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Graphic Design, Branding Initiatives, and Marketing: A Research Paper

Updated on September 3, 2019
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Rhylee Suyom has hopped in three different worlds: the academe, the corporate, and the media. He enjoys being with nature and his family.

Graphic Design and Branding

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Graphic Design, Branding Initiatives, and Marketing: A Research Paper

When one hears the term graphic design, it seems to be quite daunting. Individuals have the impression that graphic design entails a lot of work, efforts, time, dedication and expertise. That outlook towards graphic design is quite appropriate as it serves significant purposes to various fields and industries. But what is graphic design? Graphic design is also called communication design. It is an application of one’s art when one aims to project ideas and experiences using visuals, graphics and text. Graphic design can either be of physical form or can be displayed virtually (Cezzar, 2017).

All about Graphic Design

People might be misled in thinking that graphic design is basically an illustration. The stark difference is that a simple illustration is a straightforward drawing that originated from a thought or idea. Whereas, a graphic design is the fusion of illustrations, pictures to convey an idea or group of ideas. For instance, a furniture creator makes a piece of house fixture for a agenda whilst an interior designer studies how all things and spaces produce an environment for the people of that specific home (Cezzar, 2017).

History books narrate that this type of art form is one of the world’s ancient crafts. Graphic design originated from Egyptian hieroglyphs and thousand years old paintings found on prehistoric caves and underground formations. The term actually came from the 1920s’ print industry and it includes a vast array of activities linked to arts and crafts. It combines the use of aesthetic appeal and marketing and typically entices people to images, hues and typography. Graphic designers do not simply construct beautiful designs, they also prioritize the usability of space that surrounds that design. Moreover, their selection of aesthetics must lead to a specific agenda. The graphic designs must be supremely attractive and pleasant to the eyes and has vital meaning and purpose.

As Paul Armstrong shared in his own article, the main purpose of a graphic design is for the communication of an objective, a desired action, response or an intended experience. The methodologies may differ from each designer to another and the materials may change from each set goal of a designer but there will be an end goal. But it is not only the goal which matters in creating an effective graphic design. It also boils down to knowing and understanding your intended audience. The design will never be about the designer’s own preferences or purposes. It will always be about one’s audience (Armstrong, 2017).

Branding and Its Power

Graphic design is one of the most significant elements in branding strategies. But before it can be understood why graphic design plays an important role in a company’s branding campaign, it is critical to learn the definition of branding. Branding is a practice found in marketing in which an organization makes a name, symbolism or design that can be automatically identified to the company (Smithson, 2015). It gives the organization the capacity to link their products and services to their name. It does not only guarantee that consumers will remember them, but it will also provide their target consumers a set of expectations for the company’s offerings.

It is also the business entity’s preferred positioning amid their competitors and business rivals. Furthermore, branding promotes your edge over other products that are available in the market. The company’s brand is believed to their true representation, of what their business is all about, their values and core principles as well as their mission and vision of their organization (Smithson, 2015).

Branding can also be defined as the process of making a distinctive name and image for a product or service. The embodiment of this method can be executed through various advertising campaigns that carry a consistent over-all theme. Branding has the ultimate objective of establishing a blatant and clear differentiation of a product. service or even a company in the market. This differentiated positioning against other companies has the purpose of attracting new consumers and retaining the loyalty of current customers whilst fulfilling the promised benefits and use of the product or service (Marion, 2015). Additionally, branding gives value to a organization by enforcing and molding the brand in the consumers’ mind.

Furthermore, branding does not only immensely influence the consumers’ choice of a product or service. A company’s brand also affects the organization’s employees, its shareholders and third-party partners and affiliates. Ultimately, branding also sets the company’s reputation. In line with this thought, any person who works for that company and with that company is affected with any wins and losses, good or bad reviews towards that business group (Marion, 2015). For example, a formal news website will not work with a porn site as an advertiser because it may offend any conservative or traditional consumers, especially those who highly regard Christian values and the welfare of their children. Association to a company is very important in the business group due to the significance of untarnished reputation to the society.

