Create Your Graphic Design Strategy in 6 Steps

How do design strategies influence graphic solutions and why do they matter? Arm yourself with knowledge to devise your own graphic design strategy!

Graphic Design
Graphic Design

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Learn why it’s important and how to create a graphic design strategy for your business in these simple steps.


What is a graphic design strategy? 

A graphic design strategy is a plan of action that outlines how to use graphic design to achieve specific objectives. Strategic design is closely connected to design thinking.

Design thinking is a business approach of using (user experience) design to help customers solve real problems. For example, instead of focusing on how an app looks, design thinking will make sure that it also has a practical use for which a target market has a real need.

Or, instead of just creating a nice-looking graphic for social media, a graphic design marketing strategy will ensure that people get some sort of value (whether it’s in the form of information or guiding them to your website that can help solve a particular problem).

Ok, so design is important for the success of any business. But how do design strategies influence graphic solutions? We’ll discuss that in the next section. 

Why do you need a graphic design strategy?

Here are some eye-opening stats about design-focused companies.

  • They have higher revenues and shareholder returns (McKinsey
  • They get products to market faster (IBM)
  • It improves company culture (This is Design Thinking
  • It increases customer loyalty (Adobe

But aside from being good, design also needs to be strategic and intentional. Here are a few convincing reasons why you need a graphic design brand strategy right now.

1. Cost-efficiency

Graphic design can be expensive. However, when you know what to design and why you need it, you can significantly lower your overall design costs.For example, it can help you determine whether to hire a freelancer or an in-house designer. Or it can help you decide what specific skills you should look for in a collaborator, such as web design, illustrations, or something else.

2. Saving time

There’s nothing wrong with a little creative wandering. However, if you plan to create your own graphics, this may result in hours or even days of designing graphics you won’t end up using.A graphic design marketing strategy and a content plan will help you stay on top of your tasks, and make for a smooth and easy design process.

3. More creativity

Hang on, aren’t strategic documents supposed to be prescriptive and limit the number of options for greater productivity? In theory, yes.

However, when you have a clear art direction for your designs, it’s much easier to find the time and resources to experiment. Instead of worrying about how to make your everyday visuals, you can spend more time on gathering new ideas. 

How to create a graphic design strategy?

Design is very closely related to your business’ success. So, creating a design strategy is almost equally important as a business strategy. As we go through the steps on how to develop your graphic design brand strategy, you’ll notice many of them are general and similar to developing a brand. 

So let’s dive right in!

Set your goals

Measuring the effectiveness of design is never easy and without strategic goals, it may be an impossible task. When creating a digital design strategy make sure to set goals that are SMART, or:

  • Specific: it goes without saying, but to achieve goals you first have to have goals. When implementing a new design strategy, make sure you set specific weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual goals that will help you stay on track. 
  • Measurable: whether it’s the number of likes on social media posts or a number of new signups, make sure you include quantifiable metrics (even if, of course, these metrics don’t relate exclusively to design but also other things such as market research, position and so on).
  • Attainable: being ambitious is great, but keep your goals within reason, based on your previous experience and performance. That way you’ll be able to assess more accurately whether your design strategy is working or not.
  • Relevant: if you’re at the early stages of your business, don’t expect to double your profits overnight; focus on relevant tasks, for example building brand awareness and nurturing relationships with a handful of early adopters.
  • Time-based: give yourself a deadline to achieve a specific goal, rather than have a design strategy in place that predicts results “in the unforeseeable future”.

Create a memorable logo

A great logo is the foundation of a graphic design brand strategy. It’s important for your business for several reasons:

  • It makes your brand memorable: otherwise, you’re likely selling just another similar product on the market.
  • It makes you stand out from the competition: think of Coca Cola and Pepsi; the two rival drinks are very similar in taste, but you’d never mistake one company’s logo for the other.
  • It shows professionalism and builds trust: although it does happen that a sloppy logo stands for a great product, this is usually not the case. The companies that are willing to pay for a professional logo design probably show the same level of care and dedication to creating their products and services. 

There are many types of logos to choose from, and logo design is probably the area of graphic design where you shouldn’t be too focused on current trends. Favor simplicity over intricate designs as this will help you ensure your logo can stay relevant for longer. Think of what makes sense for your brand and adequately represents your values, offering and your customers.

good logo qualities.png

If you’re unsure about your logo design, you can always go back to these 5 basic principles of good logos:

  • Simplicity: A good logo is like a joke—if you have to explain it, it’s not good enough.
  • Memorability: If people look at your logo for just 5 seconds will they be able to recreate it from memory?
  • Relevance: A logo has to match the brand and reflect the brand promise.
  • Distinctiveness: Following relevant industry trends is important, but what makes your company/logo different from the rest?
  • Versatility: Does it deliver the same impact across a range of uses, from giant billboard signage to business cards?

Build a brand identity

Creating a graphic design strategy includes choosing basic design elements (compiled in the brand guide) that your design team will use to create brand graphics.These elements are:

  • Colors
  • Typography
  • Graphical elements: illustrations and icons
  • Photos: what kind of aesthetic you use

Choosing a color scheme is one of the most important design decisions you’ll make. You’ll need a professional designer on board to help you choose a combination of colors based on color theory and color psychology.

