5 Tips for Marketers to Collaborate with Designers

Marketers and designers have a lot in common:  they're both creative, they chase the same goals, and, believe it or not, they often share the same headaches. After several experiences as first design hire, and years of teaming up with marketing folks as the go-to designer, I've developed five insights for marketers to create meaningful working relationships with their design crew.

Not everything pops

To make a dream team, both sides need to explore each other's worlds. Sure, learning design-speak can be a bit tricky—even for designers! For instance, some marketers love the word "banner" a little too much. They use it for featured images, blog covers, header brandings, YouTube thumbnails, and even interface modals. Calling all design work a "banner" might limit your understanding of the awesome design options available, and ultimately damage, in some way or another, the output.

The same idea applies to giving valuable feedback. "Make it pop" just won't do. Design principles like layout, hierarchy, movement, repetition, white-space, and focal point are a designer's daily bread. A little bit of design lingo can work wonders when joining forces with creative teams and guide you towards better results.

In short, ditch the generic words. Embrace descriptive terms that truly capture the design work or feedback in question. Over time, you and your designers will create a way of expression that works for both of you—and trust me, it'll make your teamwork super-efficient and rock-solid. If you take some time to learn and understand design fundamentals, you will quickly notice that a little goes a really long way!

Design is a resource, not a service

Many companies set up their design department like an agency. While that has its perks, it can create the wrong idea about design. Instead of treating design as a commodity, view it as a collaborative force that can elevate your marketing efforts.

Design isn't just a service for marketers to use as squeezy toys. It's a valuable and scarce resource that helps everyone achieve their goals. Forge open, meaningful, and collaborative relationships with designers, and you'll make your life – and job – so much easier. Listen to designers, value their expertise like any other business asset, and always – always – respect their time.

How to do this? It’s quite simple, involve them in conversations! For example, inviting designers to brainstorming sessions and idea generation from the get-go not only fosters a sense of ownership but also creates a deeper understanding of the project's objectives, leading to more innovative solutions. Treat designers as partners in the creative process, and you'll find out that we are, for the most part, pretty friendly folks!

Content is design

In art, form and content are seen as separate elements. While this isn't entirely true for visual communication, there's still a lesson to learn. If you strive for harmony between content and design, ensuring both elements work together to deliver a strong message, the result will be tenfold more efficient.

For content, short and sweet is the way to go… length is not linked to persuasion, never. When writing copy for a standard conversion-oriented design, less is always more. Is it as concise as it can be? Is there anything that could be removed? If so, remove it. No-bs and to the point, are the keys here.

Form is as important as the content itself, as it defines it separates the readable from the clutter. The way paragraphs and text blocks are arranged in a banner can tell a story, and most of the time wordy sentences make the copy hard to read and mess up the layout. So yes, it is normal for design to influence the content, and it’s a healthy sign if it does it regularly.

Goals matter

When it comes to creating Marketing collaterals, everyone is generally looking for an eye-candy. But why? Designers are visual creatures, but they certainly care about goals and objectives of any project they are involved in. Before diving into any collab, marketers should clearly state what they want to accomplish with a specific design.

In today's crowded and noisy marketplace, it's difficult for brands to grab and hold onto people's attention. Being strategic and intentional in your design efforts will help you make the most of the limited attention that is available. Who are you talking to? Are you looking for sign-ups? Do you want to bring awareness to your brand instead? Or are you simply after retweets and engagements? All these data points will heavily influence the outcome.

Having a clear goal in mind will help designers understand the context and constraints of any project, and allow them to come up with more effective solutions. After all, that’s exactly what you should be looking for. Regardless of how busy you might be, please take the time to specify your goals each time you request design work, and involve designers in goal-setting discussions to ensure their understanding of the project's purpose and success metrics. By doing so, you will exponentially increase your own chances of success.

Remember: you are not a designer

Marketers sometimes fall into the trap of micromanaging design work or offering overly prescriptive feedback. This can happen when they have a rigid vision of the design outcome and provide a narrow set of instructions for designers to follow. Don’t be that colleague!

While it's important for marketers to provide designers with clear goals and objectives, it's also important to give designers the freedom to be creative and come up with unique solutions. After all, that’s the only thing you should be after: a solution. Designers are creative professionals who have dedicated countless hours to studying and analyzing visual communication. Their expertise equips them with unique insights and ideas that can elevate a project, but by being overly controlling, marketers risk missing out on that valuable resource.

So, in short, don’t marry your ideas, stay open-minded, and let designers take care of the design work.

A powerful synergy

When marketers and designers form a strong alliance, they unlock a world of creativity and innovation that drives success, resonates with the audience, and fosters a thriving work environment. For both parties, investing time and effort into nurturing this relationship is undoubtedly worth it.

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