Graphic Design For Marketing: Best Tools & Key Elements

Whether you're designing for digital marketing, social media, or print materials, the key elements of graphic design help marketers bridge the gap between brands and their target audiences.

Written by
Alex Stewart
Founder @ Teamtown
Published on:
November 7, 2023

Graphic Design For Marketing: Best Tools & Key Elements

With all that encompasses the everyday to-do list of marketers, you'd be surprised how often marketing teams overlook the importance of graphic design for marketing. It's easy for graphic design to take the backseat when you only have a million other things to remember.

But nowadays understanding the key elements of graphic design for marketing and keeping up with the latest tools and programs designers are using to help marketers create quality content are pretty much mandatory steps if you ever want to succeed in any industry.

Whether you're designing for digital marketing, social media, or print materials, the key elements of graphic design remain consistent.

Having a strong brand image is everything, and you can't get much done without an experienced marketing team. Even the most experienced marketing team wouldn't be able to complete any of their campaigns without a graphic designer on hand.  

Any graphic designer worth their salt knows that creating amazing marketing graphic design isn't just about being able to throw together a quick flyer on Canva. And we love Canva, but maybe not for everything and you know what they say, if you love something set it free and if it comes back to you well, that's a different article.

To create truly eye-catching visuals you need to have an incredible understanding of graphic design principles and how they apply to marketing while covering a wide scope of design like digital marketing and print, both of which have their own subcategories we'll discuss later. Or you could just outsource a professional design service to take care of everything for you.

We'll let you read the blog first.

Graphic Design in Marketing: Key Design Elements

Stepping up your good graphic design to amazing graphic design could be as simple as aligning your typography with your brand message or applying color psychology to your next batch of social media graphics. Maybe you just have to refine your existing brand imagery or simply just create more!

Whatever new skills you're looking to bring to your portfolio we're sure to cover in the next section.

Typography and Brand Message

Typography is more than just choosing a fun font and using it for everything; to some, it can be an art form in its own right. The fonts you choose to use for your brand influence how your brand as a whole is perceived, that's why it should never be a split decision.

A lot of first-time business owners without a marketing team backed by a great graphic designer to help them out will end up selecting fonts that they like, but don't exactly flow well for the brand. It wouldn't exactly scream professional if a financial group used Comic Sans and only Comic Sans. I'm sure you've never asked yourself "What would the world be like today if Apple had gone with Papyrus instead of Helvetica Nue?". Hey, we can't all create our own typeface families, but what we can do is find a graphic designer who can.

The fonts you select will significantly impact how your marketing message is perceived. The size, spacing, and formatting will play an important role in not only the readability of written content within the design (to all our Script font lovers, yes, we're looking at you) but also the connection your target audience could have with it. You want your typography and your brand message to be synonymous with each other. You'll want to leave the office every day knowing when the world sees Helvetica, they think of you...maybe that's a bad example, but you get the point.

A lot to remember we know, which is why having a professional graphic designer in your team who's experienced in creating a brand identity from the ground up and already knows the design rules of typography makes the entire design process such a breeze.

Color Psychology in Marketing Design

Colors have the remarkable ability to evoke emotions and responses from consumers. In the world of marketing design, color psychology is a powerful tool. Color psychology studies how certain hues affect human mood or behavior.

It might seem far out there when you first hear about it, I mean, building trust with your target audience by adding blue to your logo? Is it really that simple? But as crazy as it sounds there's enough research to back color psychology's success in marketing design for centuries.

Theories surrounding colors and their array of effects on mood date as far back as Ancient Egypt, with the Romans and Greeks following suit. The Egyptians in particular would paint their rooms different colors to achieve different moods, like orange walls would help with fatigue or purple with the skin. But we have good ole Carl Jung to thank for color psychology being common practice in the marketing space, even though for his patients it was previously used as a type of therapy.

Nowadays brands and their marketing teams can use color to engage their target market, creating marketing and ad campaigns, that use the most visually appealing and eye-catching colors for their specific target audiences.

Understanding how and when to apply color psychology in your design can give you and your team the competitive edge to create content with crazy good aesthetic appeal and finish the quarter off strong. Maybe you'll even get recognition from your team for your bold design move. Come on, we'll say it, there's nothing like a win for you and your team (but especially for you!).

