Does a graphic designer need to have an understanding of marketing? Well, quite simply – yes. If you don’t have an understanding of how to market, whether it’s a packaging design, a promotional message or a website, you can’t adequately direct someone to take action – or even care, from interacting with your design. It’s marketing on your own terms.
After many years in the graphic design and advertising game, we’ve found out that ‘marketing’ has a bit of an umbrella stigma to it. By definition, it is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. But these days, it’s much more than that. It’s more about how your product or service materials can communicate and relate to people and whether or not they find them useful – and graphic design is a big part of communicating this. Essentially, designers are distillers. We take a group of images and information and purify it down into something palpable and packaged to attract the target audience in various communication mediums. In other words, making it simple and relative.
Graphic Design in the business world is, after all, commercial art. Sure, we all want to design something awesome and cool, but in the end it does have to serve a purpose. If we’re going into a project to create something that’s only awesome and cool, then we know we’re not doing our clients any favors and likely the work will ultimately fail. Loosely translated – cool image or message, but no phone calls and no ticket sales – not the desired result.
To really get the consumer’s attention, we have to create something inspired and conceptual. Something that people can relate to. Something that makes them smile, gets them angry or forces them to take action. That’s the work that makes a difference. That’s marketing.
By deeply understanding how our client’s product or service works and what it’s audience’s perception is, we are much more in tune with what the design work’s role will be. Maybe the audience is well-connected in social media, or maybe they are not technologically savvy at all. Being able to put yourself in the audience’s shoes makes for better and more effective personal communication.
Smart marketing and great design are not mutually exclusive.