The Difference Between Marketing and Design

A Marketer and a Designer Walk into a Bar...

The Difference Between Marketing and Design

Designer: “You know what would be cool? It should be a clean black pallete, representing the existential state of your being and then we finish with a single, dramatic product image, resonating the importance of the product with the viewer.”

Marketer: “The consumer must be informed, we have to communicate that our product is all natural, low fat, never animal tested, environmentally friendly, high fiber and contains more than six times the recommended daily value of phosphorous. They shouldn’t be confused by alternating brand messages or fun fonts. Just the facts.”

When The Chips are on the Table

The Difference Between Marketing and Design

We are using this hypothetical example of chips because it’s a good example of what we’re talking about, though what we’re saying really has nothing to do with chips per se. Insert any product here, we’ve all seen examples of how design or marketing can pass or fail out there in the boardroom and on the sales floor.

When brand imagery, be it product packaging, web presence, presentation materials or the like, are created without a carefully rendered balance of marketing and design, there is a significant portion of your message that can become lost. Designers look first to create something visually appealing to capture the attention of the viewer, considering dramatic presentation, sensationalism and composition as some of their primary goals. Meanwhile, marketers know that they have to set their brand or product apart from the competition, establish or validate what they do and how they do it. They need to demonstrate the features and benefits of the product as well as explain why it is more valuable…and never the twain shall meet, right?
Wrong. They must meet. They will meet, and when they do, it will be amazing. It is your job to make these factors balance. Or your boss’s job, or your subordinates’. Whether you outsource your artwork and marketing, or you have in house teams or you are the designer and the marketer, someone must be (or should be) carefully considering the balance of both the design and messaging of all of your brand’s content.

When marketing and design come together, wonderful things can happen.

A Delicate Balance

The Difference Between Marketing and Design

This balance is delicate, and to do it successfully not only do you need to consider and align all your touch points and editorial calendars but also connect the right team together to pull it all off. Figuring out why you do what you do (and I’m not referring to profit) is an important step and exponentially valuable. It will not only help you to select the team that believes in the core values of the organization and the products, it will help you to identify who you are marketing to. If you know the why it can be relatively simple to seamlessly align design and marketing objectives all while targeting the audience that believes in what you believe, making selling much easier from every way you look at it.

Often times we see successful marketing that does not seem to be balanced between dramatic or artful imagery and clear messaging or seems more weighted in marketing or in design, but it somehow works. Why?

This ad isn't the whole story.

How Much of your Story Do They Already Know?

The Difference Between Marketing and Design

This might seem to be both wholly dramatic and hugely successful to you. But consider that this ad isn’t the whole story. Apple is a company that’s been creating innovative products since the 1970’s and their marketing has evolved drastically over the past 40 years. You know the brand, you know their beliefs and you know this product already. You already know what the product does. They have created such a powerful brand identity that they don’t need to waste time or space telling their customers what they already know. Today an Apple ad can focus on any one element and bring to mind the other parts of their overall message. They have so successfully communicated their belief that they “think differently” that those who subscribe to the same beliefs will wait on line for hours to buy the newest product release.

For the rest of us who aren’t Apple or insert mega brand here, we may not be currently enjoying the same massive success but we can analyze and learn what makes them so successful.

When you or your team combines marketing with design, consider what the target audience already knows about your brand, or more aptly, what they don’t know. Consider which touch points will promote the different aspects of your message and where in your marketing you will introduce more. Remember that you must capture and hold their attention long enough to tell them your story so decide what part of the story you want to tell. You’ll want to create a content map to help to organize how and where to focus on features and benefits or your mission statement. When marketing and design come together, wonderful things happen.