There are numerous reasons behind the importance of branding for companies. Aside from the obvious purposes of creating new business and alleviating brand awareness in the community, branding provides the company its much needed recognition. A logo is the prime identifying symbol for a company. It is likewise the face of the organization. Understandably, it is the best foot forward of a company to its target consumers. A logo should be powerfully designed and must make a company memorable and unique in the eyes of the customers. Branding also promotes business value and fosters the employees’ affiliation with its employer company. If a company’s brand is recognized as highly valued when compared to its competitors, the employees has this pride and satisfaction of belonging to an acclaimed and renowned organization (Smithson, 2015).

Aside from increasing the company’s brand value, it also evokes the consumers’ sense of trust to the business entity (Smithson, 2015). A company builds its reputation as its customers invests their trust to the brand. Without trust to the company’s commitment to deliver quality products and services, there will be no customer loyalty or repeating customers. The right process of branding leads to customers having that strong faith for a brand which convinces them to support the brand for a long period of time. Fundamentally, branding heavily supplements advertising (Smithson, 2015). Advertising campaigns will encapsulate the brand as a whole and its desired imaging to the consumers. If the brand has a strong reputation and has a clear identification, it will be easier to formulate and implement advertising strategies.

When working on a company’s brand, a brand strategist or manager must first determine their target market. Knowing one’s intended customers will lead the company to the right direction of its branding efforts. A company must know its target market inside out, its general profile, lifestyle habits, behavioral statistics, interests and preferences. Reviewing the legalities when developing a brand is also critical as there is high risk of being confronted by impostors or other fake brands (Sorensen, 2018). A company would want to steer clear of legal disputes or impediments that will likely affect their sales of their products and services. There is a great need to protect the brand and the consumers from being muddled with other companies in the market.

The logo and colors are also relevant when creating a brand. The selection of logo and color schemes should be simplistic and viewer-friendly but effective enough to drive a company’s name to the people’s consciousness. The logo is the foundation of the company and any good brand strategies must exert careful thought on deciding the best logo to use. Moreover, the choice of taglines, captions or commercial jingles can also make or break a company’s brand (Sorensen, 2018). There are many instances in the marketing and advertising world that a company missed in their goal to sell a certain product because of poorly created elements within a commercial. The taglines and accompanying commercial music must be cohesive and fully unified in one goal, that is to attract the viewer to purchase the product. It must not annoy, disorient or bewilder the audience of what the product is all about.

Lastly, selecting one’s endorser must be carefully analyzed. Brand association is a significant element in business. Identifying one’s brand with a celebrity that has a questionable reputation will directly affect the brand in the long run (Sorensen, n.d.). This is the reason of many contract clauses of big companies with their celebrity endorsers. The business organizations must protect their name and reputation from being besmirched and dragged into the unforeseen scandals and intrigues that the media may link to a celebrity endorser. For example, if a celebrity endorser is accused of sexual harassment, that is a serious problem for the company. Any business entity would not want to be associated with a vile crime such as sexual harassment regardless of its products and services.

Aside from these cited factors, business owners should pay a great deal of attention and efforts in producing the brand strategy. An organization’s brand strategy combines the what, when, where, how and to whom you intend to deliver your message as a brand. Determining one’s brand is likened to a business owner’s journey of self-discovery and realization of one’s vision-mission. It is crucial to know the company’s prime mission as well as the benefits and features of the business’ products and services. It is imperative to reflect on the current perspective of the company’s customer and client prospects towards your group and market offerings. Moreover, it is paramount to realize the qualities that an organization envision to exude to their customers (Branding, 2018).

Once a company has its brand messaging down pat and their selection of brand is tightly embedded to all the facets of their business, it is extremely necessary to be true to the brand and to be consistent in upholding that brand over time and across the globe (Branding, 2018). Truthfulness and consistency are important in every human relationship. And if one will reflect on how a seller connects with a buyer, it can be likened to any human relationship that involves trust and respect. A company that is truthful in their dealings with their clients and consistent in their interaction with their customers will also earn the much-coveted integrity that any business organization aspires to possess.

