Graphic Design Types Explained (With Examples)

Get the basics of graphic design right! Learn about the 10 essential types of graphic design here.

Graphic Design
Graphic Design

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Every business nowadays needs graphic designers. But the first step to finding the right design partner is understanding what are the different types of graphic design and how they can help your business grow. Buckle up for a beginner-friendly lesson in the main types of graphic design!

By definition, graphic design is the art of creating and planning visual content that conveys a specific message to a particular audience.

In other words, graphic design is a very vast field that encompasses everything from creating the logo on a milk carton to the web page you're looking at right now. Therefore, it can be hard for business owners and newbie marketers to decide what are the different types of graphic design they need, to hire a graphic designer that will complete these tasks.

In this guide, you'll learn about the different types of graphic design that are most vital for any modern business.


10 Types of graphic design

Before you go to a hairstylist, it's good to find a reference photo online (yes, I'm talking from a painfully personal experience). Before you find the best design service for your business, you must know what are the different types of graphic design you need.

How many types of graphic design are there? It’s a bit of a trick question. You’ll find that some lists include things like stationery design and business cards under the same umbrella (branding and/or print design). Some may distinguish between publication and print design.

We’ve tried to make it as simple as possible, and include the most important types of graphic design services that you can request from a professional designer.

Branding and visual identity

Brand designers are usually more senior designers who develop the brand's visual identity. This is one of the broadest types of graphic design, and includes several areas of graphic design, such as:

  • Logo design
  • Typography design
  • Marketing design
  • Illustration design, and more.
Brand design created for a ManyPixels client

This should undoubtedly be the first step if you're a small business and don't have a developed visual identity yet. Creating brand identity guidelines will make subsequent design processes much quicker, and it will also make it easier to switch designers or services should you want to.

Advertising design

What's the difference between marketing and advertising, again? While marketing is a broader term that means promoting a product or service in a specific target market (including branding), advertising refers to a particular type of promotion through paid channels (e.g., social media advertising, PPC, print advertising, etc.)

Advertising design, therefore, is the creation of specific types of ads. With the consistent evolution of online advertising, designers in this field must be in tune with all the relevant trends and specifications required to create visuals for different channels.

It can also require skills in other areas of graphic design, such as motion design for GIFs or video ads. A basic understanding of copywriting also helps designers position the copy in the design for maximum effect.

Display ads created for a ManyPixels client

UX/UI design

Although often grouped under the same umbrella, user experience and user interface design are different.

User interface refers to the design of the look and feel of a product or service. On the other hand, user experience considers the entire journey of using a product or service, and is therefore also known as interaction design. For example, revolving doors are an example of good UX design that helps avoid congestion at the entrance/exit of a building.

But these terms are not limited to it, and these days, they are most commonly referred to in the field of web and application design.  This type of design is especially relevant in the SaaS (software-as-a-service) industry, so it’s no surprise that it’s become quite common for these digital companies to find design partners online.

It's important to remember that a digital UX/UI designer is not the same as a web developer. Designers create the look and feel of a website or app, and developers create code that makes digital media work.

Web design

As was already mentioned, a web designer is essentially a UX/UI designer tasked with creating the look and feel of a website.

Good website design is both aesthetic and intuitive. It's important to keep websites on-brand since this is often the first point of contact a potential customer has with your business.

As we all know, websites are also places to look for information. That's why part of a website designer's job is also creating information architecture: the order in which information is grouped and presented to help users navigate easily and find what they're looking for.

Print design

Although most people read their papers online and digital marketing spending takes up the majority of marketing budgets, in some industries, print design is still very relevant.

Numerous media outlets still produce physical copies of their magazines and newspapers. And things like album cover design and book cover design also fall under this graphic design category.

Finally, there are numerous graphic design examples in this category used for marketing.

For example, brochures and flyers are still very popular in industries like wellness and gastronomy.

