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Good marketing + good design = results.  Remove the ‘good’ from either marketing or design and you will find a fairly rapidly diminishing return.

Marketing is (or should be) the driving force behind your business and your brand but design must underpin it.  Good design will improve your marketing activity as quickly as bad design will detract from it.  That said, design cannot resurrect a flawed marketing strategy however good it is.

A lot of discussion takes place about the importance of having an integrated marketing campaign and certainly it is important.  But, design within that context doesn’t get much of a mention and yet it is such a powerful marketing tool.

Design is the visual interpretation of what your brand stands for and is a communication medium as powerful, at times arguably more so, than words.  People can quickly take in and retain a visual image, forming an impression and opinion of something almost instantly, even if no words are present.  Words take a little longer to digest but add depth and clarity.  Consider how much stronger your message will be if you get both right: a commanding first impression backed by a meaningful message.

Good design starts with a good marketing strategy which defines who you are and what you want to achieve.  It doesn’t need to rival War and Peace, in fact it should be succinct and specific, but you need to know where you are starting from and where you want to get to.  And you need to communicate this to your designer.  Designers are generally brought in at the end of the planning process so it is important to take a small step back and let them know about your business and its goals.  They also need to understand what underlying objective the specific output you are requesting, such as a brochure or advertisement, is trying to meet.  Knowing more about you and your business will help them get into the right mindset and give them clear direction for whatever their brief, no matter what this might be.

What a designer doesn’t, or shouldn’t, need is for you to tell them exactly what the design should look like at the end.  Their role is to take your brief and convert that into a creative concept and eventually a tangible output that meets your marketing challenge.

The fact that design is used to solve marketing challenges is the very reason that marketing and design can never truly be treated as separate disciplines.  The two are, ultimately, heavily reliant upon each other.  Take marketing away from design and you lose direction.  Take design away from marketing and you lose a powerful delivery mechanism.

Paul Bailes

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