Graphic design is the process of conveying visual information to the viewer. This article will answer the eternal question: what is Graphic Design?

Communication is an essential human need. We communicate our needs and feelings to others, and in return, we also receive information from them. Communication helps people understand each other, thereby collaborating and building community.

From time immemorial, human ancestors knew how to converse with each other in the languages ​​of their creation. One of the most creative and innovative ways is to communicate through writing and images. Words and pictures help concretize thoughts, store them for a long time, and help thousands of other people understand them in a short time.

what is graphic design

What is Graphic Design?

Take an example of ancient human communities. How did the leaders then stabilize the culture and thousands of people? How do people listen, believe, understand, and belong to a single tribe?

One effective solution is to take advantage of the story of the gods. The god creates rain to help the crops grow. He protects the village from evil elements, rewards good people, and punishes the wicked. Many scholars have recognized that the part of faith is what makes human institutions. But coming here leads to another question: how to convey the story of the god to the other thousand people?

Of course, a village chief wouldn’t have to go door-to-door to tell the above spiritual story and ask every family to worship the village’s common deity. He can do a more straightforward: hire someone to draw the image of the god (according to his imagination) at the village gate, where people pass the most. Then, he would write a few more lines about the presence of the gods and the punishment that the village council would apply if anyone dared offend the superior.

People in the village who pass by every day will see that work until they genuinely believe that there is a God who is protecting them day and night. The village head does not have to spend too much effort but still achieves the goal of stabilizing and maintaining order. He just had to create a strong enough message, and the text and pictures would do the job.

The above example helps us understand the ability of writing and images to convey information. They have existed almost simultaneously since the arrival of the human race (the figure appears earlier), which has significantly impacted how we live and work.

Graphic Design là gì: Tác phẩm khắc trên đá của người Fremont sống ở miền nam Utah, khoảng 2000 năm TCN (ảnh: Wikipedia)

What is Graphic Design: Rock carvings of the Fremont people living in southern Utah, circa 2000 BC (photo: Wikipedia)

Back in modern times, we continue forming connections through communication. In addition to direct human-to-human contact, we have the appearance of organizations, including governments and business corporations. In which the relationship between brands and users is what Vu wants to emphasize.

The relationship between brands and users is a two-way relationship. Users communicate their desires through their behavior. Want to buy a phone? The first thing to do is go to Google and check the information about the product line you want to buy. Are you hungry or thirsty? Apps with dozens of discount codes are top picks.

From those needs, brands began to find ways to communicate their information to customers to attract and convince them to stick with the brand. There are many ways to do this. But the most effective way to do that is probably through images. And here we have the concept of Graphic Design.

The graphic design appears at almost every touchpoint between the brand and the customer: Logos, business cards, website interfaces, staff uniforms, and store menus. However, the meaning and role of graphic design are still not understood properly and enough.

Many people still take design work lightly, seeing it as a sub-component when building a brand. They don’t know that this perception will drive customers further away from the brand in the long run.

So what is Graphic Design? What are the essential elements of Graphic Design, and what is the importance of Graphic Design branding? We will help you answer these questions through this article.

What is Graphic Design?

What is Graphic Design? Is it editing photos, drawing on the computer, arranging layouts? Or does graphic design mean coming up with posters, banners, and billboards? If these are your answers when someone asks, “what is Graphic Design?” then congratulations, you’ve picked the right article to read.

The answers above are not entirely wrong, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Instead, it is the work that other people will see a Designer do every day, but Graphic Design means more than that.

In the view of the Vu Digital team, Graphic Design is the process of visual communication of an individual or organization to convey a specific message to the target audience.

Graphic design creates order, structure, and style for content, making it easy and engaging for your target audience to receive your message. Specifically, a graphic designer (Graphic Designer) will synthesize ideas, concepts, texts, and images and then present them in a suitable form (print, digital).

The “target audience” is the people who receive the design message. These are not mere audiences; they must be the ones that Graphic Designers want to convey.

Graphic Design is the process of visual communication of an individual or organization intended to convey a specific message to the target audience.

For example, a design publication of an English teaching center will target a group of customers who are students or working people who need to upgrade their foreign language skills. Therefore, the design must show youthfulness and modernity.