The Marketing Umbrella

The other business practice that takes advantage of graphic design is marketing. Marketing is the company's’ process of convincing people to pick their product or service among hundreds of brands available in the market. It includes making a product or service and determining the target market of the product or service. It also involves promoting the company’s offerings as well as distributing these products and services to their appropriate selling channels (Lake, 2018).

Marketing has the 4 Ps: Product, Price, Promotion and Place. When companies conceptualize their products, they conduct procedures to assess if their marketing offerings are salable. The idea stage is the first phase wherein the idea for the market offering is born. Usually, marketing departments experiment on new product ideas with various focus groups and surveys to check the selling factor of a product. If the commercial appeal of the product is high, the company will offer the product to the market on a limited basis. If the sale of that said product will have high sales, the offerings will be offered to a wider market of consumers (Lake, 2018).

The main questions that a marketing team must answer before committing to sell a product usually revolve around the identification of the target market and if there is a market for their product idea. Moreover, the team must also think about the kind of messages that will probably hike up the product sales and the most suitable platforms for the products. Commonly, the company will also expect their product developers to continue analyzing the need to modify or change their products as they sell these items to the market. The need for alteration or product upgrades is dictated by the sales performance of the products in the market. These areas of thought are usually given much attention to by the marketers so that they can fully decipher the cause of demand for their products and the factors which can strengthen or weaken the said demand (Forsey, 2018).

With these tests on the product offerings to the market, the price is also included. The companies assess the optimal price that a product can obtain from the market. Some business owners strategically set their prices that are within the price ranges of their direct competitors in the market. Understandably, the companies set their prices not only in comparison with their business rivals, but they also consider the expenses incurred in developing their product. A product’s price can spell the success or the failure of a product. This is the reason many companies are careful in placing their prices on their market offerings, especially those items that are newly offered in the market (Lake, 2018).

As for promotion, this refers to printed promotional materials such as brochures and leaflets, advertisements and all other data that the businesses make use of in luring customers to support their brand. The last P pertains to place which is where the products are distributed via various channels. The companies will study the best approach in distributing their products, whether it would be a local product or if it can be distributed to international or global markets. Marketing has three primary objectives. First, it has the intention of getting attention from its target market. Secondly, it expedites the prospective customer’s buying decision. And lastly, marketing gives the consumer the opportunity to take a low-risk and convenient and effortless action (Lake, 2018).

There are thousands of insights and ideas about marketing. But one of the most meaningful definitions pertaining to this concept is that marketing is the purposive communication of a company of their products and services. It has the ultimate objective to influence people’s purchasing decisions. If an organization aims to be deliberate and conscious of delivering their message to their intended target market, they need to fully know the ins and outs of their products and services. Moreover, they must totally realize their offerings’ unique proposition to the market. They must wear the customer’s hat and have the utmost knowledge of why an individual will choose to buy their brand among others.

Aside from the reason of consumer purchase, they must learn the benefits of the product to a consumer or the experiential value that their product provides to a client. Furthermore, companies must understand the real human need that they are fulfilling when they deliver their product or service to a person. Lastly, a customer buys an item to solve a problem. Companies must know the problem that they are providing solution for to the consumer. Once a business owner was able to answer these points, that is when they can truly realize the value of their product and service. If a company learns and comprehend the true value they are offering to their consumers, they can discover and execute the best marketing strategies they can employ to reach their goals.

Impact of Graphic Design to Branding Initiatives and Marketing

After fully understanding the concepts of graphic design, branding and marketing, one can begin to fathom the impact of graphic design to both business practices. As graphic design exists in every company flyer or brochure, website and company mail, it can enable a company to be totally synchronized with its branding initiatives (Paunovic, 2013). Likewise, graphic design can make a company harmonious with its main message to its audience. It can lead to a business entity’s effective formation of its solid corporate identity. Having a tenacious and robust brand identity can reinforce the business group’s drive to its chosen mission.

