Life is chaos. We never know what the day will bring and even our best-laid plans are subject to imploding with the unpredictable spontaneity that is life. With that being said, the presence of harmony is a beautiful and most welcomed thing. What is harmony? It’s peace, balance, unity and above all else, cooperation among elements.

When it comes to graphic design in marketing, your work should always have a sense of harmony. It’s important to note that just because something has visual harmony doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s what some would consider “typically pretty”. As mentioned above, harmony also means cooperation. If a work of art is meant to portray distress or tension, these concepts can be enforced by elements that are working in unison. In design, visual harmony can be achieved through repetition, visual echo and thematic references.

repetition in graphic design

Repetition is harmony on steroids. After all, what could be in greater agreement with something than oneself? Repetition also grabs our attention because it rarely occurs naturally, which places greater emphasis on the element being repeated. On a deeper level, the brain is given a hypothetical “breather” because it’s already identified the element and can now take in the message as a whole.

Repetition is a great tool to use while you’re attempting to create harmony in your work. It draws attention to specific elements while allowing the brain to relax and take in your design as a whole rather than a disjointed mess.

Visual Echo

This is when you utilize the basic elements of a design such as color, typography and style, and find a way to tie them all together seamlessly. Visual echo creates a cohesive message that’s appealing to the eye. You can establish a color palette by taking the focal point of your image and extracting its primary colors. Then, strategically reflect those colors throughout your design. Whether it be the color of the typography, background or border, there’s always a way to create a pattern with your color scheme. Regardless of what you’re designing, that piece is going to have a personality all its own.

So, take a moment to think about what you’re trying to say before you dive right in. Once you’ve realized what message it is you’re trying to convey, you can amplify that through the style in which your design. Is your piece going to be playful or serious? Modern or vintage? These are all things that can be communicated through visual echo, by picking the appropriate typefaces and content and using them in a way that compliments the overall design.

Thematic References

Finally, you can make thematic references for an infusion of harmony into your work. In my opinion, this is an extended version of visual echo with some more literal ideas thrown in. Thematic reference encompasses everything from the ideas or symbols that are related to your subject matter, color palette, typography, even the media you decide to display your design on or with.

For example, say you were designing an elegant wedding invitation. You would pick a color palette that’s in unison with the bride and groom’s colors. You could reflect that in the typography, the boarder of the invitation, maybe even incorporate some type of rich floral background to give it that lavish touch. Then use a superscript typeface that illustrated the serious yet romantic tone of the event. Of course, an invitation of this nature would be printed on a thick, sturdy cardstock, which would only tie the theme together in perfect harmony. A designer who did all that would be implementing thematic reference.

As we all know, we don’t have the control in life that we do in design. Thus why harmony is something all designers, artists and people alike should not only strive for but appreciate in all its forms.