On the contrary, a medical brand will orient its design to the elderly group – people who often have health problems. For this group of customers, clearly expressing the message is more important than other details such as colors, typography,…

These two cases will create two completely different design styles with other goals. The job of a Graphic Designer is to understand who your audience is and understand what they need, thereby providing the right solutions through visual tools.

Understanding the meaning of Graphic Design will give you a new perspective on the field. It is better than considering graphic design as a photo editing tool. No, and graphic design is a form of communication.

What is Graphic Design: Art and Graphic Design

What’s the difference between art and graphic design? Many people wonder about that when researching “what is Graphic Design.” This question also leads to endless debates in the profession.

The line between art and graphic design is sometimes evident and blurred. However, according to the Vu Digital team, these two concepts have similarities and differences.

The first similarity between an artist and a Graphic Designer is that they aim for aesthetics in their work. We tend to enjoy beautiful and eye-catching things, and we love beauty. A painting or a design must be visually appealing for viewers to notice, and no one cares or sympathizes with unattractive designs.

The next similarity is the use of the same ingredients. Painters paint with color, shape, composition, and sometimes even text. What about designers? Also, from color, shape, layout, and text, they will create their design work.

From these input materials, artists and Graphic Designers create products with their styles and serve their purposes. However, if based on these characteristics alone, you have quickly equated art and design as the same, they are not the same.

Graphic Design là gì: Nghệ thuật và Thiết kế đồ họa

What is Graphic Design: Art and Graphic Design

You need to understand the vast difference between graphic design and traditional art. Visual art, such as painting, expresses the author’s creative self to tell the author’s views, worldview, and lifestyle.

The paintings are made first to meet the artist’s creative urge, and whether the viewer understands or loves that work is not what they prioritize.

A famous example is Pablo Picasso. Picasso loved painting, and he painted through the lens of his creativity. He does not care much whether the viewer understands the meaning of the picture or not. One hundred people who see Picasso’s paintings will have up to 99 different interpretations, and no one has the same feelings. Of course, Picasso still needed to sell his paintings to make a living, but the audience’s opinions were not the primary concern when he painted.

For artists, ego satisfaction is what drives them to create.

But with Graphic Designers, the story is not the same.

When Designers approach their works, they always have a starting point, a story to tell, and a message to express.

As we shared, when defining “what is graphic design,” this conveys a message to the target audience with visual tools. And the brand’s viewers are much more emotionless than those who enjoy arts. Even if they are the same person, their thoughts when they look at paintings at a museum differ from what they feel when glancing at a billboard.

You might say you want to design your way and don’t care if the viewer understands the message. Fine, and they will ignore it immediately and go to your opponent. One hundred people who don’t understand the message you want to convey means you are about to lose 100 customers.

For graphic designers, problem-solving is the most critical requirement.

Graphic Design là gì: Một thiết kế đơn giản và truyền tải được thông điệp về vấn nạn tuyệt chủng của loài sư tử châu Phi (ảnh: WWF)

What is Graphic Design: A simple design that conveys a message about the extinction of the African lion (Source: WWF)

On the other hand, for an artist to become successful, they need talent – something not everyone possesses. Of course, skill is also necessary to create a painting, but the value of the work will come from the inner qualities of the artist.

In contrast, talent is not the most influential factor in becoming a Graphic Designer. Sure, talent will help you excel. But if talent were so essential, the industry wouldn’t be as “hot” as it is now. You don’t need natural design skills to be a successful designer. The important thing, as Vu shared, is that you can solve a design problem.

You can thoroughly learn the knowledge of layout, typography, color… without any innate qualities. Some famous designers don’t use too many colors and textures but still convey their message very well.

Above are some similarities and differences between art and graphic design. The mistake in distinguishing these two concepts will lead to Designers creating designs that are too flighty and do not meet the most basic requirement of graphic design: convey a message so that viewers understand it.

What is Graphic Design: Essential components of Graphic Design

When learning in detail “what is Graphic Design,” we need to know the essential components of a design. A design contains two main parts: the graphic elements and the visual principles to arrange those graphic elements.

In Vu’s view, visual principles greatly influence Graphic Design because without applying these principles, it is difficult for designers to create an effective design and convey messages to the viewer.

Beginners often make the common mistake of learning the tools first. Yes, software like Photoshop or Illustrator is a handy tool, however, we must understand the fundamentals to use these tools successfully.