Graphic design plays a pivotal role for visual branding. It displays the visual representation of a brand as well as the message that the company aspires to portray. Being transparent with one’s message and being coherent with all the elements of one’s branding are essential when formulating a brand campaign. If the visual facets are not congruent with the company’s goal and its vision-mission, the organization will fail to convince the audience the truth of its message. Furthermore, the visual aspect of branding which graphic designers produce lets the consumers feel a connection with a brand (Paunovic, 2013). Words cannot solely suffice when promoting a brand and its myriad of products and services. People have different ways to take in information and most individuals usually respond to visual stimulation. If the sense of vision is satisfied, it is almost ascertained that the consumers will consider the company as one of its top of mind brands.

Usually, the graphic design has an undeniable effect on the profitability of rolled-out marketing campaigns. For instance, an alteration of font or color can aid in driving a more cohesive and effective sales slant to an audience. It can also lead to increased views (Paunovic, 2013). This principle is utterly applied to eCommerce sites. They conduct AB (alpha beta) tests to see which design best promotes the product or service from their website or which version elicits viewership or visits thus leading to conversions and revenue (Paunovic, 2013).

To be more specific, a brand’s graphic design can even influence the outlook of the consumers on the brand’s gender perceptions and preference. A research paper was created by a group of academics about this subject. They studied the effects of brand design elements on a brand’s gender image and equity. The following brand design elements that were examined by the paper writers are the names, symbols, signs that are associated with the brand. These elements also involve the brand name, logo shape, color, and text font. Particularly, the shape and size used in creating the logo may depict if the brand serves masculine or feminine perceptions or if it appeals to men or women consumers. For example, heavier or more angular logo evokes maleness whilst a slimmer and rounder-shaped logo intensifies the female aspect of a brand. This ideology also applies to the choice of font. Finely written font styles such as Monotype Corsiva and Kristen are more associated to the feminine element of a brand whereas the solid, bold font types in the likes of Impact and Agency FB are considered more on the masculine side (Grohmann, Herrmann, Landwehr, Lieven and van Tilburg, 2015).

In addition, the paper also investigated the thought-process behind the selection of a brand name. Since the changes in language happen as an adaptive process and it also is linked to how humans perceive sound, the research also touched on how a brand name consisting of front vowels such as i and e are seen as more female when compared to back vowels namely o and u. Even the selected color was analyzed by the researchers in their paper. They also linked each color to either masculinity or femininity. Thus, with these various elements, consumers identify brands if it appeals to their masculine or feminine psyche. This gender-based association with various brands alter their decision-making skills in purchasing products and services. For instance, if the consumers want a durable brand, they will lean on buying a product that evokes strong masculinity. In the same vein that if consumers are looking for an elegant and sophisticated kind of service, they will opt to avail a brand that expresses femininity. The business owners must completely understand the psychological impressions of their brand’s graphic design and how these impressions may complement their intended brand image and identity. If one has a product catering to female consumers, the brand manager must not choose a graphic design that will appeal to male customers. This absolutely contradicts the intention of the product or service (Grohmann, Herrmann, Landwehr, Lieven and van Tilburg, 2015).

One of the most crucial purposes of branding is brand recognition. This principle has a more important role for consumer goods that are picked by customers at point-of-purchase in supermarkets and groceries. Since there are many product choices on the store shelves, having a stand-out product is the prime objective of company merchandisers. In order to enhance brand recognition, the graphic design must captivate the people’s attention to its brand name. It should highlight the packaging of the product and emphasize the name of the brand. Moreover, the graphic design must represent an authentic presentation of the product. The consumers must not feel short-changed or deceived when comparing the product’s design and the product. A design also aids the product to belong to the appropriate category or classification. For example, if a soap does not only cleanse but also whiten the skin, the graphic design displayed on the product should contain these two features: cleansing and whitening. The design will also ascertain the congruence of all elements surrounding the product such as the packaging, the promotional materials as well as the marketing and advertising campaigns used to highlight the product to the consumers. And ultimately, the packaging that each product has must be in coherence with the brand purpose and message to the public (How Graphic Design Boosts Brand Recognition, n.d.)

Graphic design is also very significant to the marketing efforts of any company. It is a primary facet of the entire marketing process. Particularly, graphic design is widely recognized as an essential element in content marketing. One of the most popular modes of marketing used nowadays by both major corporations and small to medium enterprises, content marketers utilize graphic design in their communication approaches to their target audience. Much has been said about the graphic design being more than just a set of pictures or drawings. It is appropriate to say that it is the art of communicating and engaging to a company’s clients. It is a dominant component to establish brand awareness and sway the customers to purchase one’s products.

