What do you think of when you hear the phrase “graphic design”? Perhaps your favorite band’s album cover or an elaborate Coca-Cola ad comes to mind? The field of design is a vast realm of concepting, creating and composing visual stories that catch the viewer’s attention. When executed flawlessly, design is thought-provoking and action-inducing – ensuring a seamless transition from aesthetic identity to message strategy. Thus, the value of strategic design cannot be understated.

How is design strategic?

To marketing professionals and graphic designers, there is a distinction between something that is simply aesthetically appealing and a piece that elevates the company’s objectives. However, design is often seen as merely an aesthetic routine – make something look pretty and it will generate interest. How many times can you remember the general appearance of an advertisement, but you can’t recall which product or service it was highlighting? Design needs to do more than just look good. It has to support the company’s offerings, messaging, goals and identity. While it’s often challenging, companies need to separate themselves from their personal preferences and focus solely on strategy and the people they’re trying to reach.

When a company emphasizes strategic design, merging creativity with business objectives, the results are astounding. A study by the Design Management Institute showed that companies who emphasize the importance of visual marketing outperformed the S&P by 211%. Transforming design into a strategic tool is essential to differentiate brands from their competitors and drive customer decision-making.

What is the process?

Incorporating business strategy into the design process can take more time, but the payoff is exponential.

  • Research: Analyzing competitors, trends, company history, touchpoints and markets is the crucial first step of any campaign. Of course, an in-depth understanding of business goals, messaging and objectives is also integral to success.
  • Create: I’ve always believed in starting with a design that’s entirely out of the box. Incorporating strategy into design doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. Go to the outer edges of your creativity – you might just stumble upon something breathtaking.
  • Simplify: A famous quote from Coco Chanel comes to mind: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” The same concept applies to designing – peel back layers of design and strip away superfluous elements that will distract from the message. Simplicity is the secret to great visuals.
  • Test: Go beyond the standard internal approval process and test your design on potential customers to eliminate bias. Most of the time, you’ll need to reframe and test again.

When design is paramount to business strategy and intertwined in messaging, objectives and market approach, it becomes a powerful tool. Companies who learn to develop a culture that sees design as more than simply an aesthetic medium will reap powerful results.

Is it time for you to re-evaluate the use of design in your marketing strategy? Call us and let’s get started.

As a graphic designer, I love creating for print. There’s something special about designing a piece that you know will eventually end up in the hands of your consumers, rather than just viewed on a screen. The past decade has ushered in a stampede of marketers lauding the print-to-digital transformation and decrying the glossy brochures, weighty annual reports and other print pieces many of us find so satisfying. But as the dust settles, the benefits of preserving a strategic print presence in campaigns has sustained and, thankfully for us print geeks, the traditional medium isn’t going away. Melding print and digital into multi-channel campaigns has proven to be the most effective, strategic approach to boosting brand recognition and achieving objectives. Here are four reasons to include print in your marketing mix:

The experience

Print offers an experience that digital media simply can’t imitate. When designing a print piece, you have to consider the way people will physically interact with it — unfolding a brochure or flipping through a magazine is tactile and, if executed properly, can be influential. A study focused on how people cognitively process direct mail versus digital media found that print pieces are more memorable and easier for consumers to understand. Designers can utilize texture, shape, weight and countless other aspects that aren’t available in the digital world to get their audiences’ attention. The tangibility of print gives it a lasting impact — something that the instantaneous world of digital has yet to replicate.

It strengthens digital

Digital is stronger when coupled with a print strategy. Using a call-to-action in your print ads can help drive traffic to a unique landing page, where you can track impressions and conversions. You can also leverage print ads to encourage engagement with your brand’s social media presence.

Hard to ignore

Consumers are bombarded by thousands of digital advertisements on a daily basis. Watching the news, checking social media, using phone apps, pumping gas — targeted advertisements are inescapable. And, as a result of the ensuing clutter, we’ve become experts in tuning them out: The majority of people block ads online or skip traditional TV commercials. Print, meanwhile, is harder to ignore. People instinctively look at what they’re holding in their hands, whether that’s a direct mail piece, a magazine insert or some other form of print advertisement. More eyes on your brand’s message is always beneficial to a campaign.

Customization connects

Variable–data printing (VDP) is a form of digital printing that allows for elements on print pieces to be changed on each individual print. This permits customization of text, graphics or images on a piece-by-piece basis without slowing the print process. Tailoring the look-and-feel or message to segmented target audiences can help your piece resonate and connect consumers to your brand.