Just like when drawing, the artist will have to start with shapes, composition, and anatomy, whether he like these modules or not. They are the foundation on which artists build other skills.

In Graphic Design, the principle is the first step for designers to create vibrant, beautiful, and practical designs. Vu’s advice is to learn the basics before starting anything more advanced.

And if you already understand the visual principle, let’s look at the key elements of graphic design.


A point is a marker of a position in the design space. In geometric terms, a point is the intersection of a pair of x and y coordinates (i.e., vertical and horizontal) and has no weight. However, in Graphic Design, the point shows up as a dot and is visible.

Graphic Design là gì: Yếu tố điểm (ảnh:

What is Graphic Design: Point (Source:

Points can be insignificant graphic elements or act as focal points depending on how the Graphic Designer uses them. Points are also the building blocks of other visual elements. A series of points will form the line, and an infinite set of points creates a shape, texture, or plane. In typography, a point is a period – marking the end of a paragraph or sentence.


A line is an infinite series of points. In design, lines exist in a variety of weights, and changing the weight or texture by the Designer makes a visual difference to the bar. For example, a 10-point line will feel softer than a 30-point line.

We can create lines with a pen, pencil, brush, mouse, or digital code. Depending on the Designer’s intentions, they can be straight or curved, continuous or broken. When a line reaches a specific thickness, it becomes a plane.

Graphic Design là gì: Yếu tố đường (ảnh:

What is Graphic Design: Lines (Source:

In typography and layout, lines appear directly or will be “invisible” when designing. The most obvious is that the characters are always on the baseline when we edit text. Or when aligning paragraphs, the Designer also needs guides to align his work. In addition, a line connecting the two ends creates the next graphic element: the shape.


In Graphic Design, shapes are spaces or shapes created by a closed boundary or line. Using vector applications like Illustrator, you will recognize a shape as a space within a line closing at two ends.

There are two types of shapes that designers need to learn: geometric and natural (Geometric Shapes & Organic Shapes).

Graphic Design là gì: Yếu tố hình khối (ảnh:

What is Graphic Design: Shape (Source:

Geometric shapes are two- or three-dimensional, including basic shapes such as triangles, squares, rectangles, polygons, and circles. They are created by the repetition and symmetry of the lines; or from closed corners.

This structure gives Geometric a high degree of organization and efficiency. Because of its “standard,” Geometric is used often and appears in most designs.

In contrast, organic shapes are shapes drawn from the actual shape of the object. Unlike geometric, natural shapes are irregular, without repetition or symmetry, uneven, and more curvilinear. They can represent the shapes of things in nature, such as clouds and leaves.

Each type of cube will bring a different feeling to the viewer. For example, circles or rounded edges create positivity, love, or harmony. Squares and rectangles suggest balance, reliability, and certainty. We often consider the triangle a culture, religion, and history symbol.

For those reasons, the Designer needs to choose the right shape for the design and his target audience.


The texture is the surface feel of a design, for example, smooth, rough, soft, sticky, or glossy. Graphic designers use textures to suggest how their work would feel if the viewer could touch it. The surface is an effective tool to help design attract and convey better messages.

The texture is the material used to print graphic products. For example, paper can be rough or smooth, grainy or smooth, depending on the Designer’s intended use. A stiff, matte paper business card will ultimately differ from a business card using thin paper.

Graphic Design là gì: Yếu tố texture (ảnh:

What is Graphic Design: Texture (Source:

Besides affecting the feel of a product when the user holds it in hand, texture also affects its visual presentation. For example, a smooth surface will reflect light differently than a rough surface.

In addition, we can also apply textures to digital images. There are many ways to create texture when designing, and designers can use images, icons, typography, or built-in effects.


Graphic Designers use color as a primary tool to communicate the message; color can convey moods, describe things, or systematize information. Every adjective like “dark,” “gray,” and “sparkling” reminds us of a specific color.

We once considered graphic design a field of essentially just two colors, black and white, and it is no longer valid in the current context. Color has become an integral part of the design process, and color printing, once a luxury, has become the norm.

Graphic Design là gì: Yếu tố màu sắc (ảnh:

What is Graphic Design: Colors (Source:

To learn about color, we will need a separate article because the field of color includes much knowledge. Within the scope of this post, Vu will share the following expertise: Color Wheel – the main color groups – basic color schemes.