It is mandatory to note the key visual elements in content marketing that the graphic design effectively delivers. First, the graphic design leads to the CTA or Call-To-Action of any business. It is a potent method to connect to the emotions of your customers. By securing a strong emotional affiliation to your customers, the company directs a person to perform an action. The actions may vary depending on the nature of the business and the business owner’s intent such as clicking a link, subscribing or giving a feedback or participating in any activities facilitated by the company. This response to an action will lead to future interaction and engagement with the product and holistically, the brand. The graphic design has that pivotal role of capturing a customer’s attention, influencing him to do an action and eventually, converting him into a customer. The graphic design must also exert efforts not to hinder the customer from performing the intended actions of the company. It should always strive to create a gratifying customer experience to the individual, with the customer thinking that he reaped more than what he sows when he performed an action encouraged by the company (3 Ways Graphic Design Is Used in Content Marketing, n.d.).

Furthermore, content marketers utilize graphic design when making infographics. They use infographics in their content marketing efforts due to the fact that 90% of data sent to our brain wiring is visual. It is believed that human beings give a more effective reaction when they are presented with pictures, images and graphics. The infographics triggers more interest from people and it also encourages a deeper level of engagement. Moreover, the graphics used in blog articles are understood better by the viewers than pure text. A person will likely prolong his dwell time on a website if the design is aesthetically pleasing and not heavily laden with text. Graphic design is utilized not only to provide a reliever with long display of words, but it is also used to stress on an important part of the article (3 Ways Graphic Design Is Used in Content Marketing, n.d.).

In the advent of greater technologies and insurgence of internet as a powerful tool to reach a wider and more diverse audience, marketers have turned their attention to the power of social media marketing. It is said that Facebook posts that contain graphic elements obtain 2.3 times more engagement. With the common belief that Facebook is the most effective venue for any person to disseminate their messages to a target audience, being relevant is crucial. Facebook posts must contain graphics that are new and modern. The same philosophy is applied to another famous social media platform, Twitter. Tweets that has text and attractive and interesting images are 150 times retweeted more than text-only tweets. When social media platforms are discussed, Pinterest is not far behind. The role of attractive infographics is very important in a social media platform that thrives on sharing (Ploe, 2018).

Considering the prevalence of social media in marketing and advertising initiatives of different companies, limiting graphic design to packaging and printed marketing materials are days of the past. Technology paved the way for companies to make use of graphic design to gain a lot of exposure over the Internet. It has led the business organizations to interact more frequently with their consumers and prospective clients. This constant engagement provided opportunities for companies to assess real-time data to identify which sources receive most of the traffic. The business groups can also see if they are able to reach their intended audiences and measure the degree and level of magnitude of the engagement and interaction. The use of content plus graphics can be successfully dissected and analyzed through the volume of impressions, reactions, comments. These activities can also be studied to determine if they are turning to conversions and sales revenue (Norcross, 2017).

There is a more immense appreciation and praise for graphic design when marketing campaigns are assessed by organizations. Since technology has given the upgrade for graphic design when designers produce portfolio designs, presentations, signages, logos, websites and animations, companies are now continuously putting in a lot of investment to graphic design (Norcross, 2017). With companies making the most of their ability to utilize graphic design in their marketing efforts and to review instantly the effectiveness of each graphic in the fulfillment of their marketing objectives, the business organizations attain more success in discerning which marketing campaigns provide the best solutions or most profitable results for their brands.

One major industry that presently reaps the rewards of graphic design in content marketing and branding is the hotel niche. The hospitality industry was able to incorporate technology, graphic and web design tools, content and creativity in attracting new businesses and retaining a loyal following of clients. Marketers recognize that content is king with quality content partnering with the graphic design in achieving their marketing objectives. Hotel bigwigs such as Virgin Hotels and Marriott are investing extensively in digital marketing to increase occupancy rates. The hotel companies can successfully gain engagement from their target market to clinch an edge over their business rivals. The hotels currently use their sites not only for their bookings, but it also serves as their platform to present their hotel’s amenities and design (Norcross, 2017).

