Graphic design is a key element of branding and visual ID projects, including corporate collateral, publishing for print and screen, apps and websites. But a lot of businesses get confused about what design actually is and what its real function and purpose are.
Frequently the subject of design crops up in conjunction with two other concepts: those of art and innovation. The three disciplines operate in overlapping spaces, but they each have a different primary function.
Sometimes businesses expect design to fulfill aesthetic criteria and it is certainly true that art and design have much in common and are often expressed via the same media. They are both about communication, too, but while art draws attention to itself and may deliberately obfuscate and conceal meaning, good design should clarify and facilitate comprehension - it stands aside to let the message come through.
Art raises questions; design finds solutions. Art challenges the status quo; design works within existing conditions and capabilities to encourage understanding. When the focus is on aesthetics rather than functionality, the resulting design is likely to be unnecessarily complex or fussy.
Great design allows you to feel comfortable because it is recognisable and consistent with your experience.