Typography comes in so many styles and variations that the decision can be quite overwhelming. Choose your typography based on your brand identity and intended purpose. For example, since Facebook started out as a fun college social media, you might think that a youthful script logo font might seem fine. But if you consider the issue of legibility, and how this font will pair with others used on the actual platform, you can see that the crisp and modern sans serif is a much better choice.

A detailed brand guide will also include the type of graphical elements used by your brand. You may opt against using illustrations if you want to present yourself as very professional and corporate-looking, and instead use simple vector icons

Or, if you use stock photos, you should adapt them to retain a strong sense of brand identity. For example, we use some stock photo elements for our blog covers, but we add a duotone effect, in order to create a consistent unified look. 

manypixels blog view.png

Focus on user experience

How do design strategies influence graphical solutions? One of the key reasons is user experience.

The key to a positive user experience is good design. For example, using recognizable icons on your websites and landing pages can help people navigate through easily. Good website design also helps build trust and boost your sales, especially in the case of ecommerce sites

So, how can design strategy help you create a better user experience? Here are some tips.

  • Keep it simple: Remove unnecessary elements and streamline the user interface to minimize cognitive load (the amount of information they need to process)
  • Provide clear navigation: Make it easy for users to find what they're looking for by organizing content logically and using intuitive navigation (e.g menus, back buttons, etc.)
  • Consistency: Maintain consistency in design elements such as colors, fonts, and layouts across the product to create a cohesive experience.
  • Accessibility: Ensure your design is inclusive and accessible to users with disabilities by following accessibility guidelines (e.g. the right pairing of fonts and backgrounds).
  • Visual hierarchy: Use design elements like size, color, and contrast to guide users' attention to the most important information on the page.

Feedback and responsiveness: Provide immediate feedback to user actions and design interfaces that adapt to different devices and screen sizes.

Set yourself apart from your competitors

A necessary step in creating a graphic design marketing strategy for your business is researching the competition. Market research can provide valuable insight into who your target audience is and what they like. But your strategy needs to go a step further, and help you come up with something original.

An example I often mention is Slack. This SaaS leader conquered the market in a short period of time thanks to design thinking. 

The company CEO Stewart Butterfield had the idea for Slack after he surveyed a number of companies about what tools they were using for internal communication and the majority replied “nothing”. Butterfield correctly identified the real problem (it wasn’t that they weren’t using anything, it just wasn’t one platform or software), and an all-one workplace communication tool.

slack quote.png

The second reason why Slack became so successful was high-quality design. First, it has a colorful brand identity and a vibrant, colorful interface that set it apart from old email tools. More importantly, it offers a great user experience including simple integration with a number of other tools.

When you think about it, Slack is a dead-simple chat tool. But it managed to knock the competition out of the park with great design.

Design a great marketing campaign

Although you’ll be creating marketing campaigns regularly, and they will have different objectives, it’s important to include them in drafting your graphic design marketing strategy.

The main questions you want to answer at this stage are:

  • What marketing channels are you going to use?
  • What tone of voice will you use in marketing?
  • What will be the visual language for your customers?

Let’s dive a bit deeper into all of these.

Marketing channels

It goes without saying that you’ll need different skills and resources to create a blog post, YouTube tutorial and a Facebook post. You need to consider what channels make sense for you and what your budget is?

With so many digital platforms out there, it’s best to focus on a few effective ones. For example, Instagram is probably the most popular social media platform at the moment, even though Facebook still has more users. 

Can you hire a professional motion graphics designer full-time, or is this something you’ll reserve for special campaigns and occasions?)

Tone of voice

Determining the tone of voice is, technically speaking, a part of brand identity creation. However, on a day-to-day basis you’ll mostly be using this in marketing. Knowing whether your tone of voice is friendly and professional, or goofy and fun will help designers work more effectively when creating marketing materials.

Visual language

Graphic design can greatly improve storytelling. So, your graphic design marketing strategy should establish how you use storytelling. Do you stick to informative infographics? Or will you use lots of emojis on typically verbal media, such as X?

An example we like to mention are these highly effective ads created by Durex. As a condom manufacturer the product’s visual representation could easily face censorship. However, they found a way to represent their products in a simple and effective way.

durex 1.jpg
durex 2.jpg

The next step: implementing your design strategy

Once you have your long-term design goals properly set up, you’ll need to find a way to get graphic design for your business. The good news is that whatever your budget and your needs, there’s likely a suitable solution out there for you.

If you want something that’s simple, affordable, reliable and fast (yep, all those things), make sure to check out ManyPixels. We work with clients from all over the world daily to deliver tailor-made designs. 

The subscription-based model means you get all your designs at a flat monthly rate. Whether you want us to develop a visual identity for your brand, or help you stay on top of your content calendar - we’ve got you covered! Our service also includes unlimited requests and revisions, as well as assistance from professional project managers, so you can be sure all your designs will be 100% to your satisfaction.

Book a call with us and get a free consultation about your design needs.

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.

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