As designers, we all have (and should have) different ideas about possible creative/visual solutions to a marketing issue. Design principles, however, are the fundamental concepts that guide designers in the creative process. These guides help us organize, enhance and develop our graphic pieces in a manner that will resonate with the target audience. The better we understand and master these principles, the more experimental we can be.
Just like a martial artist, we must master the balance, rhythm, hierarchy, and unity of the various parts that together make up the design. The better we understand how these forces are related and work harmoniously with each other, the more we can push the boundaries. It is also important to remember that each brand has its own brand guidelines that is tightly linked to its brand identity.
Balance is the visual equilibrium of the design and relates to how the design is structured as well as the look and feel of the design. Depending on how the elements are placed, distributed and weighted, the design can also convey differents message to viewers.
Hierarchy involves highlighting the most important elements of the design or using typography to bring the viewers attention to what you want them to read or do. A designer needs to direct the viewers attention to what is important and this is where hierarchy is important.
Unity is how the different elements of a design are organized so that together, it looks like one design. This means playing around with the consistency of sizes and shapes, the combination of colors and ensuring that there is harmony in between the elements of the design.
Rhythm is the repetitive use of images, elements, colors or any graphic elements in our composition. It is also about the sequence in which these components appear.
For each of these principles, there are sub-points that I could explain further. For example, I could talk about Proportion being linked to balance and hierarchy, or a system of patterns (Repetition) being part of rhythm and unity. The most important thing here is to be aware of how these principles work together to allow us as designers to come up with designs which are innovate and ground breaking and yet still appeals to the viewers we are targeting.