Although print materials technically include business cards, we usually consider them under the broader term of 'branding design.' So, you can see how the question “how many types of graphic design are there”, gets a little confusing in areas like branding, print, and advertising design.


Packaging design

Branding design encompasses many types of graphic design, and this is one of them. However, since it requires a particular skill set, it's worth discussing in a little more detail as a category of its own.

Print designers don't just create the look of the packaging. They have to ensure that packaging adequately protects products and, ideally, is made from sustainable materials that are cost-effective to produce.

Packaging also contains UX design elements since one of the main characteristics of good packages is intuitive design. A famous bad example is packaging for scissors that require scissors to be opened!

Product design

Another graphic design field closely related to UX/UI design is the design of physical (industrial design) and digital products. In a broader sense, product design is the process of designers merging the user's needs with business goals to create products. It encompasses different processes, including prototyping and testing.

There are three main types of product design:

  • System design: such as the layout of a supermarket or store to help shoppers navigate easily.
  • Process design: for example, the onboarding process for a digital product.
  • Interface design: creating the look and feel of a product.

You can probably already see that this is a vast and complex field, so finding the right product designer will largely depend on your needs. Since product design is a long and complicated process, you might need to hire several designers for specific chunks of the work, depending on the stage you're at.

Motion graphics design

This is one of the most recent types of graphic design. However, it's already become increasingly popular with an array of examples for use.

In simple terms, motion graphics are moving pictures, from animated text in a PowerPoint presentation to feature-length animated films. As you might suspect, this type of design is often a lot more time-consuming than others and requires experience in the field, so getting it done is usually also a bit more costly.

GIF created for a ManyPixels client

Although you should be prepared to pay a little extra for this type of design work, it can be a worthwhile investment. Last year, over 54% of all display ads were animated, which shows that this could become the dominant format in the years to come. 

It’s also predicted that by the end of 2022, video content will make up for 82% of all consumer internet traffic, which means that this type of content is essential for your commercial efforts.

Environmental graphic design

Environmental design is a branch of design that makes spaces more beautiful or easier to navigate through. The designs created should be in harmony with their surroundings or serve a particular purpose in this context.

This type of design is often combined with architecture, landscaping, interior design, and urban planning. Some graphic design examples in this category include signage, office branding, the interior design of public places, and public transportation navigation.

Type design

It’s definitely not one of the most glamorous types of graphic design. However, all letters need to be designed as well, and they can make a much bigger impact than simply conveying the message of the text.  

For example, if you’d like your logo to be a wordmark, you might consider hiring a type designer to create a custom typeface. You can even trademark the typeface so that other people can’t use it (e.g., McDonald’s logo font is trademarked and called McLawsuit).

Type designers create fonts, font families, and typefaces. Each variation of a typeface or font, whether it’s altering the height and width of the letters, or adjusting the kerning (spacing) between them, requires the work of a design professional.

Logo design created for a ManyPixels client

Closing remarks: Where to get graphic design?

If you want to know how to hire a graphic designer that’s best suited to your business, it’s critical to determine what are the different types of graphic design you need. This will ensure that you can choose the best type of graphic design services provider

Freelance graphic designers offer high-quality, affordable design services with great flexibility. However, when you pay per project, design costs can pile up fast.

On the other hand, traditional design agencies offer cutting-edge design and design consulting services. Naturally, they also come with a higher price tag of several thousand dollars for a single design project. 

Finally, if you want to get all your designs done in one place, fast, affordable, and easy, consider trying out unlimited graphic design services. With this type of graphic design service get all the graphics you need in one place, at a flat monthly rate. 

With ManyPixels you can start for as little as $549 a month! Have any questions? We’d be happy to help

Journalist turned content writer. Based in North Macedonia, aiming to be a digital nomad. Always loved to write, and found my perfect job writing about graphic design, art and creativity. A self-proclaimed film connoisseur, cook and nerd in disguise.

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