Graphic design — the use of visual information to communicate a message — is essential to every industry. Visual information can quickly communicate ideas that could take tens or hundreds of words to break down.

Across industries, from advertising to health care to construction, graphic designers use their knowledge of shape and color to break down complex information so it becomes more engaging and can be understood as fast as possible.

These industries are some of the most important to the modern economy. Each depends on effective graphic design. Together, they demonstrate why strong visuals are so key to communication right now.


Graphic design is central to the advertising industry. A strong visual can communicate values, benefits and information you may have needed many words to get across otherwise.

Every aspect of a company’s visual identity — from logo to brand colors to the shape language they use in their packaging or website design — has a major impact on how customers perceive the brand.

For example, a website with a sleek, high-contrast neutral palette may work well for a brand that wants to come across as serious and professional. A website that takes advantage of pastel tones, paper textures and crafty design elements may work better for a company that wants to be associated with sustainability or handcrafted goods.

In a crowded market, strong branding is essential for companies that want to stand out and grab customers’ attention. The right visual in the right place is often one of the best tools that marketers have for the job.

Food and Beverage

In the food and beverage industry, graphic designers use visuals to organize and display important information about a product on its package — like the kind of ingredients it has, the certifications it’s received and whether or not the packaging is recyclable.

Strong visual design is also important in helping customers tell similar, but different, products apart. Brands often employ distinctive looks on their packaging that communicate both what they’re trying to sell and what makes the product different.

Companies also use design to help distinguish between similar food products from the same line. An example might be different flavors of ice cream or distinct types of olive oil.

Food and beverage retailers also benefit from effective graphic design. For example, Starbucks worked with graphic designers and marketers to create a unique display for a new bottled cold brew drink. The final display used wood framing along with signage featuring a cafe chalkboard-inspired design to draw the attention of customers and quickly communicate the qualities of the product on display.

Health Care and Pharmaceuticals

If you’ve ever browsed a brochure in a doctor’s office, you’ve seen medical graphic design out in the wild. Designers in the health care and pharmaceutical industries work on everything from informational pamphlets and hospital signage to practice websites for individual doctors.

In the industry, visuals are often used to improve patient engagement and make information about a condition or possible treatment a little more engaging.

Rather than simply provide information in plain text, providers and pharmaceutical manufacturers often work with graphic designers to create informative infographics or illustrations that make health information easier to break down and understand.

Construction and Manufacturing

Despite modern safety technology, manufacturing is still one of the most dangerous industries for workers. However, a simple graphic with the right word choice can quickly communicate the kinds of dangers workers may face in a certain area and the safety procedures required.

Good graphic design is considered essential if you want to create effective safety signage for a factory, warehouse or construction site.

Old signs were often language-dependent, relying entirely on words to get their message across. As a result, they may be difficult to understand quickly. If you don’t know the local language, they may not be useful at all. Newer safety signage tends to solve this problem by utilizing relevant graphics and icons that help communicate a message quickly and transcend the language barrier.

Strong design also helps safety signage stand out against the environment. With the right colors and images, there’s less risk that a sign becomes part of the wall — and, as a result, may be ignored by most workers.

Software and Technology

Visual communication is especially important in software. Clear icons and imagery can mean the difference between a user interface that feels intuitive and easy to use and one that doesn’t explain itself or confuses users.

Most major technology companies have fairly distinctive graphic design strategies. Google, Amazon and Microsoft all have distinct logos that most Americans can recognize at a glance. For some companies, design is even more central to success.

Apple, for example, made itself known with strong visual branding and clear UI design. The company’s use of graphic design was even one of the main reasons the company was able to break away from the pack and establish itself as a main name in tech in the early days of consumer computing.

Visual Communication Is Key Across the Economy

With clever graphic design, companies can communicate data much faster than they’d be able to otherwise. This allows for more effective safety signage, UI design and even better product packaging.

No matter what industry you work in, you probably depend on graphic design for your work to be successful. As the pace of life speeds up, strong visual communication is likely to become even more valuable.

Lexie is a digital nomad and business owner. If she’s not traveling around the country, you can find her baking some chocolate chip cookies or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.