That being said you'll want to remember the same rule for any kind of branding applies here: it only works if it fits. Back in 2006, researchers found out that the strength of the relationship between the brand and its choice of color depends on the perceived appropriateness of the two. In other words, your use of color has to match your brand identity in the eyes of your prospective clients and customers.

It's all about keeping up that brand consistency, baby! So really thank goodness you have your trusty graphic designers on your creative team who specialize in knowing just the right colors to use to help you out along the way.

Imagery and Brand Representation

What kind of content writer would I be if I didn't start this one out with an age-old classic: a picture is worth a thousand words. Can you hear the birds chirping now too?

As cliche as it is, it's true, visuals really do speak for themselves. So when you're incorporating visual elements into your brand you'll want to choose what you want to say very carefully.

Brand imagery refers to all the visual assets and designs that make up your brand; this includes designs like:

  • Illustrations
  • Logos
  • Photography
  • Video & Animation
  • Typography & Iconography
  • UI Components
  • Filters & Backgrounds

Anything you'd normally see in a brand book would be considered part of that brand's imagery. Going as far as the colors you use, down to the shapes you frequently incorporate into your design. Everything matters and what matters even more is that your brand imagery stays consistent and cohesive.

We use imagery in branding to ensure we make the right first impression and set the tone for potential clients. When you define your brand imagery properly you can create a distinct style that sets you apart from your competitors all while showcasing who you are—telling your story for you and sometimes even selling your brand for you.

Take a picture, it lasts longer!

Digital Marketing and Graphic Design

Web Design and User Experience

Nothing will set you back faster nowadays than a poorly designed website.

But, unfortunately, it's not uncommon. We've all experienced a hard-to-use website and we've definitely all experienced hitting the back button and finding a site that's easier to understand.

Apart from making sure your webpage actually fits in the screen's dimensions (feel free to stop and check now that your front page layout doesn't have a vertical and a horizontal scrollbar, otherwise I'm sorry to say you can add that to your to-do list) or that the user interface is responsive and easy to understand, your landing pages should still be an extension of your brand.

Effective web design involves strategically arranging elements, navigation, and visual aesthetics to ensure a seamless user experience. No one wants to feel like they're deciphering a code while trying to find your contact page and I shouldn't feel proud after I've found your company's email address. (And you wonder why no one's contacting you.)

That's why having a responsive design and an attractive, user-friendly website is a non-negotiable if you ever want to bring in potential customers or keep up the reputation you've worked so hard to build. Still as great as you are at what you do you can't be expected to learn every design skill and let's be honest, website design is no walk in the park.

You might think you know exactly how the web landing page should look but lack the graphic design skills necessary to bring that idea to fruition. Luckily for us, with the need for well-designed websites comes talented website designers to help save the day. Having an experienced graphic designer on your team who specializes in website design is essential if you want to stay on your A-game.

Social Media Graphics

Just like your website, social media can be the first place you and your target audience meet and for it to be love at first sight you'll have to properly introduce yourself. And you should already know if they come here often.

It might seem like no big deal, posting to Instagram a couple of times a week, anyone can do that, right? But I think everyone nowadays understands to some degree that creating authentic and engaging content isn't as easy as it looks. With the amount of media we consume daily, we're exposed to a plethora of digital and marketing messages, and if it's outstanding marketing then we don't even notice that we've been exposed to it.

Since 90% of the information our brains take in is through our visual receptors, marketers rely heavily on graphic designers to create social media graphics that communicate their message not only in an easily digestible way but with visuals that stand out from the crowd. Working with the existing brand to curate a page that says exactly what you need it to.

Using social media graphics effectively will allow you to grab your target audience's attention and keep them coming back, turning a great first impression into a life-long recommendation.  

At the end of the day, it can seem like social media graphics are just another item on a very long list. We get it having quality content scheduled to post on all social media platforms regularly is no easy feat but you can't keep giving out a handle to an account you haven't been active on since before Twitter switched to X.

What a relief that regular social media posts are a piece of cake when you have a graphic design team to take the lead for you. Over at Teamtown, the marketing teams we work with have saved a ridiculous amount of time (and stress) by outsourcing their social media marketing needs with us. Being able to trust a designer with your company's visual branding and knowing you'll get exactly what you asked for the first time around truly is a godsend for marketing teams.

