What Is Graphic Design? (And Why Should You Care)

Graphic Design: The Basics

The top rule in communication is to define the terms. Talking is pointless if people have different meanings for what you’re talking about! From some outside source, you’ve landed on this site, and you might’ve picked up you that Creative Chameleon Studio is a graphic design agency. But there’s a possibility that you don’t know what that really means. I enjoy taking common terms and phrases and breaking them down so we all know what we’re getting into, so this post is going to be all about graphic design, and why you should give a rat’s bum about it. So let’s get into it!

When trying to fully understand a term, your go-to stop is probably the dictionary. Solid choice! The dictionary definition of graphic design is this:

The art or skill of combining text and pictures in advertisements, magazines, or books.


Okay, I don’t disagree with this, but since it’s my livelihood, I feel compelled to share all that graphic design is. That definition doesn’t really hit on why there’s skill, so let’s break it down a little bit so it’s easier to digest.

Graphic: a visual element.


Simple in definition, but vast in application. The Greek origin is the word graphe, which means writing and drawing. That has shifted in the modern age into the word graphic, which now more commonly excludes words. You know the saying “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” That is what the modern graphic is; a supplement for words. A graphic novel replaces most of the words with illustrations. You see graphics when there’s an icon of an envelope at the bottom of a website, and you know it means that’s where you find the contact information. When you sit through a Powerpoint presentation at work, charts and graphs will flash in front of you. You see graphics all around the world…but we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s go to the second word.

Design: arranging elements in a particular order.


You can put ten graphics and three paragraphs of text on a page, but it requires someone designing the page to turn it into a digestible message. The better designed the elements are, the easier the message is conveyed. This is why people hire designers, to arrange elements so the target consumers can understand the desired message better. 

As a designer, I’ve heard the common mantra that “anyone can design,” and that there aren’t any rules to design. Both those things are furthest from the truth! Believe it or not, there’s an actual science behind design and a vast array of knowledge regarding how humans receive information.

Rules of Design:


Here is a brief rundown of some of the things that go into play when making a good design.

As you can see, a lot goes into a successful design. There are books and books of how to successfully design anything, from logos to flyers to websites to packages. The fact that SO much has been written about it and there’s a science behind it means that there has to be skill involved to execute design at an acceptable level.

So, here’s our expanded definition moving forward.

Graphic design is the skill of arranging text and visual elements in a way that allows an individual to properly consume information in an efficient manner.


Maybe up until this point, you’ve walked around thinking that graphic design is only useful if you need a logo. Hopefully you’re starting to rethink that. But in case not, let’s look at the why you should care about it. Are you ready for the bombshell?

Because graphic design has saturated our world.


Don’t believe me? Take a gander through Walmart and try counting how many items incorporate images and text that were arranged in a visually pleasing manner. (Spoiler: it’s impossible.)

Jay Walker-Smith, president of the marketing firm, Yankelovich, states that we are exposed to as many as 5,000 advertisements every day. Add on top of that all the branding we interact with, i.e. the Apple on the back of your phone, the Golden Arches that never seem to leave the horizon, or the silver icon on the back of every car you pass. Every billboard you pass on the highway was designed. The yellow caution signs in a public restroom telling you that the floor is wet? Yep, those are designed. 

We can’t escape graphic design.

Which is great for me, because that means my job is always going to be relevant! But it also means that if you are trying to build a successful company, you can’t get away from implementing graphic design.

Your logo needs to stand out from the millions out there. Your ad needs to stick out from the 5,000 that we’re seeing everyday. We have an eight-second attention span. If your message isn’t conveyed and consumed in that amount of time, you’ve lost. (And way to make it this far! Unless you’re just skimming this article. Then slow down, take some time. This stuff is important!)


RELATED POST: 3 Steps To Improve Your Branding Right Now




Graphic design is vital to the success of a business, and I hope by now your view of it has shifted. If you want to continue to revolutionize your perspective, check out my series on branding, logos, and visual identity. If you like what you’ve read and what to spread the love, hit that share button! And if you want to become a Creative Chameleon and learn how to thrive in the jungle of the marketplace, subscribe for regular content!


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