What is Design? - The Long and Short Blog
What is Graphic Design as it relates to your business? We get to what performs best when exploring creative visual communication for your business.
design, graphic, creative, business, visual, communication, process, strategy, thinking, implement, efficient, strategic, golden triangle, designer, agency, memorable,
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What is Design?


ore specifically, what is Graphic Design as it relates to YOUR business?

You may have found yourself asking this question when exploring creative solutions for your business. You have likely done some research, but a lot of what’s out there seems vague. And now Luckily you have stumbled upon The Long and Short.

So we’ll cut through the crap, and get straight to it.

(Graphic) Design is: Problem-solving through visual communication.

Much of the general understanding about graphic design primarily centres around what is essentially the end of the process, the implementation of typography, graphics, and imagery. These are just the tools of the trade rather than the trade itself, and so leave no real insight into the true function and process. It’s therefore not surprising that you may feel a clouded disconnect about the relevance of design and how it can work for your business.

Knowing the full answer to what design is, will help you make the right creative decisions for your business goals.

Design is generally made up of 3 primary processes.

Identifying and understanding your challenge

Identifying and understanding your challenge

Identifying the creative problem and setting strategy will always be the first step for any project. It sets the foundation for the entire process. What is YOUR business goal? Who is YOUR audience? Who are your competitors and what is YOUR market position? Once you have agreed on these answers (and much more), the strategy can be formulated and guiding parameters set for the rest of the project.

Guiding creative thinking

Guiding creative thinking

The creative thought process from this point on, centres most importantly on solving the problem as effectively as possible. Inspiration and creative innovation will be driven by intuition, inherent knowledge, and experience, while all the time being guided by the agreed parameters of the project. This will ensure all proposed creative solutions stay relevant, focused and perform optimally for YOUR business.

Implementing targeted graphic solutions

Implementing targeted graphic solutions

Implementing the creative initiative in a competent and efficient manner is the third vital part. It relies on having a contemporary understanding of technologies and processes, as well as the design basics, typography, layout, colour and proportion. And having a tight grasp on feasibility keeping timelines and YOUR budget on target and in check.

Design’s 3 Process Working Together

Design's 3 Process Working Together

So what is the relationship between these three processes and the role they each play? For successful design, there is full interplay, as they rely on each other to be completely effective.

Creativity by itself does not have the inclination to be a linear process. It tends to be free-wheeling, and this is the reason that establishing the parameters by identifying the creative problem and setting strategy plays the most vital part. It will keep creative thinking on a performance based trajectory that will differentiate your business image from others and direct your project exactly where it needs to go to best achieve your objective. The skills and attention to detail that implement the creative are also important, as understanding feasibility, tools, and technology, bring an edge to creative thinking and quality of execution on deliverables.

The Golden Triangle of Graphic Design

The Golden Triangle of Graphic Design

So we have established that there are three core process to successful design, and these three together form the golden triangle of graphic design. Without one, or having one be weak, you are left with no golden triangle, and that’s where your design project will run into trouble.

Just as this graphic shows, if you have anything less than the three processes locked down, you are probably not getting graphic design.


Setting parameters: the professional would be known as a manager;
Creative flair: the professional would be known as a graphic artist;
Implementing design: the professional would be known as a desktop publisher;

And if only two sides of the triangle are covered your project will still run the risk of falling apart.

With parameters set and creative thinking, and without skilled implementation, the project will be badly executed.

With creative thinking and skilled implementation, and without set parameters, the project will meander and miss its mark.

With parameters set and skilled implementation, and without creative thinking, the project will unmemorable and unimaginative.

Design is guiding creative thinking objectively for the specific purpose of solving a particular problem. Graphic design, uses visual communication to do this.

So to be considered design, there must be evidence of these three process competently in play, and a designer will fully utilize them all in whatever design project they take on. Absolutely there are plenty of talented artists and managers, that are perfectly brilliant at creating art or managing projects, and they will likely have fantastic careers in those fields. But there is no cross over here. To be clear, just because they have access to certain software does not mean they are suddenly designers, they are artists or managers with a computer, and likely no better at executing design than any other person who is not a designer. This may sound rather harsh, but it is important to clear the fog here, especially for you as a business person potentially hiring a designer, that will be imparting visual communication advice.

The Short

So what is design? Design is guiding creative thinking objectively for the specific purpose of solving a particular problem. Graphic design uses visual communication to do this.

And having the three skill sets that make up the golden triangle of graphic design available for your project either with a talented graphic designer or through a graphic design agency, you will be able to achieve a project that is creatively memorable, strategically effective, and has the quality implementation.

This has been The Long and Short on ‘What is Design?’ We hope you have found it to be at least a little informative. For more chat on graphic design topics in the future, be sure to check back in with us here, follow us on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

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