Concept & Design Style
The brand and/or marketing campaign direct the design style.
What will your message look like? Everything you design fits the brand and marketing campaign—the typefaces, art, photography, colors, patterns, layouts, borders, etc.
Design style focuses on appropriateness. Meaning, is the design style appropriate to deliver the brand or marketing campaign's message to the target market?
Examples: If you really like drawing anime, and your client sells anime comic books, your design style will be a good fit. However, some designers can't break-away from their own passions and will design a web site for a drive-in hamburger restaurant using their beloved anime style—a horrible idea and a poor fit for their client.
We must be flexible as designers and think of our clients needs. All seasoned graphic designers have the ability to design in many different styles, and they have an inventory of skills to serve their client's needs—not just their own artistic needs.
Remember that a graphic designer works for someone else (the client). It is important to design for their needs. message and target market (customers).
I believe that there are too many design styles to list and categorize each one—and then follow that style somewhat blindly. Instead, I challenge you to focus on your client's message and/or brand and design using a style that is appropriate for them and their customers.
Simply put: Does the design style look like it goes with your client's message and customers?
If I visit a bank's web site, I should say to myself, "this looks like a bank should look." (it is appropriate). If I visit a skateboarding store's site, it should look like a skateboarding site.
Here are some examples to demonstrate brand, marketing campaign and design style?
BRAND: Subway's brand is Fresh alternative to fast food (Eat Fresh!)
Marketing Campaign: Same as the brand
Design Style: Fresh veggies, photos of fresh subs and food (notice the chips are in the back)
BRAND: Fresh alternative to fast food (Eat Fresh!)
Marketing Campaign: Subway Kids. They have their own web site and lots of fun and interactive areas to involve them in the Subway kids brand experience. This site is Flash-based and "cooler" that the basic HTML-based Subway web site for older adults (grow ups this way).
Design Style: Interactive, Flash-based site that looks like a media player, colorful, no pictures of broccoli or brussel sprouts, avatar drawings of kids dressed like today's kids, and cooler type.
Note that the brand is still intact. It is still influencing the marketing campaign and style. The Subway logo is still used. The green and gold colors are the same. The wheel on the left reflects the brand with categories including information about the food and healthy activities.
More Style Samples
BRAND: 1950s style burger joint with "sassy servers" who insult you—in a humorous way.
Design Style: 1950s design elements (chrome, booths, tables, signage, etc.)—sassy, nerdy wait-staff
BRAND: 1920s "Casanova" Rudolph Valentino themed BBQ ribs restaurant with custom sauces
Marketing Campaign: Reinforce the brand image—1920s era themed silent movies/actors
Design Style: 1920s design elements—b/w, borders, wall paper, typefaces
BRAND: 1950s malt shop themed fast-food restaurant
Marketing Campaign: Reinforce the brand image—1950s era themed malt shop
Design Style: 1920s design elements—neon signs and lettering, bold colors, fried food, with an updated menu (salad). The Flash movie playing on the web site hearkens back to the 50s drive-in movie short films that played during intermission.