Industry Overview: Graphic Design

Last Updated: July 19, 2017

Graphic design involves using both graphics and text to convey a concept or idea. The graphic design industry includes many activities, including corporate identity/branding, advertising, print production, and web design. Graphic designers create logos, posters, newsletters, brochures, signs, and other forms of visual communication. The graphic design industry in Canada is slated to grow as high-quality graphic design services will become increasingly integral for companies seeking to develop brand awareness.

Industry Overview


There are around 1,500 graphic design establishments based in British Columbia, representing 17% of Canada's graphic design businesses. The industry has a high level of fragmentation, as it is comprised of many small, independently operated graphic designers and freelance graphic designers. According to industry statistics, only 23% of B.C. graphic design service establishments have formal employees. The majority of these firms employ fewer than four employees, which is consistent with national trends.


Graphic designers are important for Canadian advertising agencies, and businesses that are seeking to develop brand awareness. Businesses are turning to graphic designers as they seek to streamline their brand presence across several mediums, such as product packaging and websites. Because of this, graphic designers have increasingly been undertaking marketing and public relations work. Specialized graphic design services, especially graphic designers that specialize in interactive media, are in demand in Canadian urban centres.

Industry Trends and Challenges

The graphic design industry faces opportunities and challenges due to the the high level of fragmentation in the industry. On one hand, fragmentation allows graphic design firms to cater to niche markets. However, this fragmentation also means that graphic design firms can struggle with competition from freelance graphic designers.

Two industry trends that graphic designers should keep up with are sustainable design and using data in graphic design. Graphic designers practice sustainable design when they apply sustainability principles to communication design practice. Sustainable design is being promoted throughout the country by Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC), which offers sustainability tools for designers, and is the subject of high-profile initiatives including The Living Principles for Design and the Re-nourish Project Calculator.

In data-driven design, graphic designers harness the power of the computer to generate innovative visual expressions using data, code, and algorithms. Data is everywhere, from corporate annual reports to food packaging design. Graphic designers can use data-driven design to solve increasingly complex visual representation problems and make their messages stand out from the competition.



Magazines and Trade Journals


Additional Resources

If you would like to access more resources, the Graphic Design Accelerator Guide is designed to help prospective and existing business owners gather information for their secondary market research. The guide is broken down into four main sections that cover how to start your research, industry information, competitive information and customer information. Depending on your needs you can spend as much or as little time as necessary in each section.

If you find that you need more guidance before starting your secondary research, check out our Business Research Basics Guide. It will help you focus on what types of information you will need to gather and why it is important.

Related Guides


Graphic design is the craft of creating visual content to communicate messages. Applying visual hierarchy and page layout techniques, graphic designers use typography and pictures to meet users’ specific needs and focus on the logic of displaying elements in interactive designs to optimize the user experience.

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