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What Is Communication Design?

Maggie Worth
Maggie Worth

Communication design is the process of constructing communications for a specific purpose. The most common of these are related to marketing. This process takes into account all communications coming from a company or brand and strives to ensure that each individual communication creates a common impression in the reader or viewer's mind.

The marketing field is usually the place where most communication design occurs. This can include both internal and external communications, and often involves activities such as advertising and brand management. It may cross over into other functional areas as well, such as those responsible for issuing bids, to ensure that all communications work toward a common goal.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

The idea behind communication design is that every time a customer or potential customer receives a communication from a company, that communication should evoke the same image of the company as previous communications. This means that a company's television spots and print advertisements should have common elements outside of the company name that make it clear which company is being advertised and what the company is about. Social media posts and email communications to customers or potential customers should also have that same look and feel.

There are many aspects of communication design. One of the most important is visual imagery, which can include logos, icons, mascots, colors, print fonts, spokespeople, and more. Using the same such visual elements across communications trains the viewer to associate those images with the company being represented. This is such a powerful device, in fact, that companies register their logos, and sometimes their fonts and colors, with governmental agencies to ensure that no other company can use them and benefit from the owner's brand recognition efforts.

Words, themselves, are also a critical part of communication design. This can include taglines, which are statements made over and over by a company, usually in conjunction with their advertisements. It can also, however, include a vocabulary of words that the company uses in the text of their communications. For example, if a university wants to make the point that it encourages exploration of ideas and subjects, it will make sure to incorporate the words "explore," "explorer," and "exploration" whenever possible. When sending a postcard to prospective students, the university would say "explore our website" rather than "visit our website" and would encourage students to "explore possibilities" rather than to "find out about possibilities."

The over-arching goal of communication design is to create and reinforce a consistent brand image. Consumers are frequently bombarded with many advertisements and communications in a short period of time, so having a brand that stands out can be important to a company's success. Repeating the brand message over and over through consistent communication can help achieve brand recognition goals.

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