How Startups Helped Graphic Design Evolve

Mmm... cookies!

By continuing to use our website, you consent to our cookie policy.

Privacy Policy
Innovative Startups That Modified Graphic Design

Startups That Changed the Graphic Design Game

Graphic design
December 16, 2021
9 minutes


Learn more about the startups that changed the way graphic design works in the SaaS business.

The digital marketing industry is relatively young, yet it evolves very fast. Just take a look back for a moment; you will notice how this industry changed the way we communicate, the way we work, the way we shop, and the way we socialize. We live in a digital era where technology plays a prominent role, and the graphic design industry is no exception.

Marketing and branding designers are a driving force behind the digital industry, and their ideas make or break the world of digital design. Since there are no written rules for graphic design, it all depends on their creativity and experience.

This industry is very competitive, and it can be tough to build a new startup and brand identity that will truly stand out. But this should not discourage you; many of the now top-rated brands started as small startups, and they owe their success to their team of designers that made it all happen with time. Remember, success doesn’t happen overnight.

This article will share stories of my favorite startup brands that implemented new graphic design game rules and will serve as excellent inspiration for generations of designers that will come.

Prodigious startups that successfully altered the graphic design game

Over the past decade, the digital industry went through a rapid growth spurt since smartphones took over the world, literally. Designers were tested since they needed to adapt their abilities to the new circumstances. This eventually led to significant changes in the graphic design field.

The following are a few notable startups that had the greatest impacts on those changes, here are their stories.

Slack: “Be less busy” Source: Pinterest

I believe that you’ve all heard about Slack, and I believe that half of you are using it or at least did use it in the past. Slack is a major game-changer in so many ways; Slack was never expected to be this wildly popular as it is now.

Little did you know that Slack was created only as a communication tool for a game development company. Long story short, the death of Glitch was the birth of Slack. So, Slack is awesome but what is their design secret? How did they win us over in such a short time?

Learn how design can help you crush goals in SaaS business

Download our SaaS Design Guidebook

Slack runs on your desktop, your phone, the web and stays in sync when you switch from one device to another. All the internal communication among employers is now in one place. This is why so many companies rely on it to get their job done. Slack holds everything in one place and no one before them created an app like that.

Slack features a minimalistic design yet it gives you the ability to customize your app to fine details to suit you the best which contributes to creating a friendly and easy-going atmosphere. The interface is so simple that even the newbies can cope with it in no time.

Great thing is that Slack launches new features regularly, so you can send scheduled messages at any given time and date (a great feature for those who work in different time zones), for example. Video calls, audio calls, screen sharing, one-on-one DM’s, channels, all are included in Slack. Source: Pinterest

Everything in this app is designed not only to help you work better but to keep you smiling through the workday. The logo bursts in colors while it loads, GIFs and emojis pop around randomly.

Every piece of copy that you encounter at the Slack app is playful and vibrant. Slackbot, your wise sidekick, is here to entertain you when you need a fun booster. Everything about Slack is unique and vivid. Source: Pinterest

Now you can see why Slack is a game-changer in so many ways. No one did this before them, and that is how they went from 0 to $1B in such a short time.

SEMrush: One-Stop The look of the new SEMRush logo

Most companies nowadays seem to be online, just like most of their customers as well. That is why, today, we are going to talk about SEMrush. SEMrush has become the principal tool for everyone who works in the SEO industry. This is an incredible all-in-one tool that with its wide range helps you to improve your revenue and the website’s online visibility.

Screenshot (31).png

This software is dedicated to making you a leader in your niche. This software nurtures simplified interface design, so when you start using it don’t expect to see many illustrations and colors.

Screenshot (29).png

The SEMrush dashboard is very straightforward, you will see quick proposals for your current keywords and traffic coming from organic and paid sources and that’s all. The overall design couldn’t be more simple and all they use are their brands’ colors to create their content.

However, on social media and their blog, there is quite the opposite look than the simplicity of the interface. SEMrush has a unified look at their social media and blog, using lots of vibrant colors and doodle illustrations. Their marketing design is engaging and very visual, so they can easily promote even their blog on Instagram well.

semrush 1 (3).png

The look of the SEMRush blog The look of the SEMRush Instagram profile

SEMrush user experience is rated 4.8 form 5 which speaks for itself. Also, you can’t deny that their logo design is on fire for sure.

