It is time to hire a designer, and you want someone who pays particular attention to detail. Be prepared, because designers will expect the same dedication to detail from you, the marketer.
The reason is this: You are hiring a designer, a creative problem solver whose purpose is to create visual products that quickly arrest attention, deliver a clear message, convince the target audience, and move them to a desired thought or action. Designers have a big job that requires a lot of specific information, which is why it is so important that marketers and designers form a relationship characterized by effective communication and the smooth exchange of detailed information.
Designers love strategy. They put plenty of strategy into their designs, but they need rich, specific information to give their strategy direction. The best way to get effective work from your designer is to provide enough detail to paint a clear goal or target at which they can aim.
The Archer and the Target
Consider this analogy: You (the marketer) have hired an archer (a designer) who can hit a target with complete accuracy. When the archer asks: “What is my target?” it is your job to give them something at which to aim. It is important to be specific. If you answer with: “it doesn’t matter” or “everything” or “I don’t know,” then the archer’s skills go to waste because there is no way to define an accurate shot. If you answer with: “I want you to shoot the apple off that boy’s head without harming him,” then the archer will know exactly how to get the job done.
Your strategy consists of defining the correct target. The archer’s strategy consists of choosing a straight arrow, noting the direction of the breeze, pulling the bow taught, and releasing the arrow. These two strategies require two very different skill sets. However, one strategy without the other renders both useless.
Painting a Target for Designers
Lets break down the information that paints the target for designers in the marketing world.
This detail will help designers understand what kind of exposure the design asset or product will have. It will also help them understand the kind of versatility, sizing, format, and length of messaging that will be most effective for the area on which it is displayed. Will the design be on a billboard by the highway where the message needs to get across within three seconds? Will it be on the web? In a magazine? In an email? Will it be printed on a pen or take up the entire side of a building?
“When” encompasses due dates, the amount of time the designer should work on the project, and when the design will be used or displayed. This information is useful because it tells the designer how to prioritize his or her design time, how much heart and soul can go into the project, and how to strategize the design to fit the time period for which it is used.
Who is the target audience? It is important to think about factors such as age, gender, nationality, geographical location, economic status, marital status, education, needs, etc. This will help the designer know whose attention to arrest. After all, capturing the attention of men, for example, requires a different design approach than capturing the attention of women.
What do you need designed? An eBook? A logo? A mailer? Packaging? What are the dimensions? What is the format? What is the messaging? What point are we trying to make? What kind of action do we want produce from the target audience once they have viewed the design? This basic information will get the wheels turning for the designer, who can then start brainstorming ideas about the messaging and format of the design.
“How” is a very important part of the design and marketing strategy. This is where we start adding depth to the marketing idea. How do we want viewers to perceive the message? Creditable? Fun? Serious? How do we achieve these? How can we make our message convincing? Should we appeal to the emotions of the viewer? Appeal to their logic or their humor? This information will help the designer develop an idea about how to sculpt the feel of the design.
“Why” is by far the most important piece of information. (Hence the bull’s eye.) “Why” explains the purpose of the design. It illustrates the end goal and reflects the beliefs that power the project.
Remember the archery analogy above? Recall that the direction given to the archer was “I want you to shoot the apple off that boy’s head without harming him.” This statement illustrates the goal of the exercise. The apple needs to be shot, however, the safety of the boy is very important. Imagine if the archer was simply told, “shoot the apple”. Perhaps the archer would have shot four arrows at a time to ensure that the apple was shot. The boy’s safety would have been jeopardized which would undermine the entire purpose of the exercise.
By understanding the “why” behind a project, the designer can make an educated decision regarding how best to achieve the end goal.
Both marketers and designers are problem solvers. Each has strategies and knows how to do what they do best. While the strategy of marketers may be defined by the needs of the business, the strategy of designers heavily depends on the information provided to them by marketers. Understanding the scope, market, medium, and goal of a project will help designers create an effective, arresting, and moving design.