5 Questions a Marketer Should Never Ask a Graphic Designer

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Vince Bitel

VP of Creative Services

When you are creating your next piece of content or marketing materials, ask yourself what will make it most effective with your audience and drive the most ROI for your business. Is it informative? Check. Is it actionable? Check. Does it convey the right message? Check.

All set, right? Well, maybe not.

The important question many marketers don’t ask themselves, but should is: Is it visually appealing?

In other words, do the basics of the design function properly? That is why your graphic designer is such an important piece of the marketing development process. An experienced graphic designer can take your marketing ROI from good to great. But to benefit from that added value, you need a strong working relationship. That means sharing more of your business and marketing goals and collaborating more effectively.

In the spirit of making sure that your collaboration goes as smoothly as it can, here are 5 things you should avoid asking your graphic designer:

1. Can you put something together, and then I can tell you if it’s what I’m looking for?

For those of you who find yourselves struggling when trying to describe what you need from a graphic designer, I can break it down into 10 words: “I’m looking to you to help me solve problem X.” Your designer wants you to share your business and marketing goals up front. He wants to clearly understand what you are trying to communicate, and then collaborate in a spirited discussion about the how to solve the problem creatively.

2. I did a layout in PowerPoint so we can move this along. Can you recreate it and make it look better?

When was the last time any of us went to a favorite restaurant, brought an entree from home, and asked the chef to make it better? I certainly understand and appreciate the effort to help the designer conceptualize the end product, but starting at this point will minimize the value the graphic designer is able to provide to your project. Her addition of design discipline to your layout will only magnify its problems. Instead, involve the graphic designer before you begin, and let her derive the layout that you can succeed with.

3. There’s so much white space. Can I add more content there?

Marketers must learn to embrace white space. The use of white space is not designed to minimize content, but is used to guide the audience into and through the content comfortably to enhance the user experience. To avoid turning your next content piece into a scary episode of Hoarders, trust the experience of your designer. He knows the content/white space ratio that is appropriate for the consumption of your content.

4. Can you make the text smaller so my content fits?

While on the surface it appears to be an easy fix, designers don’t base text size on personal choice. It’s based on known principals of readability combined with a keen understanding of what functions well and what doesn’t. Cheating those principals will adversely affect the other elements of the layout and readability. Before you start writing, you may want to ask your graphic designer for character counts, so you can deliver to her just the right number of compelling letters and spaces.

5. Can you “jazz it up” ?

It is not always a bad thing when marketers want to inject some visual life into their content. However, I sometimes find myself explaining to them that graphic design is not the business equivalent of bedazzling a sleeveless denim jacket (how’s that for a visual?).

The purpose of graphic design is not to make marketing fancier, but rather more effective. Your graphic designer understands that sometimes the purpose is very simple, and the design should reflect that. Other times, it makes business sense to have a debate with your graphic designer over whether his work is effective enough. That’s when it’s far more productive to collaborate with him on concrete issues like “Is the image conveying enough of the message?” or “I’m concerned the audience will skip over this part because it’s so quiet” or “I wonder if there’s enough distinction between the two sections” to get to the right solution quickly.

Building content and messaging that functions better in the hands and eyes of your customers is going to help create more distinction for your brand and ultimately help drive purchase consideration for you solutions. Your graphic designer has the same goals that you do, so be sure to work as partners in meeting and exceeding those goals.

Just make sure you don’t ask them to use the color blue.

Any more insight to share? Feel free to leave a comment or connect with me on LinkedIn.

content design, content marketing, graphic design, marketing design

One Response to “5 Questions a Marketer Should Never Ask a Graphic Designer”

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    Diane Clay

    Great article – having seen all of these mistakes made at some point in my career. I will say that I have done the ppt to show the designer a concept when he wasn’t “getting it” – but then worked with him for a fabulous outcome – which looked nothing like (and FAR superior to) my original ppt.

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