The fine line between being a designer and a marketer

28 Jul 2016

  • Creativity
  • Creative
  • Digital Marketing

By Sandy Sara, Head of User Experience, Datarati

As designers, we’re more than just the human representation of Photoshop and Illustrator. We’re more than the typefaces and layouts in our designs. We ideate, calculate and communicate. We are also, by a fine line, marketers.

Think about it: when designing a logo, we consider the target audience and choose the colours and typeface accordingly. A logo for a preschool would look different to a logo for a restaurant. It is in this way, that without realising, we are utilising the basics of marketing, to try and create a design that will most appeal to the target market and create more value for the brand and our designs. A design without the consideration of marketing, will be bland, less creative, and go unnoticed. However, if we immerse ourselves further into the fundamentals of marketing, we can become powerful and even better designers.

Marketing and design work hand in hand. Marketing needs design to convey the message, and design needs marketing to understand how the message should be conveyed. When I began my career as an in-house graphic designer working within the marketing team of a retail company, I’ll admit that I didn’t understand a whole lot about marketing. I was tasked with creating digital designs, such as eDMs and web banners, relevant to the campaigns that the company was running. Over time, I was given more marketing responsibilities; such as analysing data, campaign strategy ideation and digital spend; naturally progressing into a digital marketing role.

With slight concern I began to contemplate my career path at this stage. Will these new roles and responsibilities lead me down a marketing path and away from creativity and design? I understand that other designers also experience this same ultimatum and situation. Don’t fret - you’re not alone, and you can have the best of both worlds.

I took the leap, and continued to explore this new world of marketing, and came to realise that it didn’t take me away from my design, but brought me closer to it. By further understanding data-driven marketing and concepts, I was able to create more targeted and relevant designs, with the results to back it up. By learning the importance of click through rates, time of send, and A/B testing, I could modify my email designs in terms of CTA and banner placements to help drive better results. By considering audience segmentation and digital ad spend, I could design better ads with content to suit the right market.

Now that I’m working within an agency environment, understanding the essentials of marketing has helped me to better consult with clients regarding my designs. Being able to present a concept and having an explanation of why it is best practice to have the creative a certain way, not only visually, but also in regards to ROI, makes my work more credible.

I believe that all designers should study and learn as much about marketing as possible, as you will benefit greatly from the added knowledge. Designers are already, in a way, marketers, and the more you know, the more effective your designs will be. I can now say with complete certainty that my designs have improved vastly over the years with the added value of marketing. I now create more substantial and richer designs, and this will take me down a career path that merges marketing and design together.

Sandy Sara Picture

Sandy Sara is the Head of User Experience at Datarati and an ADMA member.

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