Sustainable Graphic Design: How To Go Green With Your Graphics

Climate change is a reality, and sustainable practices are just one way to make a difference. Every industry and field has been trying to do its part so that the planet we call home allows us to do so for a long time. 

Do you remember when a few years back, all the companies started promoting digital bills, menus, and product catalogs as part of their sustainability efforts? Yes, not asking for printed receipts and bringing our own bags have been major steps in the consumerism green revolution.

All this while, we have been thinking that going digital is what we need to save our planet. But, anything done above moderation becomes a hurdle in achieving sustainability. That is a sort of the state with digital assets as of now. 

But do not worry, all is not lost since we have a brand new innovation coming up in this industry too. And, that is sustainable or green graphic design. This field of graphic design helps you minimize the impact you have on the environment without affecting your business. 

The question remains though – how beneficial is it? And why do brands need to make it a part of their marketing efforts? Any new concept is hard to understand and implement with so many conflicting opinions, so here is a blog by Kimp to ease that process for you. 

Let’s take a deep dive into understanding what sustainable graphic design is and how you can implement it for your business. 

What is sustainable graphic design? 

Before we venture into understanding sustainable graphic design, let us take a step back to understand what sustainability, green, and eco-friendly mean. That will help us assimilate these concepts with graphic design quite easily. 

Sustainability is an approach to manufacturing, design, and our lifestyle processes. This approach ensures that we do not overuse any resource, and it is enough for future generations to continue without an impact. 

Eco Friendly is a concept of working with a resource in a way that does not negatively impact the current and future generations. A string of eco-friendly practices results in a sustainable way of life. 

Green is a term that people use for eco-friendly concepts and products that have a positive impact on the environment.

So what is sustainable graphic design?

As the energy demands of our digital life keep increasing, sustainable graphic design is an attempt by the graphic design community to limit the impact design has on the environment. While we want the impact to be immense on our consumers, we do not want the same for the environment. 

But is that even possible? Many may argue that the most sustainable graphic design is no excessive graphic design projects. But, in a world that runs on marketing and advertising efforts, that is not a sustainable approach, so to speak. 

We need a medium of communication, and sustainable graphic design can make that possible without impacting the environment or hampering the growth of future generations. 

Adoption is easier said than done, and we completely understand this. For a business to invest in this, we need to make a good case for it. 

Thankfully, our next section covers that quite well. 

Let us take a look at the need for sustainable graphic design in the business world. 

Why do you need sustainable graphic design?

All actions come with consequences, and too much of something eventually becomes a problem. Unfortunately, that is the case with graphic design. Be it digital or print, creating designs takes a toll on the environment, and we need to start accounting for it. 

Did you know that the internet produces more carbon into our atmosphere that is fast exceeding the one by air travel? Ever since digital products became a part of our marketing and advertising efforts, this carbon footprint became our responsibility, too. 

Interestingly, investing in sustainable graphic design does not just have environmental benefits. Its merits go beyond that. Some reasons for a brand to invest in sustainable graphic design are : 

1. Helps you connect with the eco-conscious consumer 

Customers are increasingly becoming conscious of who they award their loyalty to. A major factor in deciding this is the company’s role in sustainable and ethical development. By adopting and investing in sustainable graphic design, you can show your customers that you stand for the same values that they do. 

This is a brilliant way to win over one of the toughest audiences – Millennials and Gen Z. Customers spot greenwashing from a mile away, so walk the talk and invest in sustainable graphic design. 

2. Optimize resources and improve ROI

Sustainability, at the core of it, is about using minimal resources and avoiding waste. Creating designs for your products, marketing, branding, and advertising efforts is one of the biggest expenses for any brand today. 

Adoption of sustainable graphic design can help you optimize the resources that go into these processes and eventually improve your ROI. With fewer resources and similar output, the bottom line will only look better and better. 

3. Avail government benefits 

Governments are consistently working on incentivizing any sustainable development, and graphic design cannot be far behind. When you are running a business, things are tight enough and sustainable graphic design can be an expensive practice. So, these government benefits can help you offset the effort you are putting in to sustainably continue these practices. 

So far, we have covered what is sustainable graphic design and why it is the need of the hour. Next, we need to move on to the most important section of this blog. 

How do you implement sustainable graphic design for your business? Is it possible when you are outsourcing your design needs, and how do you approach a design brief in such cases? 

All that and more in our next section. 

Sustainable graphic design is easier than you can imagine, as the next section will tell you.

Let’s go. 

Sustainable Graphic Design: 6 tips to go green with your Graphics 

We know how intimidating something new feels. Whenever our clients come up with something new for us to work with, it throws us off, too. Thankfully, our team has a never-say-no attitude, and we research to get it done. 

You must approach sustainable graphic design with the same attitude for the best results. 

To make things easier, Kimp has curated a list of tips and practices just for you. Let us take a look. 

1. Start with the right design brief 

A design brief is the starting point for every design process. If we can incorporate sustainably at this stage itself, then implementation becomes quite easy. As they say, well begun is half done. 

So what does a design brief look like for sustainable graphic design? 

  • Inform your design team that you are looking for a sustainable approach to your graphic design needs. This way, they can begin with the right intentions and not scramble halfway. 
  • Be clear about the objective of your design project. Rework, and revisions mean using excess resources, and a clear design brief can avoid that. Share images, mood boards, and as many details as you can. 
  • Include a list of “must-haves” and “good to have” elements in the design. This way, the designer will not go overboard and understand your preferences well. 

Kimp Tip: If you plan to print the design in the future, ensure that you inform your design team. This way, they will keep the design print-friendly so that there is no rework at all. Some colors do not work on prints as much as they do digitally, but all print colors work digitally. Informing the team earlier makes them design the right way. 

