What are the differences between the roles of a graphic designer, an art director and a creative director?

Similar to the editorial world, B2B design teams also have a hierarchy. But when it comes to titles and terminology, not every company uses the same lingo.

Jackie Baraona, graphic designer at the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association in the United States, said all graphic designers use computer software to create visual concepts. They work with the editorial and sales teams to develop graphics for various media such as websites, social media, magazines, advertisements, brochures and reports. “An art director also does this but takes on a manager role, helping to guide and critique other designers,” she said.

However, Kathy McGilvery, design director at WealthManagement.com in the U.S. has a different view. “Since I have been working in B2B, an art director and graphic designer is typically one position,” she said. “The most important thing is keeping a consistent look to the magazine; take the whole issue into consideration when designing each story.”

Matt Claney, art director at WTWH Media in the U.S., agrees that a lot of the creativity is the same across design staff. “Graphic designers, art directors and creative directors are working toward the same goal of telling the best story visually.”

However, Claney’s organization has three designers. There’s a creative director senior to him, and another less-experienced designer whom he manages directly. The creative director reports directly to the CEO and clients. He or she is on the ground floor of each project and champions design using their knowledge and expertise to help build the basis for a concept. While creative directors come up with ideas for projects, art directors help execute them.

As the art director for his organization, Claney manages a brand or a specific project to get everyone conceptually on the same page. He said it’s important for all directors to be good team leaders. “Creative and art directors should build relationships with a team, have a vision for that team, manage the team, be the example of hustle and use your creative expertise to ​ help the team and work grow,” he said.