Graphic design is often thought about in the abstract. Everyone wants the elements of their company’s design portfolio, be it a logo, a print advertisement or a website, to look good. And, of course, so do we. But the more important question to ask is what do you want your graphic design to do.

No matter what your industry or area of specialization, all graphic design serves an important function. It organizes the information about your brand that you need to deliver to your customers. Information that you are getting to them for a specific reason.

Knowing the goal of your branding and design is critical to achieving a successful outcome. Your goals can be organized into two categories: overall branding goals and project specific goals. Overall branding goals should be infused in everything your brand does from the behavior of your employees to the décor of your office to the design of your website. Constant reinforcement of your brand should be in the background of everything that your company does.

However, unless you are a huge global company with a well-known brand story, like Nike or Apple, brand reinforcement should not be the only goal of your graphic design and advertising. Design should also have a project specific goal. What do you want your audience to feel, how do you want them to react, and what do you want them to do? If you can answer those questions then you are well on your way to solidifying your goals and creating effective design.

With a project and branding goals in mind, information and graphics can be organized to lead the reader through the layout and prompt and emotional response that moves them to take the desired action.

Take, for example, a website layout. When choosing your colors and graphics, make sure they adhere to your overall brand story. If your brand is modern and serene, like a spa or therapy service, do not jar your audience with cautionary reds. On the other hand, if your brand is bright, modern and playful, draw your audience in with colors and graphics that are bold and vivid. Every color tells a culturally understood emotional story that can be harnessed to add power and focus to your brand.

With overall branding goals satisfied, move into the gritty details of the layout. Establish a hierarchy of sizes for your text, headlines and images to create emphasis. Separate important elements graphically to draw a user’s attention and lead them through the page. Make navigating your site and understanding your message as easy as possible for your audience with careful placement of design elements.

Goal-oriented design will increase your conversions in both the long and short term. New customers who have connected emotionally with your brand are more likely to become loyal brand followers, repeat customers and a source of referral business.