Email Marketing Design

How could we forget tried and true email marketing? No, really, how could we forget email marketing when for most companies it's the most effective way to gather leads, or at least that's what everyone says.

While it feels like we've been using email as a main form of lead generation for eons, we only started using emails to market to prospective clients in 1978 when Gary Thuerk, a marketing manager at Digital Equipment Corporation, sent out the very first email blast, or spam email, to 400 people using ARPANET.

Some people will say the invention of spam email was disastrous, a total mistake, but for DEC it meant 13 million dollars in sales, and for Gary, well, it means he's crowned himself the Father of E-Marketing (and a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records). Which you have to admit does make for a pretty impressive title.

Unfortunately, it's no longer as easy as it was then to get folks to click on your emails, and you certainly can't get away with just emailing anyone and everyone anymore. Now if we want anyone to read the emails we're sending out we need to put a lot more effort into it.

Designing appealing, user-friendly emails with a strong visual identity can enhance the email open rate and drive conversions through the roof. All effective email marketing design combines engaging visuals, well-structured and relevant content throughout, and clear calls to action.

Interesting and eye-catching emails are integral for digital marketing teams, so much so that there are courses that specialize solely on how to master email marketing, but few courses can teach you how to design these emails in a way that leaves your open rate way up. Luckily these are skills that most freelance designers offer but if you don't want the hassle of outsourcing a new designer every time, you can outsource email design through companies like Teamtown.

Print Marketing and Graphic Design

Print marketing continues to be a formidable force, despite the digital age. Well-designed printed materials, such as brochures, google ads, and flyers will likely continue to be valuable marketing tools for hundreds more years. Feel free to link this article next time anyone wants to debate man vs. machine with you, we can take the hit.

Regardless of its popularity print design relies on quality graphic design to transform these materials into memorable marketing assets that captivate the audience you're aiming for every time.

Brochure and Flyer Design

Brochures and flyers are classic, print media and marketing tools. Neither are going anywhere anytime soon.

All of your brand imagery is vital in establishing and holding onto your identity, print work, like brochures and flyers, is no different. Your graphic design team will know how to take the information you provide and incorporate relevant, eye-catching visuals while splitting up text into digestible segments so as to not overwhelm the reader and increase the likelihood of your message being heard.

To save on costs a lot of marketing teams will forgo graphic design in favor of creating the designs themselves using basic, user-friendly design programs, like Canva. And while this seems like a stroke of genius at first during the slower seasons as soon as it's back to business as usual they're scrambling to meet their needs; and smaller, but necessary, designs like flyers and brochures get left in the dust.

For a lot of teams this can feel like a huge mistake. A well-crafted brochure not only provides essential information but also visually represents the brand. Creative flyer design can make a significant impact on more than just your target audience and encourage the viewer to explore further.

Sometimes a well-designed flyer is the only marketing strategy you need and come on, your interns can't be expected to create winners every time.

Business Card Design

Well it may be standard in every brand book, your business card is still an important element of any marketing strategy. A well-designed business card isn't only an extension of the brand you work with but of the individuals that make up the company altogether.

Like the many different forms of marketing, your business card can often be a first impression, serving as a tangible reminder of who you are and who your company is. And, like all of your brand imagery, your business card design should align with your brand's visual identity.

You shouldn't have to be involved in the nitty-gritty design details if you don't have to. It shouldn't be up to you to decide between shades "Bone" and "Pale Nimbus - White". A great designer will know just how to use your marketing material and brand guidelines to create a design that captures attention and leaves a lasting impression.

All that's left to you is to walk into your next meeting, slide the business card you just picked up from the printer's that morning out on the table, and say:

"New card. What do you think?"

Packaging Design

For businesses that offer physical products, packaging design is the crux of their marketing campaign. Creating a tangible product means you have another shot at directly influencing the prospective buyer's purchasing decisions through the design of the packaging your product is in.

More than 70% of buying decisions are made in-store and 66% of people are influenced to try out a new product just because they like the packaging. Packaging design can be the last word in a marketing campaign, your chance to finally get the message across, to make an impact. The design of your product should tell the customer more than just what the product behind the packaging is, it should encapsulate both your brand as a whole and the feeling the product is meant to invoke.

