, not an extra cost…
Graphic Design can only be done by a select few, and even then only 50% of them are trained and know how to do it well. Isn't it time to invest in someone who can effectively take your ideas and visualize them in a memorable way to your clients? Design is a language you don't speak, so find someone who does. Or let your nephew do it.
A new year is on its way and it's time for a change. If you're still on the fence about design, I have only one thing to say, "Just Do It".
Do you have any success stories on what design has done for you? Did you see a change in how you were perceived by your clients after having a campaign designed? Do you still think design is a crock? If you're a designer or any kind of creative, show this to someone who doubts.