Design Isn't Marketing

John | October 02, 2019 | Inbound Marketing

Design, graphic design, visual design, UX design, web design, front-end design, concept design, etc. These are all terms related to how something looks and (to a certain extent) how something functions. My education, background and the early part of my career was primarily focused on design. It is a critical part of any professional creative project in today’s business world.

We’re all attracted to bright, shiny objects. I’m guilty too. I really love good design. Things and experiences that are attractive and trendy are fun. Modern, elegant aesthetics induce a sense of calm and captivate us. We tell our friends about it. It’s special. In contrast, poor design solutions are off-putting. They are the visual road block that you just can’t get past. No matter how hard you try you just can’t unsee bad design. It’s special in a bad way.

And then there is something in the middle. Mediocre design. It’s just tolerated. It’s ok and it get’s the job done, but it’s not remarkable. I’ve observed that mediocre design can be intentional at times. Perhaps the audience isn’t intended to be focused on the design, but rather on a higher purpose. Maybe it’s tolerated in order to achieve something more impactful than a nod or a like on social media.

Good, bad and mediocre design are typically focused on how things look and function. But, that’s merely a single dimension of a marketing strategy. Designing a trendy website doesn’t elevate your brand or check your box for digital marketing. A super-adaquete analysis of your brand identity isn’t marketing. Even if you pay $100,000 for it.

I would argue that Marketing is something more complex. Old(ish) people like me remember the 4 P’s of marketing from our college text books. Today’s marketing is very different. It’s mostly digital. At least that’s where the smart money is these days. My friend Neil Patel summarizes very well in his article titled, What Is Digital Marketing? http://neilpatel.com/what-is-digital-marketing/

“Digital marketing is any form of marketing products or services that involves electronic devices.”

I would take a step further, narrowing it down to marketing on desktops, tablets and phones. That is the essence of what my team does on a daily basis. We’re a digital marketing agency. It’s a pretty trending thing these days and like all trends it’s drawing big crowds.

The design and branding agencies from 10 years ago are reinventing themselves as digital agencies today. Here is the thing, design is only one part of the whole enchilada when it comes to digital marketing. Why invest in a really well-designed user experience without any users? Design and branding teams will always sell you on design. They will tell you that their greatest strength should be the primary factor in your decision…

In most cases your website isn’t intended to be a branding tool. It’s a marketing tool. To think of it as anything different is foolish. Marketing today is data-driven. It's measurable. It’s efficient. It’s more nerd and less super model. It’s multi-dimensional and fluid. If the data indicates that green is a color that is more effective than blue for conversions, then you go with the green. No time for design research on the emotional consequences of a color. Just follow the data. It's doesn't lie.

At HADM, we distill things down to traffic, leads and conversions. Those metrics tell us everything we need to know about your website performance.

It's insane to me that companys invest $50,000 to $100,000 in designin

On a few occasions we’ve been brought in after a website launch in order to capture ROI through marketing when he original design firm missed the point entirely. Who cares how it looks if that’s all it does? Is it art? It’s purpose isn’t just to be observed. It’s a marketing tool.

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