For years, graphic design has been the only and familiar term people have used to express visual design. It can encompass the entire field of using visuals to deliver a message, or it can be used to discuss a specific, small part of design.
There are many areas such as as communication design and visual brand storytelling that stand in their own right as a specialised area.
Below we outline the job roles for a graphic designer, communication designer and a visual brand storyteller so you can identify which you need to get the most out of your project.
Let’s start with graphic design…
Nowadays, graphic design typically focuses on creating specific graphic or visual elements for use in a campaign, on a website, or in print. Some people may use graphic design in the context of layout and composition, and also use it to only refer to the tools of creating graphics, like Indesign and Photoshop.
Graphic designers do not typically learn about all the processes that bring a marketing project together such as photography and copyrighting which generally play a key role within the project or campaign.
Graphic designers tend to use the words and pictures sent to them by the client to create the visual artwork that encompasses the brand rather than handling more in-depth work of a communication designer or visual brand storyteller.
In summery, graphic design generally means the practice of creating visuals, as opposed to handling more in-depth work of a communication designer or visual brand storyteller.
If a graphic designer is a person who creates specific graphic or visual elements, a communication designer uses those elements in designing a strategic plan to communicate a broader message to an audience.
Their job isn’t just about the craft of creating stunning graphics, but about realising the power of what their work can communicate and then using that to its fullest extent. If a graphic designer was hired to handle one visual element, a communication designer would be hired to both create visuals and to handle communicating a company’s message to their audience. They would see the whole picture of the campaign from start to finish..
Communication designers may work in branding, advertising, web and app design.
Visual Brand Storytelling (VBS)
Visual brand storytelling is related to both communication design and graphic design. Where graphic design is a highly specialised discipline focusing on creating key visual elements, and communication design is a more generalised field focusing on developing broader messaging campaigns or strategies, visual brand storytellers can be thought of as existing somewhere in between the two. It is the practice of creating strategic visuals to express a specific message or tell a specific story to an audience.
Visual brand storytellers get to know, understand and embrace the core of a brand to communicate it effectively to their ideal customer. The work of a VBS is in-depth and can take longer at the start of the project to get going, but the rewards are more beneficial from there on as they can effectively tell an engaging brand story to win the hearts and minds of their ideal client.
In brief: Graphic Design vs Communication Design vs Visual Brand Storytelling
If someone tells you they are a graphic designer, you may have to ask more questions to determine if they are working in layout design, communication design or creating visuals for various uses.
If someone says they are a communication designer, you will understand that means they are creating strategic visuals that express a specific message throughout a campaign or brand.
If someone tells you they are a visual brand storyteller you know they will need to fully understand the structure and meaning behind your brand in order to create an engaging visual aimed at your ideal customer.