Spotify: Music Never Looked So Good Source: Pinterest

Spotify started as a small startup in Sweden. The world needed a platform like this that offers its users free yet quality music and compensates the music industry at the same time. Quickly Spotify has risen to become one of the most popular music streaming services globally, but how did it accomplish such an impressive result?

The answer is by continually innovating and creating personalized marketing design campaigns. Spotify as a brand has developed itself so good, that there is no need for promotion. One of the key values of Spotify is playfulness and it is embodied throughout all of its work.

They are best known for their duotone images in flashy and vibrant colors that are suitable for their targeted users—millennials and gen z’s. Spotify’s 3D design makes them instantly recognizable but it also clarifies their identity. Source: Pinterest

Spotify is all about personalization. They create a playlist based on your mood, the music genre you prefer the most, and they take it one step further. They create a playlist for you based on your horoscope - it’s called Cosmic playlist. Source: Pinterest

But the crown of personalization is their Spotify Wrapped feature created by user-generated content. The Spotify Wrapped displays the user’s music preferences, shows their favorite artists, how many songs they had listened to over the year, how many minutes they spent using Spotify, and other details. Source: Pinterest

Since Spotify Wrapped is massively shared on social media every year, this campaign is an excellent example of free marketing since millions of people promote Spotify this way on their social media accounts.

Personalized marketing design increases brand loyalty and allows Spotify to show users how they are able to provide a valuable streaming experience to every user. This unique bond will make subscribers repeatedly subscribe to Spotify’s services again and again.

Intercom: The Irish Unicorn

Screenshot (74).png

Intercom is a Customer Communications Platform that records a major success; its growth and expansion often compare with Slack’s success.

Ten years ago, companies like Facebook and similar were all building their messenger services, but no one personalized this function. This inspired founders to create Intercom- the need to build a real connection with your buyers.

Screenshot (72).png

The intercom came in with its playful, raw illustrations and feel-good animations and they stole the attention from others in a heartbeat. They not only build quality customer communication products, but their goal is also to make business personal.

Whenever they can, they bring a human touch to the design and connect with their customers on a personal and emotional level.

Screenshot (73).png

The interface design is fresh and clean and pretty intuitive, and the users’ dashboard offers a lot of information yet it is easy to use. Intercom uses these cheerful animations to add some playfulness to their overall look.

Discord: The Centre Of The Gaming Universe and More Source: Pinterest

A few years ago, gamers used Skype or TeamSpeak to communicate among themselves while they were not in the game, but they just weren’t good enough.

They realized they wanted to talk to their game friends about everything, including games. Luckily for them, Discord just arrived with their simple interaction design and surprisingly fast connection.

See some of ManyPixels’ best design works

Get the ManyPixels Design Library 2022

Discords sports that true gamers aesthetic, dark background, white thin letters, similar to coding programs. Also, at first glance Discord’s interface looks incredibly busy and complicated. There is a list of members, moderators, patrons, and creators located on the right side and they are all in different colors.

The left side is reserved for servers, and in the middle is the space for chatting. This all feels and looks overwhelming, but having a layout this much organized is Discord’s main superpower.

Screenshot (62).png

Source: Dribble

Discord has a lot of functions and capabilities so having a complex design is really justified, you can’t operate on so many different servers and include all those features and maintain a simple layout.

What is surprising is how little impact it has on your CPU so it does not affect your performance at all. Discord is mainly built for gamers and streamers, so the great thing about it is that it has a Discord Overlay feature that allows the use of chat and text channels without leaving the game.

Discord distinguishes itself mainly as an app for gamers and every change they make in their design they try to accommodate to suit the best for their targeted users.

Wrapping up

It took these companies great effort, endless hours of work, incredible talent, and patience to stand where they are now. As I already said, this industry is harsh and very competitive, and only the best and most hard-working can survive, but the examples I mentioned above prove that all those efforts pay off big time. Use them as an inspiration.

Wait... there's more!

Enjoyed the read? Subscribe to our mailing list for all the latest tips, how-tos and news on graphic design and marketing.


Teodora Rauh

December 16, 2021

Privileged to be raised in the most beautiful city in the world, Novi Sad. Studied biology and ecology at the University of Novi Sad. A creative soul, travel enthusiast, passionate writer, and crazy dog lover. Proud mama of (for now :) ) one stubborn English Bulldog.