Designing for Marketing: Using Creativity and Problem Solving

Design in itself must be done strategically, not something that is solely based on aesthetics or the expertise in the use of design tools and software. It is a form of creative problem-solving.

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Whether you prefer being referred to as a graphics designer, visual artist, visual communicator, pixel pusher, illustrator, or whatever fancy name you deem most appropriate, creative designers by nature are problem solvers. In designing marketing content, the final output of every project you handle should solve a problem for your client; increase sales, create awareness, improve perception, etc. 

 

Design in itself must be done strategically, not something that is solely based on aesthetics or the expertise in the use of design tools and software. It is a form of creative problem-solving.

 

Picture this, as a designer you are contracted by the Marketing or Communications Manager of a real estate brand to design a sales flyer with the aim of creating awareness for their new product and increasing overall sales.  You complete the design project within record time and everyone that reviewed the design was blown away by the beauty of design. However, you did not input any call to action on the flyer. This could cost your clients potential leads and fail to deliver on the overall goal of the campaign; to increase sales.

Yes, visual appeal is extremely important in the designs, the interplay of gradients is lovely but does it solve a problem for the user? Problems inform design; an aesthetically appealing design that doesn’t solve your client’s problem is decoration.

 

It is possible to create a body of work that seamlessly combines creative/visual appeal with functionality. HERE IS HOW:

  • It starts with a brief:  A clear brief is to a designer what a compass is to a sailor. Without it, you could sail through the design process haven, put in a lot of effort, and produce an output that may not meet the client’s expectations or adequately communicate the intended message. A brief is a clear statement of the client’s expectation for a design project. Always request a detailed brief before embarking on any design project. It may be helpful to send the client a template, form, or specific questions the brief should answer.

 

  • And continues on paper: Take the paper-before-pixels approach;  jot all design ideas and inspiration you can imagine no matter how irrelevant they may seem. This is the point where you perfectly balance your innate creativity and external inspiration with the product- starting with the problem your design is solving, how it is solving it, who it solves it for, and anything else you can make out of the brief directly or indirectly. 

  • Consider the Users:  Create Something That’s Interesting to the Audience. One of the biggest mistakes we make as visual communicators is that we assume the audience cares about the same things we do. This is rarely true.  We have to be brutally honest and say: would the audience care about this? If so, why? If not, go back to the drawing board and create something that provokes a reaction

 

It is important you consider the user (the audience that would interact with your design, not just the Marketing and Communications team) from the start of your project through to the end. Here you consider how your design impacts them in terms of color, typeface, imagery, etc. Ask yourself questions like: 

  1. Would this color create the right mood?
  2. Is the typeface both legible and readable? 
  3. Does the design match the brand’s persona and image?

  • Visualize How It Works: Always consider actual use and functionality first before aesthetics. Whether you are creating a website, a flyer, a brochure, or any design,  people will look at it, touch it, or interact with it in some way. Often create mockup versions during the design process to mimic how these interactions would work to gauge the effectiveness of the overall design concept.   The look and feel of your designs help you understand the usefulness of it. 

 

  • Solve the most difficult part of the design challenge first: Designing a big interactive project is like eating an elephant. The best way to succeed is to take it in bite sizes. By tackling the most complex steps in the design process first, the tasking part of the project gets allocated the most amount of time for ideation, research, and iteration. 

 

  • Avoid using dummy Lorem Ipsum whenever possible:  Placeholder text is dummy text commonly used to demonstrate the visual form of a document or a typeface without relying on meaningful content. As you glide through the design process, you might be tempted to use “lorem ipsum” to fill in the gaps in content. While this is easy to do, it minimalizes the relatability of your document with the user. 

    Remember whatever content you design would be interacted with by people, the reason why a rough draft of realistic content is always best to use in place of a dummy Greek text.

 

The perfect symbiosis, therefore, occurs when you take a clear look at what a business wants to convey (message), to whom (audience), and how (channels) it wants to convey it and creatively aligning all these elements into one beautifully structured solution (design) that works on every level, ensuring the client’s goals are met.

Go ahead, smash creative barriers  and create masterpieces that are functional

 

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