When you create a product, you often create a lifestyle with it and you need to be sure the packaging you're graphic designing speaks for the product itself.

Graphic Design Tools for Marketing

With graphic design rising in demand, several tools have been released to help marketers and marketing designers meet their graphic design needs.

Industry-Standard Graphic Design Software for Graphic Designers

Professional graphic designers rely on industry-standard software like Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, offered all in one monthly subscription package. For those graphic designers that prefer a one-time payment there are other programs such as Affinity Designer or if you're a Mac user a lot of marketing designers use Sketch. These powerful tools offer advanced features and capabilities for creating high-quality marketing materials.

However, there's a reason people go to school to learn how to use these programs. As many options as there are, learning how to use them to create the designs you need can take years without any real experience. You might be able to find a couple of how-to videos on Adobe Photoshop over on YouTube but for the most part, you'll need to have more than a basic understanding of graphic design and design elements to understand the language these programs use.

Free and Open-Source Design Tools

For small businesses and startups with budget constraints, free and open-source design tools are valuable alternatives.

Software like GIMP, Inkscape, and Canva provide accessible platforms for designing marketing materials without the cost associated with industry-standard software. That being said marketers are limited with most free tools on the market today, so it'll be hard to meet all the design needs that a larger company can afford to pay a graphic design business or service for. And as your business grows, your marketing and design needs grow with it.

Tools like Canva or Designwizard provide a bandaid-like solution for graphic design for businesses that aren't quite yet at the place to be prioritizing the marketing campaigns that need real, fine-tuned graphic design. Hey, if it works, it works, but when the time is right don't skimp on finding a graphic design service that'll save you the hassle and provide quality graphic design.

Analyzing the Impact of Graphic Design in Marketing

Conversion Rate Optimization Through Design

It's no secret that an essential aspect of marketing is driving conversions and producing good graphic design can significantly impact conversion rates in all your marketing channels.

We've gone over the importance of using visual cues and color psychology in print marketing and we know how social media marketing is practically pointless without marketing graphic design to go with it. A well-designed website with engaging visuals (and that's on all of your landing pages) is more likely to convert visitors into customers. Likewise, emails with visually appealing layouts are more likely to be opened and clicked.

Content marketing and graphic designing go hand in hand, one doesn't make sense without the other. Whether you use open-source tools to create designs yourself, hire a freelance designer, or outsource your design through a graphic design service, like Teamtown, you're taking a step in the right direction for your business.

Brand Recognition and Recall

Consistency in design across all marketing materials is fundamental to building and strengthening brand recognition and recall.

When your prospective customers encounter consistent branding elements across all your different marketing channels, they're a lot more likely to recognize and recall your distinct brand identity. Remembering your brand leads to a better chance of potential customers having a favorable perception of your brand, increasing brand loyalty and encouraging repeat business.

Integrating Graphic Design in Marketing Strategy with Teamtown

Sure you can do everything yourself but eventually something's gotta give. Don't let your entire company struggle by playing "yes-man" at work.

Elevating your marketing strategy with the power of graphic design is within reach. Teamtown is your partner in integrating graphic design seamlessly into your marketing strategy. Our subscription-based design service is tailored to meet the unique needs of marketing teams.

With Teamtown, you can dream big and execute even bigger, overcoming design roadblocks and resource constraints. Our design programs and services empower your marketing genius to meet limitless creativity, ultimately driving the success of your marketing campaigns.

Conclusion

Graphic design is the silent hero of modern marketing, bridging the gap between brands and their target audiences everywhere. Effective graphic design elevates marketing materials, enhances brand recognition, and influences customer behavior.

It extends to digital marketing, encompassing web design, social media graphics, and email marketing, and remains a force in print marketing through brochures, business cards, and packaging. The tools of the trade, from industry-standard software to free and open-source alternatives, empower marketers and designers to create compelling visual content.

As design becomes an integral part of marketing strategy, the impact is tangible, driving conversions, bolstering brand recognition, and fostering customer loyalty.

Ready to supercharge your marketing team with graphic design? Discover how Teamtown can take your marketing efforts to the next level with the magic of vis