I used to hate the word ‘marketing’. For me it was always synonymous with ‘sales’. And ‘sales’ was synonymous with ‘suits’ and ‘bullshit’. I was a designer, not a salesman. Or at least I thought I was.
But I realised that like it or not, designers have the same function as everybody else; to make money. Whether it’s for a business, an individual or an organisation, the goal is always the same. There are exceptions — public health announcements for example — but these are few and far between. If the work you’re doing is not eventually making money, then it’s not fulfilling its purpose. Design is not about the ‘art’, it’s about the money.
Design gets people ‘on-side’ so that they spend money. Whether through branding, packaging or a digital-interface, its role is to communicate the right things to the right people. To be able to do your job effectively as a designer you must therefore have a deep understanding of the product, business and the target market. You must embrace the world of marketing. Design is just an arm of this altogether more complex beast. It’s a powerful arm with a big bicep but it’s still part of another organism; marketing.
I’ve realised that as a designer you must accept that you need to become a multifaceted marketer. You need to understand business objectives, financial considerations and customer expectations. You need to be a jack-of-all trades as well as a master of design.
If you don’t do marketing, you don’t do design.