First, let’s learn about basic terminology in the world of colors: Color Wheel.

In 1665, physicist Isaac Newton discovered that a prism helps to split light into bands of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Newton arranged the colors around a wheel, creating today’s most used color reference tool in design.

From the above background, we divide colors into three main groups shown on the color wheel:

  • Primary colors (red, yellow, and blue): are defined as three colors that, if mixed in proportion, will produce all other colors. Otherwise, there is no other way of tinting to get red, yellow, or blue.
  • Secondary colors (purple, green, and orange) result from mixing two of the three primary colors. Specifically, red and yellow makeup orange; blue and red makeup purple; and yellow and blue makeup green.
  • Tertiary colors (red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet): These six colors result from mixing a primary and a secondary color.
Graphic Design là gì: Bánh xe màu sắc (ảnh: Amazon)

What is Graphic Design: The Color Wheel (Source: Amazon)

Color Harmony is created when we select two or more colors from their positions on the color wheel. You can learn and apply the following basic color schemes:

  • Complementary colors: Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. These color pairs have high contrast and express vibrancy and energy. On the contrary, they can also annoy the viewer. The result depends on how we use it. For example, red and green are two complementary colors.
  • Analogous colors: This color scheme uses colors next to each other on the color wheel. They create visual comfort and provide a sense of harmony in the design. However, these color schemes can also create a soft feel if misused or if they don’t feature other contrasting elements.
  • Triad colors: This color scheme uses colors evenly spaced around the color wheel. This mix feels lively and requires balance to please the eye.
  • Split-complementary colors: use a primary color and two adjacent colors to its complementary color. It is a color scheme that aims to create image contrast without causing discomfort to the viewer.
  • Tetradic colors (sets of four colors) are also rectangular color schemes. This color scheme uses four colors evenly spaced on the color wheel. However, designers should not use all four colors to the same extent. The more colors you have in your palette, the harder it is to balance.


Design cannot be without typography because, in most cases, typography helps to concretize the message into text, and we receive information mostly in writing.

Reading a poster, a book, or a leaflet is a process by which people acquire information through written language. Vu shared details about the concept of typography in a post, and readers can check it out here.

cover typhography

One note when designing is that whether the Designer uses other people’s fonts or creates his own, the most crucial thing is legibility. If the content is challenging to read, viewers will automatically skip the design because they don’t have enough time to deduce what the Designer is trying to tell them.

Graphic Design là gì: Yếu tố chữ (ảnh:

What is Graphic Design: Typography (Source:

Typography also affects the overall feel of the design. Therefore, it is necessary to choose a font suitable for the whole. For example, we will use a font with thick, bold strokes to emphasize important information, while thin fonts will be ideal for luxurious, stylish designs.

Using words beautifully and adequately is an art. Techniques like kerning, leading, or distinguishing typefaces are things that designers need to master when designing.


Space is the distance between elements in a design canvas. The effective spatial adjustment will provide the right amount of space to prevent graphic elements from being too close or too far apart.

Spaces that link or separate content. Elements located close to each other will help viewers understand they are related. Conversely, a wider gap will break the link between them.

Graphic Design là gì: Yếu tố không gian - toàn bộ phần màu trắng trong ảnh sẽ được hiểu là không gian trống của thiết kế (ảnh:

What is Graphic Design: Space (Source:

Spaces that link or separate content. Elements located close to each other will help viewers understand they are related. Conversely, a wider gap will break the link between them.

Sometimes, designers will use space creatively to create unique shapes or highlight essential elements of the layout. In graphic design, we divide negative space into two primary forms:

  • Active Space: This is the space designers intentionally set up to create accents for the layout. Active Space is often omitted to draw attention to the content and distinguish between elements.
  • Passive Space: This is the natural white space between graphic elements. Such as the space between words in text or the area around logos and other visual elements.


Along with typography, images are the main element that makes up a design. Images are the first thing that viewers will notice when looking at any graphic publication, and we use images as tools to express messages.

Famous brands understand the importance of images and invest a lot in this category. Fashion brands like Gucci and Dior to technology like Apple and Samsung all pay great attention to the brand’s image.

Graphic Design là gì: Yếu tố hình ảnh (ảnh:

What is Graphic Design (Source:

When using images, the key is to choose the right photos to express the emotions of the design and maximize their appeal. Designers can choose an image with high contrast or have multiple textures for the viewer’s attention.

