12 Principles of Design (Don’t Miss the Last One)

Written By:Callum
Last Updated: March 14, 2024
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Have you ever wondered why some designs are more successful than others? The answer is in the principles of design that successful companies apply to their branding.

Principles of design are a collection of standards used by designers to produce successful and aesthetically pleasing designs. These guidelines can be used for various design tasks, including branding and marketing, as well as product design and website layouts.

Whether you are a professional in graphic design or a business owner curious to learn more about design, understanding these design principles will help you ideate or produce appealing and useful designs.

Difference Between Principles of Design and Elements of Design

Exploring the types of graphic design can provide deeper insights into how these principles and elements are applied across different disciplines. Despite referring to separate areas of the design process, both the principles of design and the elements of design are significant in the design process.

The elements of design are the basic components or building blocks in graphic design used to create visual compositions. These elements can be combined and manipulated to create a wide variety of designs, but they do not necessarily determine the overall success or effectiveness of the design.

On the other hand, the principles of design are guidelines designers use to arrange and organise the design elements in a visually pleasing and effective way. These principles help designers create eye-catching designs, effective at conveying a message and engaging viewers.

12 Design Principles and Their Importance

Creating a successful brand requires good design. Following the fundamental principles of design can assist you in developing a visually interesting brand that makes you stand out from the competition.

Here are 12 principles of design that you should use in your branding:

1. Emphasis

The concept of emphasis is utilised to bring attention to and highlight a particular design aspect. It directs the viewer’s attention to the critical feature of the design. To encourage customers to take a specific action, the call-to-action button, for instance, could be highlighted in an accent colour that contrasts with the overall colour palette of the web page.

Emphasis is the art of increasing the design’s effectiveness by deliberately drawing attention to the most important information.

2. Balance

The distribution of visual weight in a design composition that gives it a sense of stability and equilibrium is referred to as balance. The symmetrical design gives a sense of stability and order, while asymmetrical balance uses different elements to create balance and visual harmony. This sense of order and structure facilitates information processing.

3. Contrast

Contrast is using differences in colour, texture, size, or shape to create visual interest and make elements stand out. It can add depth and dimension to the design, create a visual hierarchy and guide the viewer’s eye to the most important elements.

4. Repetition

As the name suggests, repetition means using repeating elements throughout a design to achieve consistency and unity. Designers understand that it strengthens the brand identity and fosters a sense of coherence, such as the navigation menu on all pages of a website.

5. Proportion

The size and scale of design elements in relation to one another and the overall design are referred to as their proportion. It can create an aesthetically beautiful, harmonic and user-friendly design. The design elements like size, shape and placement might influence proportion.

6. Movement

Using visual elements like lines, forms, and colour gives the impression of movement and directs the viewer’s eye. Other elements that can impact this sense of movement include colour, typography, graphics, and animations. This creates an attention-grabbing, dynamic design.

7. White Space

Have you noticed that sometimes the designers intentionally leave empty space between design elements? This is the concept of white space – or negative space.

White space helps to create a sense of balance, openness, and clarity in the design project. It can separate text and images and create a more readable and visually appealing design. Factors that can affect negative space include the size, position, and spacing of the design elements.

8. Rhythm

Every design needs to evoke a feeling of flow and cohesion to be effective. That’s where the rhythm principle comes in. For instance, in the design of a mobile app, the repetition of visual elements like buttons and icons can establish a feeling of visual rhythm and flow that enhances the user’s experience.

9. Pattern

The systematic repetition of design components contributes to the design’s sense of cohesion and visual interest. That’s what’s called a pattern. Variables such as size, shape, colour, and spacing of design elements can affect the pattern.

10. Hierarchy

As you can probably guess, hierarchy is placing certain elements according to relevance or priority. It promotes structure and directs the viewer’s eye to the design’s most crucial components, such as headers and subheadings. It also contributes to creating a structured, organised layout that is simple to traverse and comprehend. Size, colour, position, and contrast can impact hierarchy.

11. Variety

Adding contrast to a design creates visual interest and variety. The benefit of variety is that it contributes to the creation of an original, dynamic, and visually appealing design. The use of colour, font, shape, texture, and spacing are some of the elements that might impact diversity.

12. Unity

Visual unity is one of the core principles of a design to accomplish a sense of completion and fullness. It contributes to creating a recognisable and consistent design, strengthening brand identification and increasing the effectiveness of the design. The use of colour, font, imagery, and overall composition are some of the elements that can help achieve unity.

6 Design Elements

The elements of design are the basic components or building blocks that designers use to create visual compositions. Typically, there are 6 design elements:


A line is the most important design element and refers to a continuous mark created with a pen, brush or other tools on a surface. Lines can be thick, thin, broken, straight, curved, or any combination of these to produce a range of aesthetic effects.


The two-dimensional region enclosed by a boundary or outline is called a shape. Different shapes, such as organic or geometric, can be used to emphasise contrast or establish a feeling of structure in the final design.


A form is a three-dimensional representation of a shape or an object. It can be produced by utilising light, shadow, and perspective. Form is the one element that can add depth to the design.


The region around, between, and inside design elements is referred to as space. In a design, space can establish a sense of harmony, contrast, or focus.


Texture describes the visual or tactile characteristics of an object’s surface or how it feels to the touch. It can be utilised in a design to add contrast or a sense of depth.


Colour is a design element that includes hue, saturation, and brightness. In addition to transmitting message and symbolism, colours can be utilised in design to establish mood, contrast, or emphasis.

At Creato, We’re The Masters of Design Principles

As an award-winning graphic design agency in Sydney, we’re the master of the principles of design. Our graphic designers have over a decade of experience creating masterful and trending logos, brands, and websites for our customers from all over Australia – all of that with an unwavering 100% customer satisfaction rate!

So, if you’re looking for a reliable and affordable graphic design agency located in any of the major Australian cities, get in touch with us.

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About callum

Callum is the founder of Creato, a Sydney based design agency that specialises in creating holistic brands for Aussie businesses.

With a talent for crafting memorable and effective branding solutions, Callum has built Creato into a respected and successful agency. His work has been featured in various publications, including The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and Entrepreneur.

If you re interested in working with Callum and Creato to bring your brand to the next level, don t hesitate to get in touch!

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