As an insurance professional, you may not think that graphic design plays an important role in your success. It does! The purpose of design is to help communicate ideas effectively, even across spoken language barriers. That’s important for any business, but especially for insurance which often doesn’t have a tangible “product” to deliver. Still unconvinced? Consider these 9 design specialties and think about how (or if) your agency would function without them.
Fine Art and Commercial Illustration
The creation of aesthetically pleasing and impactful images is at the heart of graphic design. From the photos and paintings that decorate our workspaces to the images and graphic elements that we use to communicate and persuade, art and illustration touch our lives daily in thousands of ways. Obviously, commercial illustration is the more “business-oriented” of the two. Still, at its best, an illustration can be a thing of true beauty and lasting cultural influence. After all, our American ideal of Santa Claus as a jolly man with a white beard and red, fur-trimmed suit got its start as an ad image!
Today, we think of typefaces — or fonts, as they are better known — as assets that come pre-loaded on our word processing programs and other applications. We may choose a default that appeals to us or download a specialty font for a holiday project; but usually, they’re just “there.” It’s worth remembering that a graphic artist drew each of the letters and symbols in every one of those thousands or millions of font sets. They made conscious design choices about shape, line thickness, etc., to enhance readability or to create an emotional effect. Drawing on traditions going back to the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, designers also create special characters (known as initials) that include colorful images or graphic elements to add visual interest and attract readers’ attention.
Choosing the right typeface for a specific purpose is an art form in itself. Additionally, even minor changes to kerning (the space between individual characters), tracking (the space between all the characters in a word), and spacing (the distance between lines of text) can have a huge impact on the final product.
Once we start combining images and text, the communication possibilities are endless. Publication design focuses on the need to educate and inform. If you’ve ever prepared or read a business’s annual report or company newsletter, you’ve seen it in action. Good design choices can help readers follow the story we’re trying to tell and identify the most important facts and figures. A bad layout can result in even the best content going unnoticed.
Marketing and Advertising
Personally, I think this is one of the most exciting design specialties. (It’s why I’ve focused on it in my own career!) While advertising as we think of it today has been around since at least the 18th century, the last two decades brought an explosion in the options for marketing pieces. While many businesses still rely on print ads, billboards, and direct mailers, savvy marketers also use online banners, pop-up ads, social media posts, and even vehicle wraps to get their message in front of potential customers. All of these are visually stimulating and appealing ways to persuade and sell.
While ads and marketing brochures are great, nothing quite says, “We’d love your business” like SWAG! From the goodies themselves to the wrapping materials and boxes that get them to recipients safely, every element is the work of a designer. Even the most mundane items can add value to the customer experience. Think about it; how excited do you get to see that instantly recognizable Amazon box on your porch? This type of design work is particularly challenging since items need to be distinctive while still meeting pre-determined price points. After all, no one wants to hear, “Oh, another one of those.”
Static images and copy have their uses, but today’s consumers want to see MOTION! Adding even basic video elements to emails, ads, or a website can yield a huge increase in conversions. That’s where motion design comes into play. From animated logos and kinetic typography to intros, outro, overlays, and CTAs to liven up videos to full-on animation, the possibilities are endless. And graphics in motion aren’t just about capturing eyeballs. Their thoughtful use can lead viewers through their customer journey, drawing attention to essential information. They can also provide a human touch to prove our authenticity and build relationships.
User Interface/User Experience Design
Anyone who works in the insurance industry knows that we spend a LOT of time on our computers, phones, and other devices! That’s especially true with the shift to remote and hybrid work over the last few years. Whether you use a legacy system or the latest insurtech, chances are you access a user interface to do so. While UI and UX design are different specialties with their own focuses and skill requirements, they work together to encourage users to engage with these systems. When an interface is laid out logically, it creates a more intuitive user experience. That can mean less employee training is needed. An aesthetically pleasing design can also help reduce the physical and mental fatigue that can result from all that time online.
We already talked about how art can bring beauty to our workspaces. The discipline of environmental design involves so much more than that though. If you’ve ever walked into a commercial space and said, Wow!, you’ve appreciated the efforts of such a designer. They make hundreds of decisions about floorplans, lighting, color schemes, noise control solutions, decor, and more that create comfortable, accessible, and stimulating workspaces that enhance productivity and well-being. Their work doesn’t necessarily stop at the main entrance, either. They may also design signage and even the parking, pathways, and green spaces around buildings.
Visual Identity Design
This is where it all comes together! While good design in each of these disciplines is beneficial, visual identity design brings all the elements together into a harmonious whole that customers associate with your insurance business alone. Logos are usually the first thing we think of when it comes to visual identity, but there’s more to it. It’s also the name of the company and the font used to display it. When that same font appears on the website and on publications and marketing materials, when the same color scheme appears on user interfaces, in decor, and on promotional items, the impact is cumulative.
Every business has a visual identity — whether it’s consciously chosen or not. Learning to “see” the design around us and understanding how good design encourages employee engagement and enhances the customer experience allows us to harness the power of visual communication to grow our businesses.