Conclusion

Today, graphic design is no longer just about the aesthetics. A lot of disciplines and fields in the likes of branding and marketing have realized its immense value in delivering their message across an audience. Graphic design is an important part of a company’s efforts to endear their brand to their target market. Whilst content is considered the king, graphic design can most likely be regarded as the queen in the world of marketing and brand management.

And more and more people are also feeling the need for graphic design to look into creating art for the purpose of social impact. Since graphic design is a powerful tool for brand strategies, marketers and business owners, it can also be utilized for the benefit of greater good. Government organizations can market their advocacies through utilizing attractive and creative graphic design in their public announcements. Non-profit and humanitarian groups can encourage more support and volunteerism from the society if they start including graphic design in their calls for help and empathy. Graphic design can serve the common good if everyone will appreciate its power to deliver a message.

References

Armstrong, Paul. (2017). "Everything A Beginning Graphic Designer Should Know (Probably)." Prototypr.io, https://blog.prototypr.io/everything-a-beginning-graphic-designer-should-know-probably-b55d8e246839. Accessed 1 December 2018.

"Branding." Entrepreneur.com, n.d., https://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/branding.

Accessed 1 December 2018.

Cezzar, Juliette. (2017). "What is Graphic Design?" The Professional Association for Design,

https://www.aiga.org/guide-whatisgraphicdesign. Accessed 1 December 2018.

Forsey, Caroline. (2018). "What is Marketing? FAQ." HubSpot,

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/what-is-marketing. Accessed 1 December 2018.

Grohmann, Bianca, Herrmann, Andreas, Landwehr, Jan R., Lieven, Theo and van Tilburg,

Miriam. (2015). "The effect of brand design on brand gender perceptions and brand

preference.", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 49 Iss 1/2 pp. 146 – 169, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272832866_The_effect_of_brand_design_on_brand_gender_perceptions_and_brand_preference. Accessed 1 December 2018.

"How Graphic Design Boosts Brand Recognition.", Flaunt My Design, n.d.,

https://www.flauntmydesign.com/how-graphic-design-boosts-brand-recognition. Accessed 1 December 2018.

Lake, Laura. (2018). "Learn What Marketing Is and How It Is Used." The Balance Small

Business.com, https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-is-marketing-2296057. Accessed 2 December 2018.

Marion. (2015). "What Is Branding?" The Branding Journal, n.d.,

https://www.thebrandingjournal.com/2015/10/what-is-branding-definition/. Accessed 1 December 2018.

Norcross, Natalie. (2017). "How Graphic Design Is Evolving?" Forbes.com,

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/10/09/how-graphic-design-is-evolving/#64d5952e1ff3. Accessed 2 December 2018.

Paunovic, Goran. (2013). "How Graphic Design Impacts the Branding Initiatives and Marketing? “Artversion.com,https://artversion.com/blog/how-graphic-design-impacts-branding-initiatives/. Accessed 2 December 2018.

Ploe, Molly. (2018). "3 Ways Graphic Design Is Used in Content Marketing."

Tresnic Media.com, n.d., https://tresnicmedia.com/3-ways-graphic-design-is-used-in-content-marketing/. Accessed 2 December 2018.

Smithson, Elizabeth. (2015). "What Is Branding and Why Is It Important for Your Business?" Brandingmag.com, https://www.brandingmag.com/2015/10/14/what-is-branding-and-why-is-it-important-for-your-business/. Accessed 1 December 2018.

Sorensen, Karen. (2018). "What to Consider When Developing A Brand."

Business Dictionary.com, n.d., http://www.businessdictionary.com/article/432/what-to-consider-when-developing-a-brand/. Accessed 1 December 2018.

"3 Ways Graphic Design Is Used in Content Marketing."

Tresnic Media.com, n.d., https://tresnicmedia.com/3-ways-graphic-design-is-used-in-content-marketing/. Accessed 1 December 2018.


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