Marketing design is about so much more than your company logo. Design is fundamental to anything your customer sees. Anything that’s going to seen in public needs to be reviewed or created by a designer somewhere along the line.
It’s important because marketing is fundamentally concerned with how your company interacts with customers. Any interaction is an opportunity to reinforce your brand and your message.
A consistent visual identity is important because the fundamental thing is you’re trying to communicate the brand’s principles and the message from the brand. For communication to take place effectively, you need to have those messages consistent and solidly tied to the brand. The fastest way to do that is visually. People look before they decide to interact.
How does marketing design manage an ugly logo?
Keeping that in mind, sometimes design identities are tied to a logo that was never, well, well-designed. That presents a challenge for a designer, but not an insurmountable one.
A clever designer can come in and use colours and fonts in various ways and introduce new elements, but still have some of the branding elements, and then build on that.
I’ve often seen that, where a brand has developed over a long period of time, and no-one’s really had a cohesive approach to it. It ends up a mish-mash of design elements. Then a good designer will come in and design something that may find a way of tying those elements together in an appealing way.
Good and bad product design
Two interesting and contrasting case studies are Donna Hay magazine and Cleo magazine (which closed last year). I worked on both, and both had the idea at different times of growing revenue by branching out into associated products.
The approach to product design at Donna Hay was all about keeping it consistent with the existing brand identity. If Donna Hay started putting bright red boxes and gaudy typography on products, people just wouldn’t associate it with her, so it just needs to have that reinforcement of the brand’s principles.
By contrast, 15 years ago, the marketing department of Cleo tried creating a branded product line. did not include any of the design department on it. The end result didn’t even look like it was associated with Cleo, so consumer just got confused. There were some great ideas, but completely lost the message because the products could’ve been for anything.
Keeping it consistent
The key to successful marketing design is keeping it consistent. It doesn’t require much effort to include a design team and allow them to interpret brand guidelines, rather than just follow them.
Different touchpoints require different types of communication. A good designer knows what can remain consistent, and what can change to suit the job.