Graphic Design is Not Marketing

Graph­ic Design is not mar­ket­ing. Though this state­ment may ruf­fle some feath­ers, read on to learn why…

Graphic design, visual marketing, graphic design is not marketing

In mar­ket­ing you eval­u­ate num­bers, ana­lyze data and look towards improv­ing your sales or mar­ket­ing pres­ence using those fac­tors. Design is actu­al­ly very dif­fer­ent. Strate­gic design looks into cre­at­ing emo­tion­al con­nec­tions to humans — not num­bers. Using core design prin­ci­ples, we cre­ate inten­tion­al con­nec­tions through col­or, typog­ra­phy, com­po­si­tion. Above all, we care­ful­ly craft con­tent hier­ar­chy to help get the mar­ket­ing mes­sage across.

Imag­ine it like this: a busy room where every­one is yelling to get atten­tion and want their mes­sage heard. That set­ting is over­whelm­ing and high­ly inef­fec­tive — who can real­ly hear through all that chaos?!  Now apply this exam­ple to graph­ic design… when you see con­tent that is in your face with no clear struc­ture, it’s hard to fol­low along, right? Now imag­ine that in the mid­dle of the may­hem, some­one puts up a sign that is easy to read and cap­tures your atten­tion. It’s like­ly you’re going to actu­al­ly under­stand their mes­sage. Graph­ic Design can take the chaos of stand­ing out to a human-cen­tered con­nec­tion approach.

Graphic design is not marketing or pretty pictures

There is a mis­con­cep­tion (in some areas) that graph­ic design is just about pret­ty pic­tures and $99 logos. And it’s often, if not always, the last step in mar­ket­ing.  While graph­ic design is not mar­ket­ing, it’s very much a part of the strat­e­gy in mar­ket­ing. If you only call on your design­er to push out a quick job, it can actu­al­ly be counter pro­duc­tive to your goals. Involv­ing your design­er as you plan can be of crit­i­cal ben­e­fit. What’s key is that the design­er under­stands your brand essence and mar­ket­ing goals — that’s how they will cre­ate those emo­tion­al con­nec­tions and experiences.

Graph­ic design­ers need to under­stand the goal at hand to sup­port it with the right visu­als. If they don’t, you can end up with bland design that makes you think, “I could have done this in Pho­to­shop.” Yikes! Beyond this, it’s impor­tant to under­stand how con­nect­ed graph­ic design is with form­ing first impres­sions. The wrong design ele­ments can hurt — even tar­nish — that first impres­sion. While the right ele­ments can help build curiosity.

What you need to do to accomplish this:

Design and mar­ket­ing are actu­al­ly a part­ner­ship. They help one anoth­er! Hav­ing worked with many, many mar­keters, we’ve seen the pow­er of this link. We each become invest­ed in under­stand­ing our goals and can find bet­ter solu­tions and results. It’s far more effec­tive than hav­ing some­one whip up a last minute graph­ic. As a strate­gic design and brand­ing firm, our goal is to part­ner with clients and under­stand every angle of their goals, serv­ing the brand mission.

Remem­ber, you are com­pet­ing in a noisy world. Pret­ty graph­ics won’t make your mar­ket­ing (or brand­ing) stand­out, just like sta­t­ics or data won’t sell your brand. Lever­ag­ing impor­tant infor­ma­tion and cre­at­ing emo­tion­al con­nec­tions to your audi­ence can. Graph­ic design is not mar­ket­ing, but it needs to be a part­ner to it in order to pro­vide strate­gic solutions.

Got ques­tions? Put them in the comments! 

About the Author

Nicte Cuevas, Principal of Nicte Creative Design, empowers mission-driven businesses through strategic design & branding. Nicte has applied this when working with Adobe Spark and Twitter Business, LinkedIn Learning, Dogs on Deployment and Purina, Girl Scouts, The Houston Zoo and The Contemporary Arts Museum. Her excellence in communication design & marketing has been recognized by multiple national / international awards, including a coveted feature in Graphic Design USA's People to Watch.

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  1. Being a com­mon stu­dent i also con­fused the ter­m’s mar­ket­ing with graph­ic design­ing but your blog cleared my thoughts and helped me to learn more. i wish that you upload more infor­ma­tive blogs in future

  2. Great post on the dis­tinc­tion between graph­ic design and mar­ket­ing! Here are some action­able tips for busi­ness­es to effec­tive­ly uti­lize both ele­ments in their brand strategy:

    Under­stand the role of each: Know that graph­ic design focus­es on the visu­al ele­ments of your brand, while mar­ket­ing focus­es on com­mu­ni­cat­ing the val­ue and ben­e­fits of your brand to your tar­get audience.

    Align design and mar­ket­ing goals: Ensure that your graph­ic design and mar­ket­ing efforts are aligned and sup­port each oth­er. Use your mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy to inform the design choic­es you make, and use your design ele­ments to rein­force your mar­ket­ing message.

    Invest in high-qual­i­ty design: Invest in pro­fes­sion­al and high-qual­i­ty graph­ic design to cre­ate a strong visu­al iden­ti­ty for your brand. This will help you stand out from your com­peti­tors and com­mu­ni­cate the val­ue of your brand effectively.

    Test and refine: Con­tin­u­ous­ly test and refine your brand strat­e­gy to ensure that your graph­ic design and mar­ket­ing efforts are effec­tive. Use ana­lyt­ics, cus­tomer feed­back, and indus­try trends to inform your deci­sions and make data-dri­ven improve­ments to your strategy.

    By fol­low­ing these tips, busi­ness­es can effec­tive­ly uti­lize both graph­ic design and mar­ket­ing in their brand strat­e­gy to cre­ate a strong and cohe­sive visu­al iden­ti­ty, com­mu­ni­cate the val­ue of their brand effec­tive­ly, and dri­ve results.

    1. Great addi­tion­al insight, Steve! Test­ing and refin­ing is an impor­tant part of the process; we some­times for­get to imple­ment that.

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