Graphic Design Principles – Part One – Messaging

The primary purpose of graphic designer is to use visual tools to communicate a message. The design of a piece should not overshadow the message, in other words if you have a really great looking piece but the main message or purpose is not immediately clear, then the design has failed. Design elements like photography, typography and graphic elements should be used to visually support that message as well as get the attention of the potential viewer. For the sake of this article we will use this simple poster design to show as an example.

Primary Message

Whether the piece is for explaining a particular product or service or announcing an upcoming event, the main message or headline should be clear, concise and easy to read. If writing is not your thing, consider working with a professional copywriter to help you develop your message. In this case of this poster the primary goal was to get more volunteers for this youth outreach program. The main message of headline here is “Share your gift with a child”

Secondary Message

The secondary message or sub headline is there to support and further explain the primary message or headline. In this example the secondary message or the sub headline is “volunteer with the youth brigade program.”

Supporting Copy

Supporting Copy would include other parts necessary to the goal of the piece. For instance, pricing information, technical information, dates and times, contact information etc. These will usually be much smaller in relation to your primary and secondary messages. You can see here in this example the start dates and contact information are much smaller and listed towards the bottom.

Supporting elements

Supporting elements would include things like images, logos, graphic element etc. In the case of this flyer the design is very simple using one main image to support the goal of the piece, showing one of the mentors with happy children basically tells the story and supports the headline and sub headline, will grab the attention of viewers and does not distract from the messaging. In our humble opinion, although the design is pretty simple, it does what it was intended to do.

When it comes to effective graphic design, design principles matter, we will explore more elements of those principles later in this series. Stay tuned.