Graphic Design for the Advertising Industry

When tackling a graphic design for a commercial purpose, the first thing to do is listen to the client. Far too many designers get carried away with their own vision and completely ignore the needs and wants of the client. As a designer, it is your responsibility to interpret the client's ideas into a marketable design with imagination and punch. Some clients will give you only the vaguest specifications; others will point to an existing advertisement and proclaim "I want something exactly like that!"

Here are some things to think about.

Consider the environment

The approach to print advertising graphics will be quite different from graphics designed for the web. Print pieces generally stand alone, so your design will not be competing with other graphics on a page. For print, it is not your responsibility to be harmonious; your design must simply be striking. For web advertising, the designer must always be mindful of the busy nature of web pages and seek to stand out among the clutter. The most effective design can often be quieter than the surroundings, drawing the eye away from the chaos and into a resting place for the eye.

Range of color

While there are many schools of thought regarding color theory, one constant truism is "less is more". Limit your use of color to two or three at the most and use them strategically to best effect. Product, audience, and message should determine your color choice. Consider what kind of product it is and who the target market will be, and then decide what message the company is trying to convey. Sober, traditional colors like navy, forest green and burgundy convey a message of stability and trust and would be good choices for a lending institution, but to advertise a new mp3 player to a young demographic, colors should be hot enough to jump off the page.

Breaking out of the box

To make a focal image really stand out, break out of your design in some way. Cross a line. For example, position a big central image, say a person holding the product, against a two-color background featuring a curve. If the central image is on the curve, or the image extends above or below your "box", the design will jump right off the page. It's a simple technique to lend dimension to 2-D design.

Trends in advertising

Much like kitchen appliances - remember those avocado green refrigerators from the seventies? - advertising evolves, more slowly perhaps than fashion, where the trendy outfit you bought yesterday might be passé by tomorrow afternoon. It is a good idea to keep your eye on what's happening in the market in order to keep your design fresh and interesting. If your design is out of fashion, your statement will be ineffective and stale. New and innovative is certainly encouraged, but even new design must have some frame of reference to what's happening in today's market.

Reel it in

The mark of a truly inexperienced designer is over-design. Strive for simple, bold, and appealing. You are selling a product or service; stay focused on the task at hand. The one exception to this rule seems to be toys and video game packaging. If you are trying to attract children or gamers, over-the-top design and chaotic color is the trend.

Always remember that what you put out there is more than an advertisement for your client, it is your professional portfolio.

Schools Offering Training Programs in Graphic Design

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            Graphic Arts (AAS)

            The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started


            Congratulations! Your interest in California College San Diego is an important first step toward changing your life. A career-focused degree is the key to a new career with a potentially higher income, better benefits, and more satisfaction.

            Graphic Design (AS)
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Show more [+]
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Master of Fine Arts: Graphic Design
            • Liberty University’s online programs ranked in the top 10 out of more than 2,100 colleges & universities for academic quality, affordability, and accessibility.*
            • 100% online programs at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level.**
            • Transfer up to 90 credits into an undergraduate degree program.
            • Up to 50% of your master’s degree can be transferred in to help you get the most out of your hard work and maximize the credit you previously earned.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits

            Latest Graphic Design Articles & News

            Designers to submit artwork to wine label contest
            Graphic designers and artists are now able to enter the annual Artist Series Wine Label Design contest for The Capital Grille, and can submit their creations until October 7, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

            Graphic designers fighting against new design opportunity at Huffington Post
            The Huffington Post has recently issued a contest, asking graphic designers to create a new logo. However, the winning individual will not be paid for their design - they will only be recognized by name, rather than compensation, according to AdWeek.

            What It Takes to Be a Freelance Graphic Designer

            What Skills Will I Learn as a Graphic Designer?

            Putting Together a Graphic Design Portfolio

            Scholarships for your education

            What is graphic design?

            What is design?

            Does Graphic Design Apply to Other Fields of Study?

            Getting Hired as a Graphic Designer

            Graphic Design Career Options

            Graphic Design Course Overview For Your Degree

            Graphic Design for the Publishing Industry

            Graphic Design Schools and Universities

            Graphic Design Schools in CA

            Graphic Designer Salary Survey Guide

            How Competitive is the Field of Graphic Design?

            How Long Does Graphic Design School Take?

            How To Get A Great Internship For Graphic Design

            Networking in the Field of Graphic Design

            Things to consider before choosing a Graphic Design School

            Thoughts on Graphic Design

            Trends in the Graphic Design Field

            What Does a Graphic Designer Do?

            What to Expect in Your First Year as a Graphic Designer

            Where Do Graphic Designers Work?

            Who Hires Graphic Designers?