Images are perhaps the most powerful visual communication tool. If the Designer uses the power of images to his advantage, the design will convey the message in a much more powerful way.

What is Graphic Design: Importance of Graphic Design to Brands

We have understood what Graphic Design is and what are the essential elements of Graphic Design. So what is its importance and impact on the world of brands? In Vu’s view, there are three main reasons for the influence of Graphic Design.

Graphic Design contributes to creating a brand.

We believe a brand’s essence is the user’s positive perception of the brand. These include rational perception and sensory perception. Leaders must influence both groups’ perceptions to build and grow a brand.

Five essential elements make up a brand: brand name – brand identity – brand logo – brand identity – brand architecture. Within the scope of this article, we need to pay attention to two factors: logo and brand identity, where graphic design plays a decisive role.

Graphic Design là gì

What is Graphic Design: A brand logo is a product of graphic design (Source: Turbologo)

Brands do not naturally appear in customers’ minds, and they will remember the brand mainly through its identity. Referring to Nike, we immediately think of the legendary swoosh symbol. Thinking of McDonald’s, the letter “M” and its red color immediately appear at any time.

It is these factors that create the presence of the brand in the minds of customers. Brands without an identity will be invisible stories, lying on paper or, worse, only known to the founders. The identity set is the first step for brand developers to build a communication strategy later.

Graphic Design helps create a brand identity, representing the brand most visually. Without an identity, it is complicated for a brand to survive or compete in a harsh environment like today.

Graphic Design helps build a competitive advantage.

In the long run, Graphic Design is an essential tool for brands to create design consistency and build a competitive advantage. Design Wanted shows that a unified presentation of a brand’s design can increase sales by up to 33%.

Meeting someone who looks decent is sure to feel more comfortable and trusting than messy. The same applies in the area of ​​branding. A website with a clean, modern look is sure to feel more trustworthy than a website with bad fonts and poor experience. A fan page that is consistent in design style will be more attractive than a fan page with one post per style.

Take a look around the social networking platforms of major brands. You will realize that they have their style and are always consistent in their design. Graphic Design may not yield immediate results in terms of revenue, but if done right, it can be an effective tool to help brands compete in the marketplace.

Graphic Design helps communicate messages effectively.

Another advantage of graphic design is that they help convey the brand’s message very effectively, if not most effectively.

As Vu shared, Graphic Design is the visual communication process to convey a specific message to the target audience. Graphic Design depends on whether your brand attracts customers and convinces them to choose a brand.

Graphic Design là gì: Thiết kế của Nike với thông điệp khuyến khích mọi người ở nhà trong thời điểm bùng phát dịch bệnh tại Mỹ (ảnh: Wieden+Kennedy)

What is Graphic Design: Nike’s design with the message encouraging people to stay at home during the outbreak of the disease in the US (Source: Wieden+Kennedy)

We receive information mainly through our eyes. No matter how good a message is, it can’t impact the customer without proper visual communication.

In short, Graphic Design plays a massive role in building and developing a brand. Leaders must know design and its benefits to have the right strategy.


Vu Digital team hopes you have understood what Graphic Design is, what are the elements of Graphic Design and the importance of Graphic Design for brands.

Understanding what graphic design is will help leaders build brands more effectively. On the other hand, designers also need to understand graphic design’s nature to understand their work’s meaning.

As Vu shared, Graphic Design has a long history that is almost simultaneous with the appearance of humanity. Graphic Design ranges from cave carvings to the banner ads we browse on our phones today. Therefore, understanding the history of this field requires a methodical research process, but it also promises many exciting things. Vu hopes this article will motivate you to learn more design knowledge on your journey.

To understand the world of branding and strengthen your knowledge of brand & brand design, you can connect with Vu through the links below:


Common Questions

What is Graphic Design?

Graphic Design is the process of visual communication of an individual or organization intended to convey a specific message to the target audience.

What are essential elements of graphic design?

There are 8 main graphic elements: points - lines - shapes - textures - colors - typography - space - images

How many color groups on the color wheel?

There are three main groups of colors on the color wheel: primary colors - secondary colors - tertiary colors

The importance of Graphic Design to the brand

Graphic Design contributes to branding, building a competitive advantage and effectively communicating messages