Whether you outsource your design projects or employ a graphic designer in-house, there’s no running from the fact that they form an integral part of your Marketing team. Communication, Messaging, Advertising, & Effective Brand Building: none of these is possible without graphic designers.
With an MBA in Marketing and hands on experience in Graphic Designing, I’ve been on both sides of the line over the course of my career: I’ve functioned as an in-house Marketing Designer for a start up and have also outsourced projects to design contractors as the Marketing Manager for a large public company. I realize there are always gaps in understanding, big and small, between the core marketing and the design teams.
Conventional marketing wizards too busy with their strategies, project road maps, 4 Ps, data analysis, ROIC and cost-benefit analysis often lose sight of how designing goes hand in hand with marketing and branding; designers on the other hand feel their creativity is being stifled by time and cost pressures imposed by number-oriented decision makers. Functional silos result which fail to produce the desired end goal. In an attempt to make things better, a copy writer is often thrown in between and expected to iron out the differences between the two parties. Such an action, without a proper analysis of the root problem, simply adds an extra layer in the already befuddled communication arc.
While every individual’s experience would be different, I’ve put together a list of some of the quirkiest misconceptions marketing professionals with a no-design background have about graphic designing.
Photoshop Thy Name Is Houdini: Undoubtedly, one of the most magical image editing & enhancing tools, Adobe Photoshop has revolutionized the world of digital art. But as like any other tool, it has its own limitations. If you’re using your archaic cell phone camera to shoot an image of your most critical product offering and don’t care about lighting or background at all, there’s a limit to which Photoshop can carve a catalog grade picture out of it. If you think your cell phone can replace a proper camera and professional photography is only for the rich and stupid when it comes to a crucial product photo shoot, don’t expect Photoshop to do the wonders alone.
A Logo is just a pretty picture! At least 10 options can be made ready within an hour: A logo is practically the face of your organization; it’s a key element of your brand. It needs to reflect your brand voice appropriately and be consistent with your product offerings. Unless, you offer your designer a little time to comprehend your brand’s message and perform her own research, brain storming and conceptualization, you might get 20 logo options within an hour, but they would mean nothing and do nothing to boost your brand equity.
All Marketing Collaterals are the same: There are people who believe specification sheets and catalogs can be used interchangably; so what’s the point of having a different design for the two? Well, they are different because they are used for targeting different audiences. For example if you’re a business selling designer and architectural lighting B2B, spec sheets will contain more technical information for engineers and builders while glossy catalogs with inspiring images are meant to entice home owners so that they enquire the builders about it. You cannot use spec sheets as spec sheets and also spec sheets as pages of your catalog; so please stop asking your designer to come up with a universal template and format that would be equally applicable to altogether different types of collateral which are meant to serve different purposes. Attempts to attain such universality are impractical and may backfire.
We don’t have the money to spend on professional designers: We would rather ask one of our admins to go through some design tutorial videos on YouTube and quickly churn out some fancy flyers. Not so fast! You have to spend money to make money. If you really want your marketing voice to be heard by your potential customers, you need to do better than this and try less dangerous experiments.
Graphic Designers only make things look pretty: Wrong! They are the architects of your brand. They give the color, look and feel to your brand voice. They enable your voice to be heard by your target audience. You need them to set the stage right for your brand. Involve them more with your marketing and product teams, even engineering teams if you have one, help them learn more about your industry, company and the competition, break the silos and help them to help you better.