Check our guide on design briefs and color schemes to understand this in detail. Or, you can connect with the Kimp Graphics team for a mindful design process. 

2. Practice Minimalism 

Minimalism is more than a trend. In sustainable graphic design, it is a way of life – an essential part of our workflow. As designers and brands, we are used to over-delivering and overproducing. Asking for 4-5 samples when the first one works already, posting the same content on all platforms without a specific need or strategy, and so on, come to mind as examples. 

Does your brand need to print new marketing materials when you still have the older ones left with you? Even if you do not have existing material, maybe with a few minor tweaks, the older design can still work. 

This way, you can build branding consistency and be sustainable, too. 

Minimalism can work in the design choices you make too. Some ways include :

  • Picking a central color to use in all your designs to optimize your printing resources 
  • Using a readable and easy-to-render font to save energy resources 
  • Choosing a professional design team to achieve a striking graphic design without overdoing it. 

Kimp Tip: Recycle your designs and pick a design team that knows the craft well enough not to make it boring. While it is very exciting to jump on new trends, the consumer appreciates the little efforts you make. That will give you more business than trends. 

Designed by Kimp
3. Create Versatile designs 

Building on the premise of optimizing resources as much as possible, we strongly recommend creating versatile designs for your brand’s marketing and advertising designs. When we create very specific designs, the impact on our environment is much bigger than we anticipate. So, having versatile designs that can work for over one occasion, medium, and marketing channel can save that impact. 

Most brands today have an omnichannel marketing strategy and need designs to look similar across all marketing channels. In such cases, instead of creating individual designs for each of them, consider creating one and then optimizing it for others. 

Another step in making versatile designs work for your brand would be to include gender-neutral and inclusive designs in your kitty. Design for everyone in your target audience irrespective of their gender, race, age, and other demographic features. 

If necessary, you can spotlight one over the other, but having an inclusive design, build a design asset kit you can use across your marketing campaigns. 

Gender-neutral and inclusive campaigns are always a hit among the customers, so it is a pure win-win situation. 

Looking to build an inclusive and gender-neutral design asset bank for your brand? Connect with the Kimp Graphics and Kimp Video teams today! 

4. Design for eco-friendly printing 

When we speak of sustainable marketing and branding efforts, most think of the eco-friendly printing techniques available. It is a step in the right direction without a doubt, but the graphic design has to support these printing techniques for best results. 

So what do you need to tell your graphic design team so that your eco-friendly printing goes well?

  • What is the quality of the printing paper you are using? Is there a chance of blotting? This will tell them what colors will work and not. 
  • What are the technical specifications of colors and fonts that your printing partner is recommending? This way, you can avoid rework or optimization efforts later on. 
  • Do they use a template to print? Does the team need to optimize the page size and design layout to avoid paper wastage? 

These simple things can make an enormous difference in the value chain. Communication is key in achieving sustainable graphic design, so include these details in your design brief, surely. 

Kimp Tip: One design that cannot escape printing is the packaging. So, ensure that your packaging design employs the most sustainable design practices. Since this is also a huge part of your branding, we can afford no missteps here. Work with your printer and design team to achieve your best sustainable packaging design

Designed by Kimp
5. Optimize your designs 

Speaking of optimization, we cannot ignore the elephant in the room. Large-size files that take too much space on your storage (physical and cloud) are a huge drain and an impediment to your sustainable graphic design efforts. Optimization must become a way of life across all designs that you produce. 

Wondering how it works exactly? 

  • Start by analyzing the size of your images. What is the best quality you need to ensure there is no distortion or impact on the messaging? Do you need a large file when a smaller one will do? Trust your design team with their recommendations. Larger files also take longer to load, and that has a direct impact on customer experience along with your carbon footprint. 
  • Think of the application of a design before you begin. If all your creatives have been for a digital platform till now, you may consider a spaced out and relaxed layout the best design style. But, this is highly wasteful in print designs. 
  • Videos are a vital part of all marketing campaigns, and they have a large energy footprint too. See how you can work on reducing that. Work with your design team to see how you can reduce the weight of each frame in the video. 
  • Constantly update the design assets you have at hand so that they work well across all platforms with no additional energy requirements. 

Remember, small drops make an ocean, so no effort is too small. 

If you are wondering how to successfully implement these steps and if that will impact your output, connect with the Kimp Graphics + Video teams. With our expert team in tow, you will not regret your sustainability efforts. 

6. Build templates 

Sometimes the easiest solution stares us in the face, but we completely miss it. Designing with templates is an age-old process, but as time passed, we seem to have ditched it. As a brand, you need every design you put out there to be consistent in improving brand awareness

What better way to achieve this than creating custom templates unique to your brand? The good news is that templates have an inadvertent sustainable impact. Creating designs from scratch uses a lot of resources, but having custom templates can successfully reduce your carbon footprint. 

Having templates can also reduce the time taken to create a marketing material, which again optimizes the usage of resources. 

You can work with a design team to create specific templates for the many designs you use every day – videos, social media posts, newsletters, print ads, and so on. This way, you can practice sustainable graphic design without compromising on creativity or output. 

Worried that creating templates and subsequent designs from them will prove expensive? Not with Kimp Graphics and Kimp Video subscriptions. Book a call with the team to know more today. 

Choose a sustainable graphic design with Kimp 

The first day of a new job is always exciting and nerve-wracking too. We imagine that your first tryst with sustainable graphic design will feel the same. But, trust us, it is all worth it when you see that your actions are not having a negative impact on our planet. 

And if you can do that without impacting your revenue, customer sentiment, and bottom line, what more can one ask for?

That is why Kimp Graphics and Kimp Video offers unlimited design requests, revision, and services across a hundred different categories at a flat monthly fee. 

Why wait? 

Sign up for the free trial now.