It was always inevitable. The growth of digital media and increased consumer dependence on it have begged the question, how does graphic design impact a marketing campaign? The answer has forced graphic designers to evolve.
Let’s take a look at that evolution, what’s driving it, and how successful designers understand how they impact the marketing campaigns they touch.
Graphic designers aren’t marketers…yet
Where a graphic designer used to work for or with a marketing department, many companies are now asking designers to be actual marketers as well. This may seem like a perfect union, but it’s often a pitfall. The two couldn’t be more different.
Here are three common differences between graphic designers and marketers that explain the struggle designers have in developing comprehensive digital marketing competency:
Graphic designers worry more about the aesthetics and relationship of the pieces that make up your marketing library. Marketers worry about selling your services using those pieces created by the designer.
Graphic designers worry about the emotional connection. Marketers worry about analytics and ROI.
Marketing strategy is typically the first step in developing the promotions. It defines your target audiences, outlines which messaging and platforms to use, and determines how success will be measured. The creative brief dictates the design, branding, and creation for each individual media need outlined in the larger marketing strategy. It ensures compelling content and creative, message cohesion across assets, and brand consistency.
Designers are taught a core set of skills and tenets, including how to use all the creative programs at their disposal, that ‘less is more,’ and that branding needs to be consistent and well thought out. This is great and critically important for great design work. But is it enough in today’s measured world?
Designers haven’t been taught to be concerned about the performance of their design elements. Until recently (as in the last 10 years), they haven’t really had to; it wasn’t their job. But we live in a precise, measured world where every interaction, conversion, and even cursor movements are quantified and reported. Stakes are higher than ever imaginable.
A necessary, perhaps inevitable evolution for graphic designers
Email, online, and social marketing have changed the game for designers. But these media and the strategy behind them have not been taught to newer design graduates. Even seasoned designers have had to up their skills to compete with digital demands. It has created a further branching of ‘designer types.’
Design traditionally centered around advertising, packaging, branding, illustration, motion graphics, and publication design. But now you’re seeing website design, user experience and user interface design, and mobile app design.
These newfound platforms and design needs have led companies to assume that designers are interchangeable and can also be marketers. The demand isn’t going away, so it’s time for designers to upskill.
Digital marketing has afforded an easy way to report on the effectiveness of marketing initiatives and campaigns. It’s now easy to see how many people visited your website, how many times a remarketing ad was clicked, who and how many people opened an email, AND how they interacted with it. You can see hotspots of your website that show where users are spending the most time, what days of the week social ads are most effective, and which platforms are best for each target audience.
If a designer is learning these new media, they must understand these performance metrics and best practices for design that positively moves the needle.
This forced upskilling, my dear readers, has birthed the genre of ‘Marketing Designer.’ There are now schools that offer degrees in graphic design and marketing (thankfully!). They provide a mash-up of classes from both disciplines and include classes on social media management and digital storytelling.
For those of us not in school, we’ve had to learn it the hard way, by nagging our marketing strategy peers to teach us their analytic ways (sorry not sorry, Jennifer Renshaw!)
How does this impact your graphic design and marketing campaign needs?
If you’re a design student (oh to be young) and want a high-growth career, you should think about branching your studies out to include some marketing and digital advertising classes. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been taught marketing by several people at several different companies over the last ten years, and I feel it’s made me a better designer overall.
If you’re looking to hire or outsource a graphic designer for your marketing needs, realize that not all designers are alike, and adjust your requirements accordingly. Request samples with metrics on campaign impact. Ask potential artists about the marketing strategy that drove their creative strategy. Don’t stop looking until you find the designer that can back up their skill with the analytics.
Think of it this way. You can be really good at creating floral arrangements, but wouldn’t it be great if you also knew what it takes to garden those beautiful flowers you arrange?
Speaking of which…we’re pretty good at gardening AND arranging flowers. Let’s connect so we can learn how Brand Mark Digital can help you with your marketing and creative strategy.