Advertising Design vs. Graphic Design: What Are The Differences?

Published by Maria De La Peña on September 09, 2020
Advertising Design
Advertising Design

Many people mistake advertising design for graphic design but they are very different. The former focuses more on developing advertising concepts while the latter creates visuals used in advertising like fonts and colors.

An advertising designer is solely related to the advertising industry. On the other hand, graphic designers can work anywhere. This is not to say that there are no similarities in both classes of design. In this post, we will show you the differences between advertising and graphic design. We will cap this up with why they should work together.

Differences Between Advertising Design and Graphic Design

Creative Liberty

Graphic designers have more liberty to express creativity while working. They have an array of fields to express their craft. Some of these fields include:

  • Illustration
  • Editorial design
  • Branding and logo design
  • Typography
  • Pictograms and icons
  • Interface elements and graphics
  • Signs
  • Packaging
  • Big print items such as billboards and posters.

Advertising designers employ more strategy in their work approach. As such, they are expected to:

  • Be professional with a spice of fun.
  • Always add some benefit to the service or end product.
  • Create designs that are targeted at making sales alone.

Research Approach

This is another avenue where we see a clear difference between advertising design and graphic design. Graphic designers aim at creating appealing assets by creatively mixing text and images. Some of their end products include logos, websites, advertisements, and brochures. Here’s a sample of what the graphic design process looks like:

  • Wireframes: This involves setting the basic layout without attaching a design.
  • Composition: This is where the designer launches the actual creative process with design.
  • Prototype: A draft that summarizes the idea.

An advertising designer takes a lot more into consideration. These include:

  • Market positioning and research.
  • Value proposition.
  • Draft of the project scope.
  • Consumer research.


Graphic design plays a huge role in marketing and helps immensely with creating conversions. Some of the benefits of graphic design to marketing campaigns include:

  • Enhancing company values.
  • Creates an avenue for consumers to connect with the brand.
  • Makes use of visual aesthetics to attract a broad audience.

It is a little different from advertising design. This kind of design doesn’t focus on the technicalities of design. Instead, their priority is to introduce products or services and their benefits to customers. The aim is always to make conversions. Here are some of the contributions of advertising designers in marketing campaigns:

  • Create designs with call-to-action in mind.
  • Produce ads that communicate the benefits of services or products to customers.
  • Advertising efforts are targeted at radio, TV, copywriting, and other media.


Graphic designers make use of several design elements to come up with visually attractive work. Because of this, they focus more on graphics to represent the core values of a business. Here’s a summary of the style that graphic designers adopt:

  • They emphasize typography. This means that they know the differences between font types and how they affect the final product.
  • There are careful detailed inline height and letter spacing ratio.
  • Ensure that they create contrast. To achieve this, they make use of color, shape/size, direction, and value/tone.

Advertising designers focus more on a direct sales approach. They are not as fancy as graphic designers. Here’s a summary of what their style looks like:

  • They focus more on the message rather than the design. This means that the attention is always on the effectiveness of the headline.
  • A standard is that there is always a bold offer behind each ad.
  • Their designs employ traditional marketing routes like print, billboards, and posters.

Responsibilities of an Advertising Designer

After looking at the vivid differences between advertising design and graphic design, let’s take a look at responsibilities. An advertising designer is in direct contact with the client. Their job focuses on creating concepts for advertising campaigns by including a variety of content.

The main aim of this kind of design is to sell a product or service to clients and new prospects. To achieve this, clients have to first meet with the designer to discuss the needs of their brand. Advertising designers almost always work under advertising agencies.

After they meet with clients, they employ their experience in emotional visual marketing and marketing psychology to create ads. They have the sole responsibility of deciding what kind of ads to produce and what media to use.

These designers work in tandem with creative teams so that they can create content around their advertising strategy. Their teams comprise of copywriters, directors, filmmakers, storyboard designers, and graphic designers. The more complicated the process, the more hands they need to complete their tasks.

Responsibilities of a Graphic Designer

One fact we have established all through this post is that advertising design is different from graphic design. In this section, we will discuss what graphic designers do.

Graphic designers are not streamlined, they can work in any of the visual aspects of the design process. From text to fonts, images to composition, they employ all kinds of elements to drive visual aesthetics.

Even though they work in advertising, they work in several other fields. Their job requires them to come up with visual compositions for specific projects. Such visual compositions can be logos, visual assets, color schemes, and branded typography.

How Advertising Designers and Graphic Designers Work Together

While advertising design and graphic design are different, there are benefits of having them work together. When a client decides to approach an advertising agency for a new strategy, both designers cross paths. It is no secret that such clients visit several agencies to see which one comes up with the best strategies.

The client then picks the agency that presents the best strategy then they can bring it to life. This is where the advertising designer needs the help of the graphic designer. It is the responsibility of the advertising designer to share the vision of the project. The graphic designer picks this up to make it visual by employing different design elements.

The advertising designer needs these visual representations every step of the way. Graphic designers make use of the company guide to replicate the vision of the advertising designer’s vision.

After this, the advertising designer presents the visual assets to the customer. If there are revisions, they start the process over. This goes on until the client is satisfied and the project is delivered.

Some of the projects that have advertising and graphic designers work together include billboard ads, print ads, magazines, and editorials. Others include bus billboard ads, social media ads, etc. The aim is to pass the message about products or services in the most attractive manner possible.

Wrap Up

Even though advertising design is different from graphic design, there is a need for them to work in tandem. This allows each of the creatives to learn about and appreciate the other. The result of this is better communication and a better end product.

With your understanding of these differences, it makes it easy for you when next you need to hire from Delesign. You know the different roles and you can find the perfect fit.

Maria De La Peña

Maria is a Content Writer with keen interest in eCommerce and Internet Marketing. She is a Communications graduate and understands what it takes to write persuasive copy and blog posts. Outside of work, you can find her mini-blogging about her life on social media.